The Office” welcomes one of the biggest guest stars it has ever had this week to distract us from the fact that one of the key ingredients in the success of the show–Steve Carell–won’t be sticking around much longer. Well, for what it’s worth, the distraction succeeded. As it turns out, Will Ferrell is pretty funny. Who would have guessed?

The Players:

  • Director: Paul Lieberstein
  • Writer: Daniel Chun
  • Cast: Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Ed Helms, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer

Episode Title: “Training Day”

Michael initially welcomes his replacement, Deangelo Vickers, with open arms, but begins to feel some animosity towards the man when others in the office express their admiration for him and when Vickers’s managerial style conflicts with Michael’s. Andy struggles to amuse his new boss, Jim and Pam worry that they’ve started off on the wrong foot with him, and Dwight makes it very clear that he would have preferred to take over the position.

The Good:

  • Will Ferrell: As is to be expected, Will Ferrell delivers the laughs as the new boss in town. While credit must be given to the writer–lines like “everyone I know who has ever gone skiing is dead” are just absurd enough to work–Ferrell’s deadpan delivery is pitch-perfect. Known for going over-the-top in ways that would make Jack Nicholson look subtle, it is fun to be reminded that Will Ferrell can be as hilarious playing a role with a straight face as he is when he’s in full-on Ricky Bobby mode.
  • Keeping it funny: With Michael soon to leave the show, you could be forgiven for fearing that the series would begin to take on a more reflective (aka “less entertaining”) tone during his final episodes. Fortunately, everyone involved seems to know that we primarily go to “The Office” for laughs, and that is what we got this week. We”l save our tears for “Grey’s Anatomy” or something like that.
  • Darryl: Darryl tends to be such a confident character that it was funny to see him  eager to impress Vickers, behaving like a nervous middle-school student who isn’t sure if he sounded like a nerd in front of his crush. “That’s one of my favorite regions; I sounded so lame, didn’t I?”
  • Andy: If Darryl was making some poor attempts to impress his boss, Andy was going for broke. It turns out that Vickers is a fan of the same kind of comedy that babies find clever: people being physically hurt. Andy takes full advantage of this, going so far as to spill hot coffee on his own crotch. It shouldn’t be funny, but given the context, it worked a lot more than we would expect.

The So-So:

  • Kevin’s wig: One of the running gags throughout the episode was the fact that Kevin was sporting a wig. While the writer did manage to pull one good line out of the situation (“Is that Ashton Kutcher? No, it’s Kevin. Equally handsome, equally smart”) it more or less seemed like a wasted joke, as it didn’t exactly develop into anything funnier as the episode progressed.
  • Dwight: We all knew that Dwight would be disappointed with the fact that he wasn’t awarded the job of Office Manager, but predcitability isn’t such a terrible thing if the writer can find a funny way to approach the situation. Sadly, such was not the case this episode. With Dwight involved, we expected there to be a little more humor going on in this subplot.

The Bad:

  • Jim and Pam: Like everyone else, they do their best to get along with Vickers, but he isn’t all that interested in hearing about their baby. Which should be a reasonably funny scenario, but just doesn’t seem to work all that well here. It feels as if someone began to tell a potentially funny joke, but paused right before getting to the punchline. (Although Vickers’s final line of the episode in regards to the baby was pretty good, we’ll admit.)

Overall:

We were all looking forward to seeing what Will Ferrell could bring to this already entertaining show, and he definitely delivered. He was easily the best element of last night’s episode, and it is a shame to think that he probably won’t be a permnanent cast member. Either way, this was vintage “The Office,” packed with enough laughs-per-minute to qualify it as one of the funniest sitcoms on TV.

Rating: 8.5/10

“The Office” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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What did you think of last night’s episode? Did you think Will Ferrell did a good job?