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Office Fodder

The Office: Golden Ticket

Steve-Carell.jpg It's been awhile since Michael screwed up something on a major scale. But this week, he returns to form. Did he:

    A) Take potential female customers for wings at Hooters, and asking they dress the part for the authentic experience;

    B) Convert the warehouse into a giant swimming pool... with all the boxes of paper still in it;

    C) Create a Willy Wonka-themed marketing plan to give customers discounts

Given that the episode title is "Golden Ticket," I'm assuming you surmised it's C, although A and B are still strong future possibilities.

Michael, always looking for a way to increase sales, decides he's holding a golden ticket promotion. Golden ticket should ring a bell. As in, Willy Wonka and the acid-laced Chocolate Factory golden ticket. To emphasize his enthusiasm and/or confirm he's completely unfit to be a branch manager, Michael dresses for work as Willy Wonka.

He explains the promotion: There are five tickets, placed at random inside five boxes of paper that are sent out to customers. Random, it turns out, is the operative word here, as you'll find out. Ticket holders get 10 percent off, and admission to a scary but eventful trip through a nonunionized candy factory.

Jim gets a call from a Blue Cross insurance person who says they got not one, but five golden tickets. Doing the math for you because it's a Friday and you're tired: Five tickets x 10 percent off=50 percent off an order for Dunder Mifflin Scranton's largest customer.

Michael is screwed. He tries shifting the blame to his employees, who quickly remind him he was the idiot in this marketing village. When David from corporate calls, Michael has Pam lie and say he's at different events to avoid the call. Examples, Pam said, include "at an Obama fashion show... whatever that is," and "a colonoscopy."

It turns out Michael didn't need the colonoscopy, because David rips him a new one for costing the branch tons of money with the unapproved discount. Michael decides to tell David it was all Dwight's idea.

That means Michael has to convince Dwight it was really his idea in the first place. Dwight, always at the ready, whips out his journal to read an entry about how Michael created the golden tickets.

Michael: "Why do you have a diary?"
Dwight: "To keep secrets from my computer."

Meanwhile, Kevin, who got a girl's number last episode, has been asking for dating advice. Andy, now back from his solo honeymoon trip, says Kevin should hold off on asking the girl out so he doesn't lose all the power.

Jim, however, said Kevin shouldn't wait. Then Jim, Pam and Andy get in an argument whether Kevin should touch the girl at all on the date. Andy, it's clear, is a lover scorned after Angela froze his heart. What he ever saw in Angela is only for Andy to know. A Russian winter is warmer than Angela.

Michael is still trying to convince Dwight to take the fall (which seems entirely out of character, as Michael may be selfish but he's not disloyal, especially to his most loyal follower). Dwight should move on from Dunder Mifflin, Michael says, something Michael doesn't think he could do himself.

Everything comes to a head when David shows up. Michael assumes it's so Dwight can get fired for the golden ticket idea, but David actually has good news. He saved a bunch of money on his car insur... um... Blue Cross loved the golden ticket idea and decided to deal exclusively with Dunder Mifflin, a huge business coup. That's great, except David thinks it's Dwight's idea... and Dwight doesn't say anything to the contrary. I say this is payback for when Michael tried to take Dwight's thunder at the salesmen of the year award show.

David: "How about a big round of applause for Mr. Dwight Schrute. This is huge!"
Dwight: "That's what she said."

Of course, since everyone is mad at Michael for putting the company in jeopardy, Jim, Pam and others don't tell David it was actually Michael's idea. Michael can't stand seeing someone else get credit, so he barges in to the conference room to tell David what actually happened.

This erupts into a back-and-forth between Michael and Dwight about their brilliant ideas. A sample:

Toilet Buddy (Michael): A circular net you put in the toilet to catch your change, wallet... bowel movements, you know, whatever.
Horse Boat (Dwight): A boat placed around a horse to go from land to sea seamlessly. I think he's taking the horsepower metaphor too far.

David is fed up with it all and decides nobody is getting the credit for the idea. Michael gives his always naive final thought, saying he's just glad people now know it was his idea.

Back to romance: Kevin meets his girl in the parking lot and says he just wants to be honest with her. He compliments her smile and asks her on a date (she says yes). Then, he pulls a Kevin:

Kevin (glances down): "Boobs."
Girl: *blushes*
Andy (watching from the office): "Well, it's his funeral."

Thoughts: Here's how I imagine this brainstorming session went. The eight hundred producers (no, seriously, there are so many producers on this show you'd think they are the butt of a "How many light bulbs" joke) needed a compact, self-contained story idea. Somebody had recently watched "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on late-night cable, and had fallen asleep after "I've Got the Golden Ticket" but before the Oompa Loompas (which is unfortunate, as I would've loved to have seen Phyllis and Stanley in purple face paint).

Mindy Kaling, who wrote this script, put together a storyline around Michael's hairbrane marketing scheme. The producers, satisfied with an episode that was straightforward with little character development, said, "Sweet! Can we get that Alba chick to come back to play Violet? No?"

It was a decent episode. I usually am more lenient and optimistic about "The Office," as I think too many viewers expect a gem like "Christmas Party" or "Basketball" every time. I'm fine watching episodes like these. I just wish there were a few more laugh out loud moments, although Dwight had a few good ones.

I'm glad Kevin is getting more on-screen time. Others, like Angela and Phyllis, were barely around. It's an ensemble cast, so that makes sense. But when will Creed get his chance?

Michael's antics were a little off-putting. I easily believe he'd come up with a crazy idea and be mad he didn't get the credit. But it doesn't seem in him to so quickly throw someone else under the bus with little remorse. I suppose he would've blamed it on Toby if possible.

What were your favorite moments? Did Michael's idea and actions seem too outlandish, even for him? Were you hoping, like me, that the staff would get on a row boat down a mystical tunnel?

Posted by Andy Shaw on March 12, 2009 10:53 PM
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