by Kelly Bedard
I know, I know, I'm more than a week behind the ball on this but I just had to take a moment to share my love of the Office season premiere.
In what is already turning out to be a really smart move, the writers moved James Spader's hilariously powerful Robert California to Kathy Bates' tired CEO position and had him appoint great character/mediocre salesman Andy as Regional Manager in his place. The well meaning go-getter spearheaded a really clever and terribly sweet episode that almost had me crying like hormone-charged Pam.
I loved the idea of Robert's list, I loved the paranoia it inspired. I loved Toby declaring he was in the wrong group and walking out of lunch. I loved Robert's surprisingly human speech explaining himself:
"Let me tell you some things I find productive: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, honesty. I’ll tell you some things I find unproductive: constantly worrying about where you stand based on inscrutable social clues and then inevitably re-framing it all in a reassuring way so that you can get to sleep at night. No, I do not believe in that at all. If I invited you to lunch, I think you are a winner. If I didn’t, I don’t. But I just met you all- life is long, opinions change. Winners, prove me right. Losers, prove me wrong."
I loved Andy sticking up for his employees but I also really loved him standing firm on his "Gabe is a loser" stance- the sad sap corporate liaison is the Toby for the Andy era. I loved how good of a boss he proved even with just a single scene. I loved Erin declaring that she likes her new group but she liked her old one too (a true winner of a character) and I super de duper loved the casual camaraderie of the employees' 5'oclock farewells to their new boss- they still gave him a hard time but got their appreciation across with the least cheese possible. The tag in which Jim dropped a "list" of his own was pretty cheesy but if you factor in that he most definitely did it on purpose to brighten Pam's day it was kinda great.
A great kickoff to what will hopefully be a strong season, even without Michael Scott.