|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||B. J. Novak|
|Written by||Gene Stupnitsky
|Original air date||December 3, 2009|
|Running time||22 minutes|
"Scott's Tots" is the twelfth episode of the sixth season of the U.S. comedy series The Office and the show's 112th episode overall. It was written by Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg and directed by B. J. Novak, marking his directorial debut on the network series. It aired in the United States on NBC on December 3, 2009. Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg submitted this episode for the 2010 Emmys.
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, Michael Scott and Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) meet "Scott's Tots", a group of local teenagers whose college tuition was promised in one of Michael's grand delusions ten years prior. Meanwhile, in Michael's absence, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) convinces Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) to start an employee-of-the-month program with the intention of sabotaging Jim.
Michael Scott (Steve Carell) realizes he cannot keep a promise he made to a group of underprivileged children 10 years ago; he promised that he would pay for their college tuition provided they graduated from high school. With no other option, he visits their high school with Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) to break the bad news. Over the years, the students have pushed to graduate because of his promise, and greet Michael with standing applause. They all take turns giving their thanks to Michael, as do several school and community leaders. When Michael takes the stand, he congratulates everyone for being able to graduate from high school, before admitting that he does not have the money to pay them. Everyone is upset, but Michael then tries to calm them by giving them laptop batteries.
When Michael and Erin leave, one of the students comes out to talk to Michael. Michael admits he has made many promises he could not keep, but gives the student four checks to pay for his books each year when he does get into college and tells him not to cash them until he calls about it first. In the car on the way back to the office, Michael continues to lament his promises, but Erin comforts him when she points out that this group of students have a much higher graduation rate, and that, at the very least, will help them significantly. Michael tells Erin she is doing a good job, and the two drive back home singing.
Meanwhile, on a suggestion from Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) starts an employee of the month program to increase office morale. Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) however, schemes to get Jim fired. Dwight gives Jim a performance sheet to determine the employee of the month, using complete anonymity to ensure a fair and unbiased assessment. Dwight also collects money from each of the employees as part of a cash prize, even though Jim specifically did not authorize this. At the conclusion of the day, Jim announces the employee of the month, and it is revealed that he apparently picked himself by accident. Everyone starts blaming Jim for using this gimmick as a ploy to take money away from the office. Jim tries to pin part of the failure on Dwight, but since he has taken numerous precautions to protect himself from direct blame, he passively fires back. Jim decides to forgo the award and give it to the next best employee, but things are only made worse when that person is revealed to be his wife Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer). Everyone reaches their breaking point when a cake is delivered to the office with Jim's face on it.
With the primary part of his plan a success, having manipulated the assessment and ordered the cake, Dwight sneaks away to the warehouse to initialize the second part of his plan. He calls CFO David Wallace (Andy Buckley) multiple times, each time pretending to be a different employee, and leaves messages complaining about Jim's failed program. An angry David calls Jim back and chews him out for the mishap. Almost assured that this will get Jim fired, Dwight listens in to the phone conversation from his pen recorder. But instead of firing Jim, David apologizes to him for losing his temper. Angry that his plan has done very little to nothing, Dwight gets upset and goes back to the drawing board. At the end of the episode, Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak) confronts Dwight on his desire to get Jim fired by showing him a copy of his "Diabolical Plan" document. The two form an alliance.
"Scott's Tots" first aired on NBC on November 3, 2009. In its original American broadcast, the episode was viewed by an estimated 8.055 million viewers and received a 4.2 rating/10 percent share in the 18–49 demographic. This means that it was seen by 4.1 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 11 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. In addition, the episode ranked first in its half-hour timeslot and was the highest-rated NBC series of the night.
Dan Phillips of IGN gave the episode a 9.4 out of 10 rating, denoting an "amazing" episode. It was also the highest score given to any sixth season episode by the site. Phillips called the episode "an instant classic and another phenomenal installment of this season, which hit some rough patches but seems to have recovered brilliantly", especially pointing out the scene between Michael and the irate students. Phillips felt that the main scene between Michael and the children was pivotal and that it "might just rank atop The Office's long list and rich history of uncomfortable yet hilarious moments".
Joel Keller of the Huffington Post wrote that "as the kids from that third-grade class praised Michael and told him how much his gift meant to them, all I could think of was, 'this is so wrong.' [...] The pain on Michael's face was palpable. I had the same expression." He, however, was more critical of the episode's subplot, noting that "getting tired of Dwight's diabolical plans". He felt that Jim should have caught onto Dwight's plan, rather than fall for it. Keller ultimately concluded that the episode was "a solid job this week. Not the best of the season, but not bad, either."
Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club called the episode "kick-ass" and awarded it an "A–". Rabin commended the fact that Michael's bad-idea-for-the-right-reason made him likable. Furthermore, he noted that both Michael and the kids engaged in "mutually beneficial self-deception"; the former thought he could save those in need, and the latter had something to look forward to. Rabin also enjoyed the subplot involving Jim and Dwight, noting that it "afforded [actor Rainn Wilson] an opportunity to do surprisingly accurate, unconscionably mean impersonations of Stanley and Toby".
Several critics, on the other hand, felt that the main plot was too mean to be humorous. Gage Henry of Paste felt that the episode was weak because "one [of its storylines was] rather flimsy and the other ending up too atrocious to watch." He noted that the formula of "Jim tries to conduct one normal day at the office while Michael is out making an ass of himself somewhere" was "becoming bland". Ultimately, however, he could not decide if the episode "was commendably funny, or if it was as humorous as a child realizing that Santa Claus doesn’t exist." Henry graded the episode a 6 out of 10. Steve Marsi at TVFanatic did not enjoy it and was succinct in his review: "Last night's "Scott's Tots" was not one of The Office's best. [...] it was actually a little depressing. Promising kids college tuition, then yanking it away?"
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- Gorman, Bill (December 4, 2009). "TV Ratings Thursday: Flash Forward Crashes; Fringe Surges". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- Phillips, Dan (December 4, 2009). "The Office: "Scott's Tots" Review – Michael Scott Crushes the Dreams of Under-Privileged Teens". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- Keller, Joe (December 3, 2009). "Review: The Office – Scott's Tots". The Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- Rabin, Nathan (December 3, 2009). 'Scott's Tots' | The Office | TV Club. The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- Henry, Gage (December 4, 2009). "The Office Review: 'Scott's Tots' (Episode 6.12). Paste. Wolfgang's Vault. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- Marsi, Steve (December 4, 2009). "The Office Review: 'Scott's Tots' . TV Fanatic. Retrieved November 24, 2012.