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'The Office': Mob-busters

October 16, 2009 | 10:20 am

Dwight_theoffice Thursday’s episode of "The Office" was sans the physical presence of newlyweds Jim and Pam, who were off in Puerto Rico for their honeymoon, and sans much laughter. 

Kevin took full advantage of Jim’s empty office. It started simple. He needed a place to fart. I’m sure the Dunder Mifflinites are thankful he spared them that smell. But then he just stayed, bringing along his jar of M&Ms in the process. It wasn’t long before he was answering Jim’s phone and committing identity fraud. When the credit card company called to verify unusual spending activity in Puerto Rico, Kevin’s attempt to pass as Jim was a little too successful. And the credit card company canceled the account, leaving poor Mr. and Mrs. Halpert scrambling to fix things. But it’s partially Jim’s fault, right? Doesn’t Jim know you shouldn’t leave papers with his social security number on them on his desk? Especially in that office.

And, though, Jim and Pam weren’t there physically, they were still there via phone. First there was Kevin. Then Oscar tried getting their thoughts on how to dissuade Michael from another one of his hair-brained ideas. Even Michael found a way to reach them. Why did the newlyweds keep taking their calls?

But the episode centered almost entirely on Michael’s weird dealings with an insurance salesman, Mr. Grotti, who Dwight and Andy believed was in the mob. And, of course, Michael fell victim to their influence. So when it came time to meet with Grotti during a lunch meeting to discuss the insurance plan, Dwight and Andy -- dressed as a mechanic -- were by Michael’s side. And with Grotti’s intimidating ordering style -- “I’ll send it back" -- the three stooges started to believe their suspicions were right. But it was a scene devoid of funny moments, aside from Michael’s attempt to mimic Grotti’s ordering style. Even Andy’s stab at being a mechanic and recharging a car battery fell flat.

But leave it to Dwight to inject some laughter. Who else loved when he noted the toughness the sound an R makes, which, naturally, explains why we use the word “murder” and not “muckduck.”

Maybe the blandness of the episode can be attributed to the lack of office characters. Bring back Kelly and Angela! Where were Stanley and Phyllis? One line from Ryan?  More office interaction, please. The Dwight/Andy reliance is fun and their characters mesh well together, but it's not enough to sustain the episode.  

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute. Credit: NBC Universal

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