Although I've always assumed that The Office was going to suffer greatly without Steve Carrell, this week's episode was the first time I've had an actual feel for what it might be like without him - and it hurts.
Much like when they attempted to make Jim the lead character here and there, back when he was branch manager, "The Seminar" used Andy Bernard to move the plot along. But the sad truth is that neither Ed Helms nor John Krasinski can match Carrell.
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I really liked "The Seminar," but it was more because of the performances around Helms than because of what the Nard Dog was doing himself. Many of the minor players got up off the bench to give us some laughs this week, starting with a guest appearance by the creator and star of the original The Office, Ricky Gervais.In the moment that the embrace between Michael and David Brent ended and the opening theme began, I really wished that I had seen the British version. Because as hilarious as the interaction between these two paper-selling buffoons was, I can only imagine what it would have meant to someone who was a fan of both shows.
When Brent tossed out "that's what she said" and Michael immediately went in for the hug, I completely lost it.
Speaking of people that are similar to Michael and hence bring out the best in him, Amy Ryan continues to impress with her ability to play Holly both as serious and ridiculous. You can really tell that she's having a tough time getting over her break up with AJ, but who could say no to doing a Greek couple schtick with Michael Scott?
Not Holly, which is why Michael must exit the show by her side.
There were plenty of other gems from the supporting cast this week. Between Ryan not being able to commit, Kevin's warm-up music, laps, and eventual vomit, Creed's motivational speech about the Lochness Monster, and Jim's childhood friend calling him out for being too smart, there really was something for everybody.
The only part that didn't work for me - well, other than Andy doing nothing as the lead - was the Scrabble plot. There were no laughs out of it. Erin works best when paired with Michael as her father figure or Andy as a romantic partner. Teaming her up with Oscar and Pam didn't work.
Knowing that it is almost time to say goodbye to Michael Scott, and getting word that Will Ferrell is dropping by for a four episode arc, I am extremely excited to see how the rest of the year will play out. How about you?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.Tags: The Office, Reviews