The Office, “New Leads”: The sales department smashed my sandwich.

Before I got around to watching “The Office” tonight, a friend of mine sent me a text saying, “The Office sucks. There. I said it.” So when I sat down to watch the episode, I went into it thinking, “Well, we’ll see about that!” It turns out we did see, and while I won’t say that “The Office” sucks, well, oh how the mighty have fallen.

As I’ve said previously, the show doesn’t seem willing to change up its formula, so I thought that maybe it was worth it to judge the episode by the standards the show has set for itself. By that, I mean that we’ve been watching the show for six years now. Would we judge “New Leads” differently if it were a second or third season episode? Then I thought, no! Television should strive for excellence! And we will give no free rides (or wire hangers!). Suffice it to say that, after six years, tonight’s episode was far from impressive.

Things got off to a good start. I liked the fact that Sabre’s sales-centric philosophy had gone to the sales staff’s heads. That was until I saw that it only gave Jim another reason to treat Michael like garbage. And when I say another reason I really mean that the more I watch the show the more I think that Jim’s so convinced he’s better than everyone around him he can’t help but jab it in people’s sides whenever he gets the chance. This week, douche-itis hit not only Jim but the entire sales staff. So when Michael refused to give out the new leads Sabre had sent in, I thought that the episode just might be on to something. Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed and the episode turned into another “watch how Michael screws this one up” yuk-fest (minus most of the yuks).

All of this culminated in Michael and Dwight together in front of a giant matte painting at the dump looking for the lost leads. I’m thinking no one on the show has ever actually been to a garbage dump. The Scranton dump is filled entirely with crumbled up paper and empty boxes. One time I took some stuff to the dump with my grandfather and found three dead bodies. Anyway, their search quickly spirals out of control (which no one saw coming) into a sissy slap fight that lasted only a minute or two, but still seemed to drag on forever. After the two finally let up, sat down and reconciled, the whole thing just seemed…boring.

Things back at the office weren’t going much better. After the sales staff finally admits that they’ve been acting like jerks, they reluctantly agree to share some of their commissions with the rest of the office to make up for it. When Oscar, Angela and the rest come in and mistake the food spread for their apology, all is forgiven and forgotten. The sales staff is more than happy to let the entire thing go, and they all chow down on donuts and coffee. So we’ve learned that not only are they jerks, but greedy bastards, too. It worked in Seinfeld. In The Office, I’m left wondering what happened to all the characters I loved in its first few seasons. Three or four years ago, we may have looked on “New Leads” more kindly, but this far into the show it’s just one more mediocre episode in a long string of mediocre episodes.

Stuff I liked:

  • Erin leading Andy to her leads. “Colder. Colder. Warmer.” “Are you sure?” So far, I’m enjoying the Erin/Andy relationship, but I’m wondering if the entire thing is too silly for the show’s tone.
  • “If we don’t patronize the only Syrian restaurant left in town, there’ll be nothing left but pan-pizzas and make-your-own salads.”
  • More Darryl, please.

2 responses to “The Office, “New Leads”: The sales department smashed my sandwich.

  1. This ep was a solid “meh.”

    I did like when Michael was so proud of himself for using the word “complicit” as if using a somewhat sophisticated word was enough of an argument in itself.

  2. I agree this was a pretty poor episode, but I still love the show. I’m willing to take the good with the bad.

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