The Office's Season 9 Premiere: Pray Until You're a Cat Person



The Office S09E01: "New Guys"

"Don't you guys have everything? It's just a paper company."

There's nothing like seeing the end to make us look back through our regrets, is there? Like a montage of facepalms, these are the days of our lives.

It appears that the people behind The Office felt the same way when faced with the final season. It's clear they reflected on some criticism and used the premiere to address a few of the issues that've been plaguing them. They wasted no time; the opening scene found a way for a star to exit (Kelly went out on a punchline, though I'm still dubious over whether the glee she experienced upon hearing "Miami" would cloud the chagrin that always sets in when someone follows up with "Ohio"), a storyline to be reset (Andy's back in power), a different storyline to be erased (Dwight's son will have to wait), and a business opportunity to shake up the world's most boring couple (bland Jam).

And that's all the matters so far. There are two reasons that there are only five people in Season 9's opening credits, despite The Office's large ensemble cast. The first is time, because getting all those people into the opening would make the sequence almost as long as The Newsroom's, which feels slightly longer than Ben-Hur. The second is that Dwight, Jim, Pam, Andy, and Erin are the five people who are now the core of this show. Whether this season is great or not isn't going to fall on the shoulders of Stanley or Meredith or even Creed (sometimes I wish it were Creed). It's the inner circle that'll make it or break it.

And, to that end, I think they did a pretty good job.

The Andy vs. Nellie thing may be setting the table for a meal for which we haven't received a menu but, for now, it's pretty silly. The heart of the episode focused on the two characters who are arguably the heart of the series. The look back didn't end behind the scenes: Dwight and Jim got parallel storylines that allowed them a vision of themselves in the form of fresh-faced goofballs. And neither liked what they saw.

Let's face it: Jam needed a shake-up. You know it. I know it. Your cat probably knows it. Since they got married, it's pretty much been more entertaining to watch that plant in the confessionals grow. So I was ecstatic to see Jim—after listening to Pete talk about dreams and ambitions and subsequently realizing that part of him has been cold and dead since he turned a Beesly into a Halpert—take action. What I'm afraid of, however, is that the action won't be enough.

Pam isn't an established dream-killer. She might have repeated a few dozen times this episode that she likes her boring life, but would she stand in the way of Jim doing something important with his? She might be upset that he made a decision without consulting her first, but no, I don't think this is something that will be a major upset for them. Especially since, if they decide to do the long-distance thing, with Jim going to Philadelphia while Pam stays in Scranton, they've done it before. I'm not saying they would be jumping the shark (I have very specific conditions regarding that phrase), but there was a time when Pam wanted to go to art school and Jim patiently waited for her. Granted, now they have a family and she would have to, presumably, be left alone with the kids or quit her job to move. I just don't think Pam has been established as the type who would stand in Jim's way. It feels like a one-episode problem..

That's how bland Jim and Pam are: You can't even conceive of them doing anything rash or theatrical based on emotions. They're like the anti-Bravermans.

Dwight, however, is all theatrics. Between ridiculous slapstick and throw-up scenes, he identified Clark as his doppelganger, either his younger double who wants to take his place or an omen of his irrelevance/death. I suppose that explains why Dwight decided that, instead of proving his worth through his job (which is all Clark seems to want—to be a salesperson), he wanted to prove his vitality through feats of strength. He failed, of course, but leave it to Dwight to escalate something until it's too ridiculous to be worthwhile.

And that's when Jim and Dwight's tracts defined themselves as parallel. In an effort to not be erased from the world, either by being forgettable or through the machinations of a guy named Fart, both of these men, the beating hearts of this show, took giant risks. While we only saw the beginning of Jim's (the phone call), we saw Dwight's play out. And it didn't end well. How do you think Jim will fare?

All in all, "New Guys" was a decent season premiere for The Office. It was a moderately sharp episode with some of the things we love (Jim convincing Dwight about the sales meeting and the belt above black was beautiful) and callbacks to the things we're nostalgic for (interesting that Andy made an effort to recall Michael with regard to Toby). While the episode still wasn't on par with those of the show's earliest seasons, I didn't roll my eyes even once. The episode wasn't lazy—and for The Office, that's a win.


NOTES


– I could've done without the blue throw-up. Why was there so much? And right after it was mentioned? It was like Chekov's barf take but it went off before the first act even started.

– I really liked the turtle story. I also like that Oscar was more willing to tell Kevin he was putting the pieces of the shell together wrong rather than just convince him that that turtle is already dead.

– BJ Novak probably wishes he could go to "Ohio," too.

– The crew actually responded when Pam questioned why the documentary is still being filmed. I know a lot of people can't wait to see who's in charge of this production and will love it when they break the fourth wall. Obviously, the characters ask questions of the crew often, but the crew very rarely responds. The only time I can think of it happening is when they showed Pam evidence that Dwight and Angela were together ("E-mail Surveillance"). To me, it's disconcerting.

– Angela: "If you pray hard enough, you can turn yourself into a cat person." Oscar: "Those guys always turn back, Angela."

– I didn't really think we needed another relationship on this show (we already have Jim and Pam, Andy and Erin, Darryl and Val, Meredith and Pete's face) but at least Oscar is seeing someone outside of the office. And he's a (state) Senator, too!

– Creed: "I laughed and I cried. Not bad for a day in the life of a dog food company." If Creed isn't summing up the episode for us every week, we're wasting our time.



QUESTIONS


– How will Pam take Jim's decision?

– How long until Oscar gets caught? Will a cat in jeans be his downfall?

– What is our plan for Nellie?

– Do we think all the slapstick with Dwight was funny or kind of cheap?

– Do you have "Eternal Flame" stuck in your head like I do? Is it the version from Pushing Daisies? Samesies!



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I hate it when they make a certain character "dumb, just for show reasons". Kevin was pretty good in season 3, when he was kinda stupid, but no cared. Oscar will be caught,



it's just a matter of when. The cat actually will probably will be his downfall somehow.
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I'm hoping for a happy ending for Oscar and The State Senator.
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Generally, I think I was okay with or liked everything about the episode except Dwight's beet-power-drink vomiting. Really? Do simple barf gags still make anybody laugh?



Creed's dog food company line probably made me laugh the hardest.



I like the Jim-Pam story. They've gotten a bit bland, and this can shake them up a little. Obviously, both are too "nice" to have a big blowup or even think about divorce, but I can see Pam being angry for a few episodes, then succumbing to understanding where Jim's coming from and both moving to Philly. Or Pam could have secretly wanted this. I highly doubt they'll go with a long distance relationship though. I think they'll both quit at about the same time and move out together.
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It was a good episode. Seemed almost like mid season Office with a good mix of humour and drama, and a very needed Jim/Dwight interaction.



As to the questions

1) Pam's gonna almost certainly go along with what Jim wants. He's sacrificed for her and now she'll sacrifice for him. The drama might occur when she's upset he's always in Philly being Philly Jim. I think this might be setting up an end where the Halperts move to Philly, but it's too early to say. After all last time things started getting big for Pam she just ended up back in Scranton.

2) Oscar can't keep this up for long. I think he's a pretty good person deep down and this will start to eat at him.

3) I have no idea why Nellie is here. To give Andy someone to be mean to? It's gonna get old, especially if he's also gonna rag on Toby. Michael was pushing hatred status when he was just hating on Toby, if Andy has two nemeses he's gonna look like a jerk.

4) I really enjoyed Dwight's slapstick. The repeated takes of him falling off the slackline slayed me.

5) Every song I hear is the version from Pushing Daisies.,, except "Birdhouse in Your Soul" cause They Might Be Giants did that so perfectly the first time it made all covers irrelevant and useless. Sorry Kristen Chenoweth.
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it was okay. it set the table more than anything. glad jim finally wants to try to do something more with his career. his "if this becomes my career i will throw myself in front of a train" quote was a long long time ago; but that doesn't mean he doesn't still have that drive.



i know dwight is one of the most loveable characters on the show, but i feel like he's been a very inconsistent character for the last few seasons. looks like they may set him back up with angela, which would be fine, maybe he'll seem more natural.



i think andy and erin don't make it. havent been a fan of andy since he took over. and nellie is a useless character. why bother bringing her back? she stinks.
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I like the new guys, but the rest of the show was lacking something...Michael Scott. It just isn't the same without him.
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I actually hate that they called back to the management hating Toby. I've never worked in an office, so perhaps this is an industry joke about how management hates HR that I just don't get, but I liked that Andy was carving out his own niche as a manager instead of just mimicking Michael Scott. Now it feels like they're just rehashing old jokes.
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I'm glad to hear that Jim is going back to his ambition. That was one of the things I didn't like in the later seasons, that he dropped the whole 'Philly Jim' thing. I hope he ends up in a good job that he enjoys. Didn't he want to be a sports writer or something? If he gets a good enough job I could see Pam raising the kids and working on her art. I think I might start watching again just to see how it ends.
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I loved this episode, I hope it's a taste of things to come, it was like The Office used to be. Andy was even acting douchy like Michael did with Toby and Nellie, I could have sworn those lines were written for Michael, beautiful. It's a step above last season, I think The Office might just go out on a good note and leave a great taste in everybody's mouth, I was really worried there.
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It was nice seeing Jack Coleman even briefly.
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Creed is and always has been my absolute favorite character. Also, Philadelphia and Scranton are 2 1/2 hours apart. There are thousands of families that deal with that "long-distance relationship" every day. It's called living in Allentown. The Office sure has a lame idea of what might tear a family apart.
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I think it actually delivered. Good episode. I thought it felt more like the office of old, and silliness was always a part of it.



Also, to be honest I'm not sure you're reviewing this right. Your reviews are very descriptive of what happened in the episode. That never bodes well with comedy, in any situation really. If you try to explain a silly comedy to anyone it always comes out as batshit insane, you have to have the feel of what's going on with the character's tone, personality and motives. Just my opinion though.
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I liked the episode. I was prepared for a full on disappointment and was pleasantly surprised. Creed is the most underused character in the last 10 years. Usually when a show has a gem like creed they overuse him and jam this character down our throats until we can't stand him anymore, while i am very happy that the writers haven't succumb to this temptation, they blantantly underused him. The Jim gag with the karate presentation and belt above black had me almost convinced i was watching season 3 all over again.
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I liked the episode. I was prepared for a full on disappointment and was pleasantly surprised. Creed is the most underused character in the last 10 years. Usually when a show has a gem like creed they overuse him and jam this character down our throats until we can't stand him anymore, while i am very happy that the writers haven't succumb to this temptation, they blantantly underused him. The Jim gag with the karate presentation and belt above black had me almost convinced i was watching season 3 all over again.
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IMO, the real change that mattered was the attempt to make Andy interesting as a driving force for the show, I'm not sure it'll work but he was at least more interesting to watch than usual.

I don't know if I agree that Jim & Pam needed a shakeup, but they did need to recognize they were getting stagnate as people and find something else, it was just too easy the way it was here. There's never any tension between them despite being on close quarters all the time, and becoming content at Dunder Mifflin is a believable - if disappointing - choice for work, but not for personal life. Honestly, I think they both need to get the hell out of Scranton, the problem shouldn't be Jim long distance, it should be them getting on with their lives without this office and these people.

While this was a cute episode, it felt like not enough for a season premiere, but I'll take it as it comes.

Oscar will get caught when the state senator brings cat hairs home to his allergic baby.

Dwight's slapstick was cheap.
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I liked this episode overall but seriously, Creed totally makes this show.
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I think Pam was trying to push Jim towards the Philadelphia opportunity. Her comments seemed more veiled then sincere. And how can you look down o their relationship as boring? To me, it's nice to see a stable couple on TV.
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Seasons 1 to 6 were great, watched all the episodes many times ... 7 average, hit and miss, 8 (last season) so lousy I was barely watching the episodes entirely just once !! I am surprised to read positive reviews about this 1st episode, it was really average, some funny stuff but also many things was were awful, even embarrassing ... that turtle bit was so stupid, how old is this guy, 5 ?? I was hating it after 5 seconds and it went on and on and on about that cracked turtle. I laughed when Dwight was hanging from the bike at the end but all this seems so implausible anyway, is he a cartoon character ?
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Looked like Wile E. Coyote stuff there on the screen. I don't even like any of the characters anymore and they added annoying ones now, Nellie's still there ? The 2 new guys, Dwight Jr and the New Jim. Blue vomit, how is that funny, unless you're 5 (again !!) Cat vs dog person, snoozer. They should set the show in a bar, a gym, since they hardly talk about selling paper now. I give it a C-
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Creed FTW!!! One of my top 5 episodes, there I said it.... Every Character was classic and on there mark! poor dwight having to do the slack rope walk on a suddenly VERY TIGHT rope.
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Creed's dog food company line was the only laugh I got in the entire episode. Kevin's story was mildly amusing, but it just shows him being stupider than he's ever been.



And why oh why do they keep showcasing Ed Helms? He's a terrible actor and not funny at all. God, I hate him so much.
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1) The blue vomit cracked me up. 2) Pam should go along with this to make Jim happy, but it might take her a while. 3) Andy came back really mean. I hope he tones it down. I know Nellie tried to steal his job, but come on! 4) Dwight is a cartoon.
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Pam should go balistic since they're married and you just don't do what you want to do, haha. But that's good since we need a shake up with them. I was hoping that temp girl would have really caused that and Jim went for it with her but no dice. There desperately needs to be a shake up with Jim and Pam so anything I say.
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I thought all in all this was a really good episode of the office. It really reminded me of the early seasons of the show humor-wise (the last 2 seasons were really pretty bad), and it got the storyline moving in the right direction. I also liked it when pam asked the filming crew why the documentary is still being filmed and they answered "we just wanna know what happens with you guys" or something along those lines, it was a nice meta wink to the fans.

Lets just hope they can maintain the same quality for the rest of the season, this show deserves a good funny ending.
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I hated Kevin's turtle story. I mean that's something a five year old would do, not a grown man. Kevin's an idiot and I don't enjoy his character. He went full retard sometime last season. Aside from that though, I really enjoyed this episode. And I'm glad they're doing something with the State Senator being gay plot other than the odd joke here and there.
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Yeah, Kevin has gone completely off kilter. The joke about about him used to be that his slow speech pattern and demeanour caused people to think he was an idiot, not that he literally was one. At some point they crossed this line and as a result made him completely unrealistic. He is awful now.



Glad to see no character died; that was all in the news before the episode premiered. I'm glad to see that for the first time since the end of season three (when they go together) that Jim and Pam were interesting. Good job by the writers on that and great episode overall.
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