Poor Andy Bernard. He is a salesman at the Scranton, Pa. branch of Dunder-Mifflin, or, rather, Sabre Corporation, since the season-six buyout. Andy is also unlucky in love, as a sort of recurring theme. First he courted, then became engaged to the very quirky Angela in the accounting department, only to find disappointment. Since then, he has become smitten with the new receptionist, Erin, who came in to replace Pam after Pam had been promoted (sort of) to sales. That hasn’t been working out altogether well for Andy, chiefly due to a number of sadly blown opportunities-something this show is full of in all walks of life.
But say this for Andy, he has not allowed himself to be crushed by these defeats. He still refuses to regard Erin as a lost cause, and in an effort to impress her with his talent (which he does seem to have to some degree), he has been cast in a local theater’s production of “Sweeney Todd.” This provides a wonderfully ludicrous juxtaposition of the somewhat ridiculous Andy Bernard appearing in a very serious Stephen Sondheim musical.
Even more bizarre than that, Michael tries out for that same show with perhaps the oddest audition anyone ever thought of. Given this was an audition for a musical, it is pretty much standard, the first thing each candidate will be asked to do is sing a song, or at least the first few bars of one. If it is a popular audition, with a lot of people trying out, the candidate will be asked to hold the piece down to about sixteen bars or no more than one verse and one chorus.
What Michael Scott does instead is attempt to recite the entire script of a “Law and Order” episode, beginning-no kidding-with: “In the criminal justice system…” And yet he is shocked, shocked, when he does not get cast in the production of “Sweeney Todd.”
On one hand, community theater is a valuable asset to any town. It is working people’s theater that provides a lot of creative individuals, often in uncreative jobs, like selling paper, perhaps, to have an outlet and the people in the area to see a close enough facsimile of a popular show at far less than Broadway prices. But, even if it is a good thing, that does not exempt the institution from being subjected to ridicule, as this episode of “The Office” so effectively does.
Of course, Michael’s bumbling and fumbling through the episode provides the usual, sometimes painful, humor, but, really this one was a showcase for Ed Helms, the fellow who so ably plays the role of Andy. At the same time, he shows flashes of excellent stage presence, even as he manages to thoroughly foul things up. All in all, this was an exceptionally droll episode of what is an exceptional comedy. If you have a number of episodes in Season 7 to catch up on and not a lot of leisure time to do it, this one-Episode 3-would be a good one to make time for.
“The Office,” Season 7, Episode 3