For those of us who can’t help laughing at Will Ferrell no matter what the man does, Thursday night’s episode of “The Office” on NBC was a riot from end-to-end.
This guy can just enter a scene with that quizzical, clueless look on his face and we can’t help doubling up over him. If you don’t feel that way, then watching Ferrell in his first episode (of four) as Deangelo Vickers, the oddly named incoming (but likely temporary) replacement for Michael Scott as Dunder Mifflin regional manager, might have been slow-going for you.
Will Ferrell on “The Office”: Hit or Miss?
Understandably, the show’s producers wanted to make full use of their high-profile guest-star, so Ferrell was in almost every scene – mostly performing with Steve Carell. That’s a lot of weird comic energy to pack into practically every moment of this half-hour sitcom. Not only were their two characters competing for the attention of the “Office” workers – who were doing their best to get in good with the new guy – but their cohabitation in the relatively claustrophobic confines of the “Office” suite placed them in competition for the attention of viewers at home as well. And for some, it might have been too much to deal with.
But not for us. This is what we like about “free” TV: Once in a while, TV gives us these opportunities to watch great comic minds play off of each other – and we don’t have to spend a dime. For example, we used to have this same thought all the time when watching Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce work together on “Frasier.” We used to think: We’d pay money to see these two guys if they were on stage somewhere, but thanks to television, we get to sit at home and watch them for nothing.
Same thing with Will Ferrell on “The Office.” We loved how Deangelo and Michael met – bonding in a hotel bar without knowing each other’s identity, then having a hilarious cellphone conversation with each other from across the room. Was some of their dialogue improvised? It seemed so.
“I tried to get an animal Olympics going,” Deangelo divulged when the two discovered they both love the Olympics.
“What happened?” asked Michael Scott.
“Life happened,” answered Deangelo.
Other highlights of the episode included: The “shave-off” scene in which Deangelo had a barber come to the office to give him a shave and Michael recruited clumsy Erin (Ellie Kemper) to shave him; the scene in which Deangelo and Michael argued over how Erin – the receptionist – should answer the phone, leaving her too flustered to answer it at all; and the scenes where Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) was forced to clown for the new boss, who kept showing up to ask him to make him laugh. The inspiration for Helms’ antics had to be old Jerry Lewis movies – that’s how manic they were.
Thursday night’s episode of “The Office” was the first new episode of the series in a month. The episode attracted 7.691 million viewers, according to Nielsen overnights — an increase over the most recent original episode on March 24 that drew 7.07 million. Reruns have been scoring roughly half that; last week’s repeat, for example, drew 3.59 million.
We can’t wait to see how Ferrell’s subsequent episodes play out. And, of course, there’s the ongoing story of Michael Scott’s exit, which culminates in the episode airing April 28 on NBC.