The Seminar

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"The Seminar"
The Office episode
Episode no. Season 7
Episode 14
Directed by B. J. Novak
Written by Steve Hely
Production code 714
Original air date January 27, 2011[1]
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Ultimatum"
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"The Search"
List of The Office (U.S.) episodes

"The Seminar" is the fourteenth episode of seventh season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's 140th episode overall. Written by Steve Hely and directed by B. J. Novak, the episode aired January 27, 2011 on NBC.

In the episode, Andy holds a small business seminar in the office. He asks Kevin, Creed and Kelly to help him while Michael and Holly embrace the opportunity to improv. Meanwhile, Oscar and Pam help Erin in a Scrabble battle against Gabe.

Synopsis[edit]

The episode begins with Michael bumping into David Brent (Ricky Gervais) (the star of the British predecessor show) outside an elevator. After realizing David is English, Michael tells him about a character he came up with and they immediately begin to tell each other racist jokes about British and Chinese people. When David points out the politically incorrect nature of their joking, Michael corrects him saying it's just comedy and David agrees, saying "Comedy is a place where the mind goes to tickle itself", then adding Michael's favorite catch phrase "That's what she said." Michael then gives David a hug, and David asks if Dunder Mifflin is hiring. Michael says "not right now" and David asks him to drop a line if they do have any openings.

In order to improve his worst-in-office sales totals Andy decides to hold a seminar on starting a small business. He originally enlists Jim to be one of the guest speakers, but Jim abruptly pulls out when he see one of the audience members and quickly leaves. Seeing Jim leave, the other speakers (Dwight, Phyllis and Stanley) also pull out leaving Andy to replace them with Kevin, Creed and Ryan. Kevin's speech goes bad when he gets ill from running around the room and vomits in front of the audience. Kelly, who replaces Ryan, makes things slightly better when she calls up an old professor from her management training time at Yale (whom she may have slept with) to talk business lessons, but Creed ruins it when he goes into a speech about the Loch Ness Monster.

Meanwhile, Erin is trying to beat Gabe in a game of Scrabble. Unfortunately, she's not very good, and the winner of their Scrabble games always picks the movie they watch. Since Gabe has already subjected her to numerous horror movies such as The Shining and The Ring, Erin desperately needs a win. With the help of Oscar and Pam, she almost beats Gabe but loses on the last turn, because she doesn't realize Oscar is trying to feed her a winning word ("apoplexy") and instead puts in the word "ape".

After Jim spends all day outside of the office, Pam forces him to tell the camera crew why he's avoiding the guy. He and the man were childhood friends who were placed in separate reading groups in school (Jim was in the superior one). After his mom told him to hang out with his "smart" friends, Jim told his friend that "mom thinks you're too dumb to hang out with." Jim eventually bumps into the guy in the break room, and tries to laugh off their history, but the guy mocks Jim for not being as successful as his superior intellect would have indicated, and snarks "Where's your jet pack, Zuckerberg?"

Back at Andy's seminar, Dwight talks to one of the attendees, a man who owns a golf supply business, and realizes that this could actually be a good opportunity for the sales team. He, along with Phyllis and Stanley, try to rejoin Andy, who refuses at Darryl's intervening. At the end of the seminar, Andy is able to sell three packages, thanks to the advice of Michael, who has taken a Greek persona of "Mykonos" in order to impress Holly, who has broken up with AJ. With Holly playing his wife "Necropolis", Michael professes his love to her (in character). She amusedly walks away but Michael is hopeful.

At then end of the day, Gabe shows Erin the movie they'll be watching that night, Hardware, which involves a killer robot (calling it a compromise because Erin wanted to watch WALL-E). As he is leaving, a confident Andy, who is still trying to win Erin back, hands her a copy of Shrek 2, leaving Erin visibly pleased.

Production[edit]

The episode was written by producer Steve Hely, the first episode he has written for The Office since joining the writing staff in season seven. It was directed by co-executive producer B. J. Novak, the second episode he has directed for the series; he also portrays Ryan Howard on the show.[1] The episode features the first guest appearance of The Office co-creator Ricky Gervais which was revealed on January 19, 2011, that Gervais would reprise his role as David Brent from the original British series in a cameo appearance.[2] The scene was shot months previously, and NBC hoped to keep it a secret, but the news eventually leaked.[2] Gervais appeared in the cold open in the episode, interacting with Michael Scott.[3] He eventually reappeared in the seventh season finale, "Search Committee".[4]

The official website for The Office included four cut scenes from "The Seminar" within a week of its release. In the first 41-second clip, Stanley reveals his selling technique while Andy reveals why he can't close sales.[5] In the second 56-second clip, Michael gives more answers to Holly on his Greek character.[6] In the third 39-second clip, Creed reveals that the idea of Chuck E. Cheese's was supposedly taken from him.[7] In the fourth 108-second clip, Dwight, Stanley and Phyllis try to convince Michael to make Andy let them close the seminar.[8]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

In its original American broadcast on January 27, 2011, "The Seminar" was viewed by an estimated 7.93 million viewers and received a 4.0 rating/11% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49 according to the Nielsen Media Research.[9] This means that it was seen by 4.0% of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 11% of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. It marked an eleven percent decrease from the previous episode, Ultimatum.[9][10] The episode ranked first in its timeslot beating the Fox series Bones with received a 3.9 rating/10% share in the 18–49 demographic, a rerun of the CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation which received a 2.1 rating/6% share, a rerun of the ABC medical drama, Grey's Anatomy which received 1.5 rating/4% share and Nikita which received a 1.1 rating/3% share.[9]

Reviews[edit]

The episode received mostly positive reviews from critics. HitFix writer Alan Sepinwall said the episode was "uneven but often funny, and a nice showcase for the supporting cast."[11] James Poniewozik of Time praised the cold opening with Ricky Gervais, writing, "In barely over a minute, it showed us the commonalities between the two characters: how they've each created a world in which they are "performers" whose cutting-edge comedy is often unappreciated[...]is just masterly".[12] Despite this, "The Seminar" was voted the second lowest-rated episode out of 24 from the seventh season, according to an episode poll at the fansite OfficeTally.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Office: The Seminar". OfficeTally. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b Hibberd, James (January 19, 2011). "Ricky Gervais to reprise David Brent role on NBC's 'The Office'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Ricky Gervais And Steve Carell Together At Last On 'The Office' (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Office: Search Committee, 7.25-7.26". OfficeTally. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Office - The Seminar - Clip One - Video". NBC.com. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  6. ^ "The Office - The Seminar - Clip Two - Video". NBC.com. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  7. ^ "The Office - The Seminar - Clip Three - Video". NBC.com. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  8. ^ "The Office - The Seminar - Clip Four - Video". NBC.com. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  9. ^ a b c Seidman, Robert (January 28, 2011). "Thursday Final Ratings: 'American Idol' Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ Gorman, Bill (January 21, 2011). "TV Ratings Thursday: NBC Comedy Night Begins Well, Idol's Thursday Start Falls, CBS Down Across the Board". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (January 28, 2011). "The Office - The Seminar: Oceans apart". HitFix. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  12. ^ Poniewozik, James (January 28, 2011). "Office Watch: Kirk Meets Picard". TIME. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Survivor Poll: Season 7". OfficeTally. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 

External links[edit]