On the one hand, it felt like the amount of pre-show hype for Ferrell’s guest arc created outsized expectations. On the other, there was a not-inconsiderable amount of worry among the show’s devoted fans, who wondered if his presence might unfairly overshadow Steve Carell‘s departure in a couple of weeks.
The good news is that Ferrell fit in quite well with the rest of the cast. While new branch manager Deangelo Vickers has more than his share of quirks, he’s not the big, broad character we’re used to seeing him play. People who tuned in expecting the “Talladega Nights” version of Ferrell might have been disappointed, but the show’s diehards are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Deangelo is pitched at the same level as the people around him. (I am, anyway.)
The less good news is that “Training Day” was only a pretty good “Office” episode. There were small bits of really good stuff related to the staff’s trying to make good with the new boss — pretty much everything Darryl did to express his love for the Southwest, for instance, Erin’s complete freeze-up over which way to answer the phone and Andy’s resigned/disgusted “I guess this is my life now” after the last of his increasingly desperate attempts to make Deangelo laugh.
There were also moments in the opening at the hotel bar and the hug scene near the end of the episode where you saw the chemistry that Carell and Ferrell have (“Why’d you have to be so damn good?” Michael asks Deangelo. “I’m adequate,” Deangelo replies). But both of those scenes also felt slightly indulgent, as if the show just let the two pals riff for a while. Their cell-phone bit in the opening felt particularly drawn-out.
Deangelo’s arrival also set the stage for one more (one final?) fit of pique from Michael about not being the center of attention. We’ve seen that before, lots of times, albeit without anyone swatting peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches from the air. But when Jim reminds him why Deangelo’s there in the first place — “You’re the one who decided to leave. He’s our new boss — you know we have to do this” — it’s a nice reminder to us as well that even if we have seen that beat from Michael dozens of times in the past, we might not see it again.
What did you think of Ferrell’s first trip to “The Office”?