The eighth season of “The Office” – the first without Steve Carell and his Michael Scott character – has been underwhelming thus far. There have been laughs and strong ensemble work, but the whole thing has been ‘off,’ for lack of a better description. With the holidays behind us, the comedy is back with new episodes, the first being “Trivia,” which gets the second half of the season off to a pretty good start.
Check below for the complete review…
- Director: B.J Novak
- Writers: Steve Heley
- Cast: Rainn Wilson, James Spader, John Krasinski, B.J. Novak, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson, Phyllis Smith
Andy needs to improve sales, so it’s off to a Philadelphia trivia contest to win the prize money. Meanwhile, Dwight is off to a job interview in Florida.
- “Dwight”: I felt the ‘Dwight to Sabre headquarters in Florida for job interview’ story line was first-rate, with Rainn Wilson showing why he is so talented and a joy to watch – on the “The Office” and elsewhere. Dwight’s scenes with Gabe were funny, plenty of quality back and forth between the two. Gabe describing his value to the company due to his toilet-like skill was hilarious. And whoever the secretary is – I like her. She is funny.
- “Trivia”: This is part one, the positive take. Part two below is how I did not like this story line. But it did provide laughs via Kevin and the Einsteins team. I like to think everyone on the planet watching knew what would happen, with the kooky team of Kevin, Meredith, Kelly and Erin winning it all in the end. So yeah, there were laughs, but it dragged on. And I felt Jim was under-utilized!
- Oreo Cookie: Even if everything else about the episode were to suck, Robert California’s line that they haven’t ‘improved on the Oreo’ while serving a plate of Oreos to Dwight would be quite enough. It was just that funny. And who knew Robert liked to wrestle? We have so much to learn about this man.
The Bad (but not that bad):
- Trivia: As I mentioned above, it wasn’t hard to see where the story line was headed. That everything played out in a gay bar because the office crew followed Oscar to his trivia game in Philadelphia didn’t really add much where comedy is concerned.
- Cold Open: It didn’t work for me. They have had some good cold opens this season, but this one was more annoying than anything else.
Like many of the previous 10 episodes in season eight, it was up and down. Yes, there were some laughs and the cast is going to give you quality work even when the writing is so-so. But no sparks, in my opinion. I did enjoy Dwight’s trip to Florida and his interaction with Gabe and Robert. That worked. I could have had more of that and less of almost the whole office staff locked in a trivia battle in a gay bar in Philadelphia.
So I did laugh. And that’s always a good thing if you are committed to watching a TV comedy. But fans of “The Office” have expectations, and this season has been a struggle across the board to meet those expectations – from the realistic to the ‘hey, why can’t it just be like season two?! Please… we need to go back!’
It’s nice to have “The Office” back, and I remain optimistic the remainder of season 8 is going to provide many laughs and many good episodes.
“The Office” airs on NBC at 9pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.
What did you think of last night’s episode?