Can “The Office” survive without Steve Carell? That’s been the question on everyone’s mind, from fans of the show to the execs who have a vested economic interest in its success. Well, while we can’t pretend that last night’s episode was extraordinary, we can say that from what we’ve seen, there might just be some life left in this series. Take a glance at our review to see how we felt…

The Players:

Episode Title: “The Inner Circle”

With Michael out of the picture, Deangelo takes control of the office. At first, he appears to be an ideal boss, treating his employees to perks that were unheard of in the days of Michael Scott. However, it quickly becomes clear that not only is Denagelo dangerously incompetent, he is also something of a sexist. Torn between loyalty to his principles and the desire to remain employed, Jim finds himself in a difficult situation.

The Good:

  • Will Ferrell: When does Will Ferrell not deliver the comedy goods? While his style is anything but subtle, he’s always willing to make a fool out of himself for the laughs, and it is hard not to respect a performer who won’t let ego get in the way of entertainment. Sure, this week’s episode of “The Office” wasn’t his grand opus, but whether he’s juggling with invisible equipment or simply scaring Jim out of his office with little more than a disapproving glare, he’s bringing the funny. He’s not Steve Carell, but the creative team behind this series knows–for now, at least–that to try to find someone to play that same role would be futile.
  • Mindy Kaling: Speaking of performers who are willing to go all out for the sake of the comedy, well, Mindy Kaling has been a consistent force of nature on this show. In front of the camera, she is willing to portray a character who is about as likeable as the girls on “My Super Sweet 16.” Behind it, she is a fantastic writer who has played a major role in some of the show’s best episodes. She isn’t given too much to do this episode, but when she responds to Ryan’s assertion that he would die for her with a heartfelt “Really?”, it’s difficult to not give her credit.

The So-So:

  • Ending: Upon injuring himself while attempting a less-than-impressive basketball stunt, Deangelo returns to the office a little worse for wear. This may be the one moment in the episode when Will Ferrell strays a little too far into the absurd realm he’s often most comfortable in, taking the performance in an over-the-top direction that isn’t in keeping with the overall tone of the show. It’s kind of funny, but hard to find believable.
  • Jim: Jim, as we know, always has his heart in the right place, but c’mon, let’s be real here: having your heart in the right place often makes you boring. He’s rarely been the comedic powerhouse of the show, but that is especially evident in this episode, when he’s put in a tough spot and doesn’t do too much to keep us entertained. With a limited amount of time to make an audience laugh, the writers should avoid wasting moments on subplots that don’t add much in the way of humor.
  • New girl in town: In an effort to prove that he is no sexist, Deangelo hires a pretty young woman to take on a major role in the office. Now, we understand that the point of her character is to be boring and useless, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that it is rarely engaging to watch someone who is boring and useless. Seems like there was a missed opportunity for some comedy here.

Overall:

Did it blow our mind and makes us want to rush to sleep so we could fast forward to the time tomorrow when we can discuss the episode at the water cooler? Nah, not quite. But for a half hour’s worth of entertainment, it was still decent fun, and given that this is the first episode with Steve Carell nowhere in sight, we’re relieved to say that the show can still deliver the goods without him. There’s a lot of talent in this cast and crew, and everyone deserves a chance to shine.

Rating: 6.5/10

“The Office” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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What did you think of last night’s episode?