Todd Packer (The Office)
|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 7|
|Directed by||Randall Einhorn|
|Written by||Amelie Gillette|
|Original air date||February 24, 2011|
|Running time||22 minutes|
"Todd Packer" is the eighteenth episode of the seventh season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's 144th episode overall. It originally aired on NBC on February 24, 2011. The episode was written by Amelie Gillette and directed by Randall Einhorn.
The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In this episode, traveling salesman Todd Packer (David Koechner) comes to Dunder Mifflin looking for a desk job in the office. However, the office is unsure if they want him to work there due to his previous behavior. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) eventually team up and develop a scheme that rids the office of Packer. Meanwhile, after dealing with computer problems, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) confronts Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer) about getting a new computer.
The episode was the first entry in the series to be written by Gillette, who had written for the online entertainment newspaper and website The A.V. Club. The episode received mixed reviews from critics; while many did not enjoy the character of Todd Packer, others praised the temporary alliance between Jim and Dwight. "Todd Packer" was viewed by 6.121 million viewers and received a 3.2 rating among adults between the age of 18 and 49, making it the season's lowest-rated episode. Despite this, the episode was the highest-rated NBC series of the week that it aired.
Traveling salesman Todd Packer (David Koechner) comes to Dunder Mifflin looking for a desk job in the office. However, most of the office does not want him to work there due to his previous behavior, and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) in particular is horrified at the idea. Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) gives him a job as a salesman, forcing Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) to leave his desk and move to the annex. Todd repeatedly offends everybody with his jokes, especially Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), although Kevin pretends to play along. Only Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Packer's longtime friend, is not offended by Todd. Holly, who was at first excited to have Todd in the office per Michael's recommendations, discovers how insensitive Todd is and asks Michael to get him under control. Michael and Todd have coffee in the lobby, where Todd says he wants to be a better person. Michael gets Todd to apologize, but everyone can tell that the apologies are insincere. Dwight and Jim scheme to get rid of Todd. They call him, pretending to be corporate offering him a job in Tallahassee, Florida, a job which Todd readily accepts. Michael overhears the call and goes to tell Todd that Dwight and Jim have tricked him. Before he has a chance, however, Todd insults Holly, and Michael decides to keep Dwight and Jim's scheme a secret and allow Todd to take the "job" in Florida. As Michael and Holly witness Todd drive away from the view in his office, Michael admits that Packer is "an ass" before they embrace.
Meanwhile, when office administrator Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer) gets a new computer for the receptionist's desk to replace the older model, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) wants a new computer, too. Pam points out that if she were to get a new computer for one sales rep, she would have to get one for every sales rep. Unwilling to let it go, Andy convinces Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) into trading computers with him. Pam is angry when she finds out, and forces him to switch the computers back. In addition to continue pushing for a new computer, Andy confronts Pam about humiliating him in front of the office. In order to make it up to him, she tells him that the only way he can get a new computer is if his breaks. To accomplish this, he accepts all cookies, intentionally opens pop-up ads, and places food in the disc drive. Pam then buys Andy a new computer, but they scratch it up to make it not look brand new. When they pretend to argue about it in front of the office, Pam claims that she found it in the warehouse. Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson) confronts Pam later regarding finding the computer in the warehouse. As he knows everything that is in the warehouse and where it is stored, he leverages Pam into giving him more sick days. Pam gleefully tells the interviewers that she is now "full-on corrupt".
This episode was written by Amelie Gillette, her first writing credit of the series. She was a writer for The A.V. Club before being hired for The Office. The episode was directed by longtime series director Randall Einhorn, and was his second credit for the season after "The Sting". The cold open, which featured Jim and Dwight arguing about canned foods, was actually filmed for the previous season and is featured in the blooper reel on the sixth season DVD and Blu-ray sets.
The Season Seven DVD contains a number of deleted scenes from this episode. The cut scenes include a sequence of Erin being excited after receiving her new computer, Michael expressing his desire for Holly and Packer to become friends, Packer telling Holly that Scranton is his hometown, Kevin hinting that he would like some of Dwight's leftover pizza, Andy telling Pam about his high school "backseat" adventures, Michael and Holly arguing about Packer, and Jim trying to not let Dwight move back into his old desk.
Packer pretends to mistake Holly for actress Jennifer Aniston. Dwight angrily throws out Holly's miniature zen gardens and remarks, "What do you grow in this, bullcrap?" Packer calls Kevin, Holly, and Dwight, the "three muske-queers", a homophobic slur referencing the 1844 novel The Three Musketeers. Dwight notes that, had Kevin grown up in sumo culture, he would be considered a "promising up-and-comer". Holly makes a list of humorous individuals, ranging from most humorous to least: "Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, 'Charlie Bit My Finger,' Michael Scott […] Todd Packer". When asked if he would like hot chocolate, Packer notes that the only "hot chocolate" he likes is Vivica A. Fox. Jim mentions Justin Bieber, and Dwight says "Who is Justice Beaver?" This leads Jim to say sardonically, "A crime-fighting beaver". Following the episode's air date, the term "Justice Beaver" became a popular trend on Twitter, and led to a website in honor of the quote. When prank-calling Packer, Dwight continuously makes references to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.
In its original American broadcast, "Todd Packer" was viewed by an estimated 6.121 million viewers and received a 3.2 rating/9% share. This means that it was seen by 3.2% of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 9% of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. This marked the lowest number of viewers for the series since the second season episode "Boys and Girls", which was viewed by 5.42 million viewers, as well as the lowest Nielsen rating for the series since the first season. Despite this, the episode became the highest-rated NBC program for the original week it aired and also became the sixteenth most-watched show for the week of broadcast among adults aged 18–49.
Myles McNutt of The A.V. Club, Gillette's former employer, awarded the episode a "B–" and noted that he did not like Todd Packer, nor the episodes where his character is intentionally supposed to be vile. He did, however, enjoy the fact that Packer's antics caused Jim and Dwight to unite in the face of a common enemy, a plot that McNutt said "had a scrappy feel to it". McNutt also called Kevin being "slowly broken by Packer's cruelty" an effective way to show how terrible Packer was to the morale of the office. He was, however, more critical about the fact that Holly seemed unaware that "Michael may not be the best judge of whether or not someone is funny". At the end of his review, McNutt reminded readers that The A.V. Club specifically selected him as their new reviewer for the show because he did not know Gillette, thus avoiding a conflict of interest.
IGN writer Cindy White enjoyed the episode, but criticized the ending for being too similar to a scene from the original British version of The Office in which David Brent tells traveling salesman Chris Finch to "fuck off". Despite this, she spoke highly of Jim and Dwight's storyline, writing that "I wish their final ruse had been a bit more original, but it served the purpose of getting rid of Packer". She ultimately gave the episode a 7.5 out of 10 rating, denoting a "good" episode.
Matt Richenthal of TV Fanatic awarded the episode four out of five stars and praised it for its temporary teaming up of Jim and Dwight. Alan Sepinwall was critical of the episode; although he enjoyed the continued exploration of Michael's maturation, but felt that, because Packer was so infrequently seen on the show, he was stuck as "the American version of Finchy" from the original British series, and as such, did not fit into the show's dynamics. Sepinwall was further critical of the main story, calling it "flat and uncomfortable". However, he enjoyed the later part of Pam and Andy's storyline, as well as Jim and Dwight teaming up to beat Packer.
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