‘The Office’ Recap: Threat Level Midnight

S07E17 A friend on Facebook (actually, I don’t really remember how I met the guy, we’ll go with random guy I’ve never actually met in person or sober) commented on how this week saw The Office jump the shark. Now, in a sense, he’s right. This type of episode would not work at all had it aired the first season. But then again, if they aired an episode from the first season right now, it wouldn’t work at all either.

‘Joke’s on you Goldenface, that man was a wanted animal rapist.’ – Michael Scarn

But has it “jumped the shark?” I define “jumping the shark” as focusing so much on spectacle that you lose focus of the original intent of the show. From the beginning, The Office has been about Michael’s grand delusion (at least when it comes to Michael) and how he acts upon his impulses. This time, it’s just on a grander scale. And considering that he said he has spent the past twelve years working on his film, we can forgive the movie for being pretty impressive. What’s the difference between Michael screening his movie and Michael throwing himself a roast or staging an awards show at Chili’s?

So no, I don’t think it has “jumped the shark.” This is completely within the possibilities of The Office for Michael to produce and film a full length film and again, he’s had twelve years to do it. My only tiny complaint was that Michael’s film quality was way too good and consistent. An amateur, especially considering Michael’s competence, would not have film that good available to him. But that’s a small complaint. I would be remiss to not quote Troy Barnes, “I saw an episode of Happy Days where he literally jumped a shark and it was the best episode EVER.”

‘Heads I do it. Tails I don’t. Best out of seven.’ – Michael Scarn

In the episode, Michael finally admitted that he had completed Threat Level Midnight and the office is excited to see the disaster. They try to keep it together knowing how sensitive Michael would be if they laughed during the movie. Everyone reacts positively to their performances, save for Daryl and Dwight. Daryl wanted his performance as an African American president to inspire his daughter. But Barack Obama had to go and ruin that inspirational speech. Dwight thought his character was a robot, but Michael never told him that. Actually Michael did make him a robot, but after twelve years on the same project, little details tend to slip.

But while everyone else got the joke and enjoyed the film, Holly didn’t quite see it. There was no way the writers would let Holly go so soon after Michael just got her and considering their story wasn’t that funny and felt a little forced, we’ll just skip over it.

‘That’s how you do the Scarn.’ – Everyone!

Yeah, yeah, though. How was the movie? Awful, yet endearing. We got to run the gamut on everyone who used to be a regular part of the show. Karen, Roy, Jan, even Ryan’s little Hobbit friend showed up. The story was terrible, the acting shameful, and it didn’t matter in the slightest. When the surprise of the latest guest star wore off, Michael made the script clever enough to make up for it. I mean, who else would make a coin toss with the president “the best of seven?” Or have a random dance break in the middle of an action movie? Michael Scott would.

And that’s what made this episode work. Michael Scott would do something like this and it would end up looking like Threat Level Midnight. The set up to this joke was made way back in the second season and we needed these five seasons in between for the pay off. Dammit, we’ll miss you Michael Scarn.