|The Office episode|
|Directed by||Bryan Cranston|
|Written by||Brent Forrester|
|Original air date||October 18, 2012|
|Running time||22 minutes|
"Work Bus" is the fourth episode of the ninth season of the American comedy television series The Office and the show's 180th episode overall. The episode originally aired on NBC on October 18, 2012. The episode was written by Brent Forrester and was directed by Bryan Cranston.
The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In the episode, Jim (John Krasinski) convinces Dwight (Rainn Wilson) that the building is unsafe, leading to Dwight renting a bus and setting up the office inside. Meanwhile, Nellie (Catherine Tate) asks for Andy's (Ed Helms) help in adopting a baby. Jim tries to make Pam (Jenna Fischer) happy with some pie.
"Work Bus" received mostly positive reviews from television critics. Many praised the episode's humor and the dynamic between Jim and Pam, and Jim and Dwight. Despite this, Andy's characterization throughout the episode was mainly criticized. "Work Bus" was viewed by 4.28 million viewers and received a 2.1/6 percent rating among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, ranking third in its timeslot. The Office also ranked as the highest-rated NBC series of the night.
When Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) is irritated that Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) will not fulfill his landlord responsibilities and fix the dangerously substandard office wiring, he comes up with a plan to pretend that magnetic power is affecting the office and thus get the repairs as well as a week off from work for his wife Pam (Jenna Fischer) (whom he is trying to be extra nice to in the wake of not telling her about his new job plans). Dwight calls Jim's bluff and rents an overcrowded bus for the staff to work on, but Jim harnesses the office workers' love of a local pie stand to please Pam. Dwight eventually gets angry and climbs into the roof of the bus, refusing to drive any further. Pam suspects something else is wrong and asks Jim to talk to him. Jim learns that Dwight thought his magnetic power prank was real as he suspects he is infertile, which he has convinced himself explains why he was not the father of Angela Martin's (Angela Kinsey) baby. Jim tells Dwight he is like a father to the entire office, and Dwight then drives everyone to the pie stand where they have a great finish to their day.
Meanwhile, Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) asks for Andy Bernard's (Ed Helms) help in adopting a baby, as the local adoption agency requires a reference letter from an employer. Andy promises to read her application letter, but tells the camera crew he will only sign it if she admits that she is a horrible person in it. However, Andy is unaware that Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) is using her own painful past as a non-adopted orphan to help Nellie with the process. When Andy coldly rejects Nellie's letter (which Erin helped her write), Nellie accepts his decision, but Andy is stunned to hear Erin crying sadly over the failure. He finally adds some mildly snarky but complimentary lines to her letter and signs onto it as a reference, leaving Nellie overjoyed.
"Work Bus" was written by executive producer Brent Forrester, marking his tenth writing credit for the series, his first since the seventh-season episode "The Search". Forrester had previously been named executive producer of the series, before the start of the season. The episode was also directed by Bryan Cranston, the star of the AMC drama series, Breaking Bad. It was initially announced he was going to guest-direct an episode by cast member Rainn Wilson, via Twitter. Cranston had previously directed episodes from other comedy series, including Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family. Entertainment Weekly later confirmed the episode title and its airdate.
The official website of The Office included three cut scenes from "Work Bus" within a week of the episode's release. In the 43-second clip, Pete and Erin indulge in a little unlawful fantasy. In the second 104-second clip, the office continues their "Shabooya Roll Call", with Phylis, Oscar, Dwight (reluctantly) and Andy participating, while Angela criticizes their game. In the final 67-second clip, Clark helps Darryl out with Power Point.
The cold opening for the episode features Andy showing the office various sports bloopers that he edited to make look funnier than they actually are, a reference to the popular "Fail" internet memes. Dwight notes that he is fine living in an EMF field, because most of his super-hero idols got their powers from massive amounts of electricity. Andy, by Nellie's own admission, thinks that she should "go back to Loch Ness", a reference to the mythical Loch Ness monster.
Broadcast and reception
"Work Bus" originally aired on NBC on October 18, 2012. The episode was viewed by 4.28 million viewers and received a 2.1 rating/6% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 2.1 percent of all 18 to 49-year-olds, and 6 percent of all 18 to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. This marks a slight decrease in the ratings when compared to the previous episode, "Andy's Ancestry". The Office finished third in its time slot, being beaten by an episode of the ABC series Grey's Anatomy which received a 3.4/9 percent rating and an entry of the CBS drama Person of Interest, which received a 2.8/7 percent rating Despite this, The Office was the highest-rated NBC television program of the night.
"Work Bus" received mostly positive reviews from critics. The A.V. Club reviewer Erik Adams considered "Work Bus" to be the funniest episode of the series since the seventh season. He noted that while the episode had a slow start, "the script ... doesn't get moving until the bus gets moving" and comended the writers for using the ensemble cast to reach a "height of funniness" and compared the "mob mentality" of the cast to The Simpsons. He ultimately awarded the episode a B+. IGN writer Cindy White called the episode a "pretty good example of how to do an out-of-the-office episode right", considering it to be superior to other out-of-office episodes, including "Christening" and "Gettysburg". She also complimented the characterization of the characters, specifically Jim, Pam and Dwight, and their relationships with each other. Despite this, she criticized the "aforementioned characterization of Andy" as well as the cold open, for making Andy too similar to Michael and later on commented that his new "douche-bagery" spoiled the episode for her. She ultimately gave the episode a 7.8/10, concluding that it was a "good" episode. Michael Tedder of New York gave a positive review and praised the scene featuring Jim and Dwight on the roof of the bus, and praised their dynamic for maturing over the years. Tedder also complimented Cranston's direction in the episode, commenting that the "cramped quality of 'Work Bus' was well matched with Cranston's talents". He also wrote that the Nellie-Andy subplot had some potential to become "promising" if their rivalry continues through the rest of the season, but "we'll have to see".
Brett Harrison Davinger of California Literary Review was more positive, writing that the episode had a more "classic Office" feeling, due to its humor and emotion, which he considered missing from the series in the previous seasons. He praised Jim for being "the show's heart" for being motivated from "a real place" and complimented his final scenes with Dwight, for actually being more in-character in his motivation unlike previous episodes, such as "The Incentive" and "Last Day in Florida". He also praised Jim and Pam's final scene together for having "genuine, quite tenderness" to it. He also complimented the episode's humor and for Andy's "dick" behavior.
Other reviews were more mixed. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix had a more mixed review, calling the episode"decent", by "late-era [Office] standards. While he criticized Andy's behavior for being too much like Michael Scott, and Kevin for being "developmentally disabled", he complimented the episode for having "some decent laughs" and for the Jim-Dwight-Pam storyline. He especially praised Jim and Dwight's scene on the roof of the bus, comparing it to previous scenes in the series between Jim and Michael or Pam and Michael, saying it was able to show the "core of real emotion underneath the cartoon character [Dwight]". Dan Forcella of TV Fanatic awarded the episode three stars out of five, saying that without Brian Baumgartner's performance, the episode "might not have been worth watching". He only had praise for Baumgartner's performance in his character's gags throughout the episode.
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