|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||B. J. Novak|
|Written by||Steve Hely|
|Original air date||January 27, 2011|
"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.
The episode begins with Michael Scott (Steve Carell) bumping into David Brent (Ricky Gervais) outside an elevator. After they exchange several ethnic jokes, 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 Bernard (Ed Helms) holds a seminar on starting a small business. He enlists Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) to be one of the guest speakers, but Jim abruptly pulls out when he sees one of the audience members. The other speakers—Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), Phyllis Vance (Phyllis Smith), and Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker)—lose faith in Andy's plan and also pull out, leaving Andy to replace them with Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) and Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak). Kevin's speech goes bad when he gets ill from running around the room and vomits in front of the audience. Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling), who replaces Ryan, calls up an old professor from her management training time at Yale to talk business lessons. Creed delivers a bizarre speech about the Loch Ness Monster.
Meanwhile, Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) is battling Gabe Lewis (Zach Woods) in a game of Scrabble. The winner of their Scrabble games always picks the movie they watch, and since Erin is poor at the game, Gabe has already subjected her to numerous horror movies such as The Shining and The Ring. With the help of Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) and Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer), she almost beats Gabe but loses on the last turn, because she does not 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 is 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 the kids in his own reading group, Jim told his friend that "my mom thinks you're too dumb to hang out with." Jim 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 advice. 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 Flax (Amy Ryan), who is now single. With Holly playing his wife "Necropolis", Michael professes his love to her (in character). She becomes uncomfortable at this and walks away but Michael is hopeful.
At the end of the day, Gabe shows Erin the movie they will 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, Andy casually loans Erin a copy of Shrek 2, saying he thinks she would like it. A deflated Gabe realizes that Erin is far more excited about the movie Andy recommended her than the one he picked out.
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. 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. The scene was shot months previously, and NBC hoped to keep it a secret, but the news eventually leaked. Gervais appeared in the cold open in the episode, interacting with Michael Scott. He eventually reappeared in the seventh season finale, "Search Committee".
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. In the second 56-second clip, Michael gives more answers to Holly on his Greek character. In the third 39-second clip, Creed reveals that the idea of Chuck E. Cheese's was supposedly taken from him. In the fourth 108-second clip, Dwight, Stanley and Phyllis try to convince Michael to make Andy let them close the seminar.
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. 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. 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.
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." 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". 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.
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