Business School (The Office)
|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Brent Forrester|
|Original air date||February 15, 2007|
"Business School" is the seventeenth episode of the third season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's forty-fifth episode overall. Written by Brent Forrester, and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon, the episode aired on NBC on February 15, 2007.
In the episode, Michael is invited by Ryan to speak to his business school class. When many of the students question the usefulness of paper in a computerized world, Michael attempts to inform the class of how essential paper is. Meanwhile, a bat becomes trapped in the office, leading Dwight on a mission to protect the employees.
Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak) invites Michael Scott (Steve Carell) to speak at his business school class. Michael is excited, but Ryan admits in a talking head interview that he has only invited Michael because his professor promised to bump up the grade of any student who brings his boss into class. During his introduction of Michael, Ryan predicts that Dunder Mifflin will become obsolete within five to ten years. However, Michael could not hear him and proceeds to ruin the event with his antics (including tearing pages out of a student's textbook to prove you "can't learn from textbooks"). One of Ryan's classmates asks for Michael's opinion of Ryan's prediction. Infuriated and hurt, Michael punishes Ryan by relocating his desk to the "annex," where Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) works. Kelly babbles uncontrollably in excitement at the news.
Meanwhile, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) discovers a bat in the ceiling. It flies through the office, sending the employees scurrying for cover. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Karen Filippelli exploit Dwight's paranoia, and pretend that Jim was bitten by the bat and is turning into a vampire. Jim calls animal control, but Dwight insists on catching the bat himself even after 5:00 passes and the other employees go home, save Meredith who continues to hide in the breakroom for fear of the bat. Dwight eventually catches the bat with a garbage bag after it lands on Meredith's head.
Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), in the meantime, invites her co-workers to her art show after work. At the show, Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) and his partner Gil critique her art, with Gil dismissing it as "motel art", not realizing that she is standing right behind them. None of her other co-workers show, leaving her feeling alienated and sad. Roy comes by and compliments her work, but obviously does so as a "boyfriend's gesture" with no sincere appreciation for art. The general attendees show little interest in her drawings, and she begins to doubt her abilities. As she begins to take her work down, Michael arrives, having been delayed by the trip back to the office to move Ryan's things. He expresses sincere awe for her work and asks to buy her drawing of the office building. Pam embraces him as her eyes tear up. Michael hangs Pam's drawing on the wall next to his office.
"Business School" was the second Office episode written by Brent Forrester. Forrester had previously written "The Merger". The episode was the first to be directed by Joss Whedon. Whedon, who is a friend of both producer Greg Daniels and Jenna Fischer, and also met most of the production staff prior to the episode, stated that he chose to direct the episode "because I already know the writing staff and a bunch of the cast, and I adore the show." When informed that the episode was about a bat entering into the office and one of the characters pretending to be a vampire, Whedon thought that it was a joke, stating "Didn't I just leave this party?" in reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In an interview featured on the third season DVD, Whedon joked that the "Business School" episode and his former TV show were very similar because "Buffy [...] was sad and depressing but... it was funny. Especially when people died. And a lot of people do die in ['Business School']." But upon completing the episode, Whedon stated "That was just coincidence. But that's how that happened. God, it was fun." Whedon stated that he was surprised with the amount of input he was allowed with the script. "I wouldn't say freedom to do things with it...But way more input was asked for than I would have ever anticipated." At Pam's art show, the pieces which she was supposed to have painted didn't suit Whedon. "I got to the set and saw Pam's art, and I was like, 'This is not right.'" Whedon said that he held up filming for over an hour until the staff was able create new pieces of art.
For the scenes which involved filming with a bat, the production team used an actual bat, an animated bat, and a mechanical bat. When around the actual bat, Kate Flannery, who portrays Meredith Palmer, stated that "we had to be extremely quiet around [it], basically pretending to scream." California State University, Northridge served as the backdrop for Ryan's business school and the art show.
The episode received generally good reviews from critics. Brian Zoromski, of IGN, stated that "'Business School' was an exercise in what works best in an Office episode." Zoromski also praised Joss Whedon's directorial debut for the show, stating that "Whedon's direction and sense of humor was both excellently put to use and alluded to in the scenes in which Jim hilariously pretended to become a vampire." Zoromski went on to say that the acting of John Krasinski and Rashida Jones, who portrays Karen Filippelli, helped to make the vampire scenes the funniest parts of the episode. He gave the episode a 9.1 out of 10. Abby West, of Entertainment Weekly, stated that "This show has always been able to turn on a dime and take the comedy to a soul-stirring dramatic climax with just the lightest of touches, and last night was no different." West went on to praise Michael and Pam's scene at the art show as one of these moments.
- "NBC Primetime Schedule for Sunday, Feb 11 2007 – Saturday, Feb 17 2007" (Press release). NBC. 2007-01-26.
- Interview with Joss Whedon Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. The A.V. Club, retrieved June 24, 2008
- Whedon, Joss. "Joss Whedon Interview" (DVD).
- More on Kate and the bat OfficeTally, retrieved June 24, 2008
- CSUN Licensing – Facilities Use California State University Northridge, retrieved June 24, 2008
- The Office: "Business School" Review IGN, retrieved June 24, 2008
- Gone Batty Entertainment Weekly, retrieved June 24, 2008