The Pack is back. And is anyone happy about it? Not so much.
It’s about time. That’s all I really have to say about Michael’s realization that Todd Packer is a scumbag in the episode titled simply “Todd Packer.” Since 2005 we’ve had to deal with his crude comedy and inappropriate pranks in several episodes that would ultimately rank among my least favorites. These episodes were times when we, the audience, felt the one and the same with the characters on The Office, sharing in the same thought: There is no one in Scranton more annoying than Packer.
It is truly hard to believe how few episodes can create such a memorably obnoxious character. Packer, played by David Koechner, has only been in ten episodes of The Office. You have to give Koechner some credit for making a character so impossibly terrible. I mean, weird and crude are recurring adjectives in his character repertoire (see Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Thank You For Smoking), but totally imbecilic is a new level of achievement. If Michael is known for using tasteless humor, then Packer is the epitome of impropriety.
In a few years with only a couple of appearances, he’s harassed several female employees, made dozens of terrible and offensive jokes and even left excrement in Michael’s office as a prank (Season 2 Episode 14 – “The Carpet”). Yet Michael remained his unwavering biggest fan throughout.
Now was the shift we’ve been waiting for. A good cap to a frustrating friendship that existed for too long and Holly is to thank. Finally, someone knocked some sense into Michael. With reportedly only a few episodes remaining of The Office with Michael Scott, this is a loose end that wasn’t necessarily important to tie up, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying to see Packer stop misleading Michael into bad decisions.
Even without the very thrilling turnaround in Michael’s perception of Packer, this was a pretty enjoyable show. For the first time, Jim and Dwight play a prank together. While Dwight didn’t contribute much, it’s always nice to see Jim get back into the swing of things, even tricking Dwight along the way. While the ideas weren’t so clever as faxes from Future Dwight (Season 3 Episode 7 – “Branch Closing”) or the “Quad-desk” (Season 6 Episode 19 – “St. Patrick’s Day”), putting a lock on Dwight’s desk drawer to make him unable to open it was not terribly sub-standard.
Those segments of the story really carried it along. They stuck to the main theme of anti-Packer prank pseudo-warfare. What kind of felt detached and weird was the story about Pam’s generous bestowing of a new computer for Erin at the reception desk and Andy’s ensuing jealousy. Again we see The Office trying to incorporate all characters by whatever means necessary, even when those means seem out of nowhere and slightly random.
It was a good segment, though; don’t be misled to believe otherwise. And if an entire episode had been made about the office employees wanting new computers because one person received one, then that might have made it less out of the blue. But then it might have vaguely resembled “The Surplus” (Season 5 Episode 10), in which Michael was made responsible for choosing whether the extra money the branch had in the budget would be spent on a working copier, more comfortable chairs for every employee, or a bonus on his own salary. If you haven’t seen it, you can guess what decision he made.
With this portion of the season wrapping up until sweeps in the spring and unknown waters to be trod in the forthcoming episodes of The Office, this was a pretty acceptable way to re-inspire some sympathy for characters that have gotten more comical throughout season seven. This is particularly true for Holly, who in becoming Michael’s back-on-again lover, also managed to lose some of her charm as a character. With her disapproval of Packer she gained back some of her authentic character and while the weird voice impersonations between Michael and her still exist, they were many times less irritating when her character no longer seems unrealistic.
There will be no Office next week, and according to the season seven Wikipedia Page, the next episodes on the roster are Michael’s going-away shows. I can only say that according to the Kübler-Ross model, I’m still in the first stage of grief, denial. I can only hope that someone just as great as Carell is found to replace him. I found an article floating around saying Ricky Gervais suggested Will Arnett for a spot. I would love to see G.O.B. Bluth playing a role on The Office. Let’s make this happen.