|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Directed by||David Rogers|
|Written by||Carrie Kemper|
|Original air date||January 31, 2013|
|Running time||22 minutes|
"Junior Salesman" is the thirteenth episode of the ninth season of the American comedy television series The Office and the 189th episode overall. It originally aired on National Broadcasting Company on January 31, 2013. The episode was written by Carrie Kemper and directed by David Rogers. The episode features the return of several guest stars, including Chris Diamantopoulos as Brian the boom mike operator, Michael Schur as Dwight's cousin, Mose, Mark Proksch as Nate, and several others.
The series—presented as if it were a real documentary—depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In the episode, Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace (Andy Buckley) tasks Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) with finding a part-time replacement for Jim Halpert (John Krasinski); Dwight in turns enlists several of his close friends, including his cousin Mose (Schur). Meanwhile, Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer) tries to find out who her new desk mate will be.
The episode received mixed reviews from television critics, with many considering it superior to "Vandalism", particularly for the lessened presence of Brian. "Junior Salesman" was viewed by 4.45 million viewers and received a 2.1/5% rating among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. Although The Office, ranked third in its timeslot, it ranked as the highest-rated NBC series of the night.
Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace (Andy Buckley) has tasked Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) with finding a part-time replacement for Jim Halpert (John Krasinski). Clark (Clark Duke) feels he is ready for the position after 12 grueling weeks of work at Dunder-Mifflin, but Dwight makes it clear he doesn't want Clark to get the job. Instead, he brings in a bizarre gallery of his relatives and close friends, including his cousin Mose (Michael Schur), best friend Rolf, part-time private investigator Trevor, former Corporate executive Troy Underhill, his karate teacher ("The Fight") Sensei Ira, and a few others. Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer) and Jim are both concerned about Dwight's ideas, as Pam is worried about who will take over Jim's desk and Jim feels guilty that his work in Philadelphia will leave Pam at the mercy of Dwight's questionable judgment. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that none of Dwight's candidates are remotely qualified to be paper salesmen, and while Dwight dismisses Clark again after the kid aces his interview, he is too committed to making a good hire to actually give the job to someone like Mose or Rolf or Trevor.
Dwight does get a few cheap shots in at Jim's expense when Jim makes a phone call to Wallace that's a pitch for the CEO to invest in Athlead; Jim is forced to have the conversation on speaker phone, and gets double-punched when Wallace first says that Jim's salary is going to be cut to reflect his part-time status, and then bluntly shoots down the idea of putting any money towards Athlead. But Dwight is stuck between not being able to honestly hire any of his friends and being afraid they will hate him if he doesn't just pick one of them. He tries to get Jim to take over for him, and Jim refuses, but they agree to a plan where Jim will let everyone down easy by claiming he made the call to hire no one. Unfortunately, Dwight completely overplays his "anger" at Jim for not hiring them, and Rolf and everyone else immediately realize Dwight lied to them and wasted their time. They elect to play paintball without him, later sending a rude e-mail that says "Glad you're not here", and Dwight sadly notes that he lost all of his friends in just three hours. Clark does get the salesman job, but Pam briefly lifts Dwight's spirits by suggesting they "haze the new guy", though she makes Dwight stop that plan when he nearly suffocates Clark with shrink wrap. It is also hinted at that Brian, the boom mike operator for the documentary crew, has grown a crush on Pam.
"Junior Salesman" was written by executive story editor Carrie Kemper, who is the younger sister of cast member Ellie Kemper, making it her fourth writing credit for the series, following the ninth-season entry, "The Whale". The episode was directed by series editor David Rogers, marking his eighth directing credit for the series, following the ninth season entry, "Andy's Ancestry". The episode features guest appearances from Matt L. Jones as Dwight's cousin, Zeke. Jones had initially been cast for a proposed Office spin-off centered on Dwight titled "The Farm". A backdoor pilot was filmed, but upon review, the spin-off was not picked up by NBC. The episode also features the first time appearance of Eric Wareheim as Gabor and Will McCormack as Wolf. In addition to new guest stars, the episode saw the return of several minor characters, including Lance Krall as Sensei Ira, Chris Gethard as Trevor, Noel Petok as Troy Underbridge, Beth Grant as Dwight's babysitter, Melvina, and James Urbaniak as Rolf.
The press release for the episode included, "Erin tries to find her birth parents with Pete's help", although this plotline was completely absent from the episode. David Rogers, who is also an editor on the series, said that storyline was cut because "we had so much great comedy and needed the time for Dwight and his freaky friends and how Jim and the gang reacted". Rogers also commented since they shoot in a documentary style, they can shoot faster than regular single-camera comedies, meaning their first cut of the episodes can be 15–21 minutes longer than the 22-minute air length, and several scenes need to be cut.
Broadcast and reception
"Junior Salesman" originally aired on NBC on January 31, 2013, alongside the following episode, "Vandalism". The hour-long timeslot for The Office followed the one-hour series finale of 30 Rock. In its original American broadcast, "Junior Salesman" was viewed by 4.45 million viewers and received a 2.1 rating/5 percent share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, marking a slight rise in the ratings from the previous episode, "Customer Loyalty". This means that it was seen by 2.1 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 5 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. The Office ranked third in its timeslot, and was the highest-rated NBC series of the night, although the hour-long installment of 30 Rock received more viewers. 1.91 million viewers watched the episode through DVR playback, bringing the total viewership to 6.36 million.
The episode received mixed reviews from television critics. Michael Tedder of Vulture awarded the episode—along with "Vandalism"—four stars out of five. He called it one of the "one of the silliest episodes in recent memory", and complimented the break from the dramatic ending of "Customer Loyalty". He also complimented the maturation of Dwight throughout the episode, calling this episode a "mile-marker" for his character. He ultimately considered it superior to the proceeding episode, "Vandalism". IGN writer Roth Cornet called the Dwight plotline the "funniest and most disturbing moments of the night", but wrote that the episode didn't allow for much work to be given to the rest of the ensemble cast. Cornet also went on to criticize Brian's infatuation towards Pam and the potential "otherman" outcome for their storyline, stating that it would ultimately just be a "gimmick". She ultimately gave the episode a 7.5/10, calling it "Good". Bonnie Stiernberg of Paste, considered the episode to be a build-up to the "gut-punch" scene between Brian and Pam in "Vandalism", considering the only other important plot from the episode to be the Dwight-Jim one. Stiernberg considered the Dwight-Jim subplot to be "moderately funny", but "predictably bizarre". She ultimately gave the episode a seven out of ten, along with "Vandalism".
Brett Davinger of The California Literary Review called Brian's antics "creepy", particularly his smile at the end of the episode. Despite this, Davinger complimented the episode for focusing on one single plot. Nick Campbell of TV.com wrote that "Junior Salesman"—along with "Vandalism"—was "so much sharper than last week's trial in Dullsville". Campbell also complimented the return of Michael Schur as Mose and the performances of Matt L. Jones and Brian Baumgartner. Multiple critics considered the episode superior to "Vandalism", particularly due to their displeasure with the Brian-Pam storyline which was featured more prevalent in "Vandalism"
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