TV RECAP: The Office: ‘New Leads’

I’m probably not alone in this, but the moment I saw “New Leads” listed as tonight’s episode, I was half-expecting, half-hoping for a Scrantonian send-up of Glengarry Glen Ross. Who’d be Shelly? Stanley? Or Phyllis? Would Michael perform his own version of Alec Baldwin’s monologue? Heck, Baldwin’s on 30 Rock, at the very least he could make a guest appearance…

Well, for fans of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the only resemblance is that there are new leads in, they’re gold, and the sales staff can’t have them—and it’s probably for the best because parodies are like Betty White hosting SNL bacon-wrapped Peeps: in the end, never as funny as the idea.

Also good because it would’ve weighed an otherwise very good episode down.

The titular new leads are $50,000 worth of names Sabre has spent to be doled out to the sales staff as per the corporate office’s new “Sales is king” policy.  Naturally the power’s gone to the salesmen’s heads—Phyllis refuses to answer Angela’s e-mails; Andy (while on the phone, no less) flaunts his supposed dibs to everything in the office, including Darryl’s pencil; and Dwight believes he’s in the same company as Jesus (“If sales is king, and I’m the king of sales, that makes me the King of Kings).

The rest of the office is fed up, and Michael exacerbates tensions by giving the leads to the non-sales staff, who hide them. To locate the leads, sales has to undergo a series of sick-and-twisted trials from Phyllis filling out a stack of unnecessary paperwork (only to watch Angela shred them when she’s finished); Stanley listening to Ryan and Kelly argue over Keeping Up with the Kardashians; and Jim going on a treasure hunt devised by Michael (“It says ‘Go to my “moppy” place.’” “He means ‘mopey’—it’s under that street lamp he thinks was in Casablanca”).

Dwight’s leads are held by Kevin, who, under physical torture, says he hid them in the trash can…which has already been emptied…leading Dwight to the dumpster…which has also been emptied…leading Dwight and Michael to the Scranton dump.

Jim and the rest of the sales staff hold a private conference in the break room and conclude that the only way to patch things up is to give the non-sales people 2 percent of their commissions. They call a meeting, complete with doughnuts and éclairs (Angela prefers non-fruit filling), but their co-workers are happy enough with the treats that they relinquish the leads before the offer’s made. (I wonder how many times in real-life that’s ever worked.)

At the dump a frustrated Michael and Dwight have it out, Dwight lamenting his passed-up offer to be assisting-to-the-regional-managering of Home Depot’s CEO and his current job (“I’ve hitched my cart to a horse with no legs”). It culminates in a trash fight before the two reconcile and drive back to the office with a scavenged beanbag chair.

The episode ends with Andy and Erin sharing a sweet moment and their first kiss atop a mound of trash.

In all, another first-rate installment that gives each character a moment to shine. It’s especially great that they’ve brought back Craig Robertson as Darryl, who, in addition to having a voice that could melt diamonds, has a hilarious flair for delivering his lines as though every word were a dire warning. The awkward warmer/colder game Andy and Erin play was another highlight that made excellent use of Ed Helms’ gift for cartoonish-yet-oddly-human facial expressions and Ellie *sigh* Kemper’s cheerful naïveté. And “the lost-and-found is missing” joke is so stupid, I’m sure I’ve used it many times before…but it’s still good for a laugh.

So no Glengarry; pleased to say that The Office has enough to work with on its own.

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