|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Matt Sohn|
|Written by||Allison Silverman|
|Original air date||November 10, 2011|
"Pam's Replacement" is the seventh episode of the eighth season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's 159th episode overall. The episode aired on NBC in the United States on November 10, 2011. It was written by Allison Silverman and was directed by Matt Sohn. The episode guest stars Lindsey Broad and Steve Moore.
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, Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer) trains an attractive temporary worker to take her place while she is on maternity leave, and enlists Dwight Schrute's (Rainn Wilson) support when she tries to show that Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) finds her replacement attractive. Meanwhile, Robert California (James Spader) surprises Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), and Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson) when he requests to join their band.
"Pam's Replacement" relates to Pam's pregnancy; Fischer was actually pregnant and her pregnancy was written into the series with Pam and Jim having their second baby. The episode received mixed reviews from critics. According to Nielsen Media Research, the episode received 5.96 million viewers and received a 3.0 rating/7% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49 marking a slight drop in the ratings from the previous episode, "Doomsday".
In the cold open, Andy (Ed Helms) tries to impress a potential client by pretending to turn down an "important phone call," when in fact it is really a made-up ruse being aided by Erin (Ellie Kemper). However, Erin describes the fake phone call in depth with the "death" of Andy's mother, prompting the potential client to urge Andy to take the call, helped along with concern from a knowing Dwight (Rainn Wilson). After pretending to talk to the "police" on the phone—actually Darryl (Craig Robinson), who is reluctantly part of the ruse—a humiliated and embarrassed Andy tells Erin to leave the room and "hold all other calls".
Pam (Jenna Fischer) trains an attractive temporary worker Cathy Simms (Lindsey Broad) so that she can take her place when she goes on maternity leave. Pam asks her husband, Jim (John Krasinski) if he finds the new temp attractive. Jim, not wanting to upset his pregnant wife, tells her that he does not find her replacement attractive at all. However, Pam is convinced that Jim is lying to her (even after re-assurance from the rest of the staff), and she enlists the help of the harshly honest Dwight to prove that Jim finds the new temp attractive. After a battery of tests (including an embarrassing show of Dwight reaching for Jim's crotch to search for an erection), Dwight and Pam convince Jim to go get his blood pressure checked, as a means of a lie-detector test. As Dwight's homemade lie-detector test fails, Pam realizes that Jim has unusually high blood pressure, which his father also suffers from, and forgets about the issue in order to focus on her husband's health.
Meanwhile, CEO Robert California (James Spader) surprises Andy, Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), and Darryl when he asks to join their band after he finds them having a jam session in the warehouse. Soon thereafter, California's friends, skilled musicians themselves, arrive and take over the original band. Andy, Kevin and Darryl, with the help of warehouse worker Val, realize that they were ousted, and after a failed attempt to try getting their original band roles back, they instead satisfyingly jam outside by themselves.
The episode was written by consulting producer Allison Silverman, her first writing credit for the series after joining the writing staff in the eighth season. It was directed by Matt Sohn, one of the series' cinematographers and camera operators, his third directing credit for the series. The episode features a guest appearance from Lindsey Broad, and her character was described as "Pam’s competent and likable pal, Kathy". She appeared in a recurring role in the eighth season. The episode also relates to Pam's pregnancy. Jenna Fischer was actually pregnant and her pregnancy was written into the series with Pam and Jim having their second baby. The man who played Robert's skilled drummer friend is Steve Moore, better known as "The Mad Drummer" for a viral video he was featured in.
In its original American broadcast, "Pam's Replacement" was viewed by an estimated 5.96 million viewers and received a 3.0 rating/7% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 3.0% of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 7% of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. This marked a two-tenths decrease in the ratings from the previous episode, "Doomsday". Despite this, however, the episode ranked second in its timeslot, beating Bones which received a 2.7 rating/7% share in the 18–49 demographic and Person of Interest which received a 2.0 rating/2% share, although both the latter two shows had more viewers. "Pam's Replacement" was defeated by Grey's Anatomy which received a 4.0 rating/10% share. Added with DVR viewers, who viewed the episode within seven days of the original broadcast, the episode received a 4.4 rating in the 18–49 demographic, adding a 1.4 rating to the original viewership. A repeat of the episode on January 5, 2012 drew 1.85 million and received a 0.7 rating/2% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, ranking third and last in its time slot.
"Pam's Replacement" received generally mixed reviews from critics. HitFix writer Alan Sepinwall complimented the episode for staying true to the characters compared to the rest of the season, which he had criticized in an earlier review. He ultimately called the episode a "significant step up" despite the fact that the episode was just "decent". The A.V. Club reviewer Myles McNutt criticized Andy–Kevin–Darryl subplot for its lack of continuity. He was also critical of the main Pam–Dwight plot for not staying true to the characters, and he suggested that the writers needed to write the show as less as "a bland copy of itself". He ultimately called it one of the laziest half-hours of the show and gave it a C−. Cindy White of IGN said that the episode needed a stronger A-plot writing that the plots "felt like a meal made up of two tasty side dishes". She ultimately gave it a 7.0/10. Hanna Lawrence of Hollywood.com praised the episode for being believable and for showing things that happen in real life. She also praised the Jim–Pam plot for showcasing the couple as not completely "perfect". Despite the praise for the main plot, she called the band subplot "weak" so she did not review that part of the episode.
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