How Did Will Ferrell Do on "The Office" Last Night?

Slate's Culture Blog
April 15 2011 11:13 AM

How Did Will Ferrell Do on "The Office" Last Night?

Last night, Will Ferrell began his long-awaited four-episode stint on The Office asDeangelo Vickers, the manager who comes in to replace the departing MichaelScott (Steve Carell). Fans have been excited about the news Will Ferrell, youknow, he's kind of a bigdeal but also worried that this bit of mega-stunt casting would pull focusfrom the beloved Carell's grand exit.

During the show's opening scene, I got worried. Michael and Deangelohave what Kellywould call a "meet-cute" they've agreed to meet at a bar, and spend 20minutes chatting each other up before they each realize (via a slightly-too-longcell phone gag) who the other person is. I loved the easy banter between thesetwo old costars, but some of Vickers' lines say, the one about the animalOlympics sounded too much like classic Ferrell absurdities. They pulled me outof the scene and made me think, "Oh yes, that is the star of Anchorman on my TV."

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Things started looking up once the two bosses got to theoffice; I liked how Deangelo's arrival stirred up the place's "feng shooey," asMichael would call it. The disruption provided several opportunities for thesecondary cast to shine like Erin's freak-out over her new phone-answeringinstructions. And I enjoyed Andy's mounting desperation to maintain his comic reputationafter Deangelo dubs him "the office funny guy." (Though I was happy we were spared some sort of novelty a cappella number.)

But that last bit also demonstrated what was really offabout the episode: Namely, that Deangelo doesn't seem to have any internal logic. Is he the kindof evil guy who would make an underling drink hand soap for his own amusement?Or is he an empathetic man the kind who understands that Michael needs to be reassuredthat he was special and important? (You were, Michael! You were!) No matter how ridiculous thecharacters on The Office are, they'realways consistent. I guess thewriters could be foreshadowing something interesting will Michael's finalheroic act be to save the office from this smiling, villainous interloper? but it seemed more likethey were throwing a bunch of punchlines at the wall to see what got a laugh. Thatsaid, I'm happy someone finally told Jim and Pam to shut up about their baby.Can Michael take those two to Colorado with him?

What did you think of the episode? Was it fanfare for itsown sake? Or was it satisfying, like a picture of a turtle? (Speaking of which,have you seenthis ?)

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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