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"Lecture Circuit Part 1" is the sixteenth episode of the fifth season of the television series The Office, and the show's 88th episode overall. It was written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Ken Kwapis. The episode aired on February 5, 2009 and was viewed by 8.39 million people.

Cold open

Michael is heard breathing heavily over an intercom system in the office. Jim then explains that earlier in the day a representative from their phone company showed Michael how to use the public announcement (PA) feature on their phones. Michael is then seen spending the whole day doing impressions over the intercom system, mocking Toby and even leaving the system open while calling his doctor about his mole. Having had enough, Jim enters Michael's office with a pair of scissors and discreetly cuts Michael's phone line, leaving Michael none the wiser as he continues his impressions.

Synopsis

Michael is asked to go around to the different branches to lecture about Scranton's success, except Nashua, where Holly was transferred, as Michael says it's still a "little bit raw" there. He brings Pam along as his assistant, mostly just to carry around his belongings. Pam states that she agreed to come on the trip because she gets time and a half pay. Their first stop is the Utica branch, where Karen is the regional manager. Pam is nervous to see Karen as she believes Karen is still mad at her over Jim. When Karen comes to greet them, the two are shocked to see that she is pregnant. Michael immediately asks if it is Jim's, which Karen denies. Michael's lecture to the Utica branch is a failure and Karen brings Michael and Pam into her office. While Michael fools around, Karen reveals to Pam she is due in one month and is married to a dermatologist named Dan. Pam mentions that she and Jim are engaged, about which Karen hesitantly but happily congratulates her. On the way to the car, Pam mentions to Michael that she is happy she came on the trip because she found closure with Karen. Later, in the car, Michael tells Pam about Holly and how he never really found closure with her. Pam suggests that they drive to Nashua so that he can find closure, and Michael agrees, blowing off the lecture in Rochester.

Back in Scranton, Jim and Dwight become the reluctant heads of the Party Planning Committee after Phyllis blackmailed Angela. Michael determined that Angela and Phyllis became too power hungry when they were the sole heads at their respective times, and it would be best for both of them to step down and appoint two new heads. They openly show their disdain for it, which is reflected in their performance of their duties when Kelly chastises them for forgetting her birthday. They try to make it up to her by having a party but do a poor job setting it up as Dwight puts little effort into blowing up the balloons and neither of them know how old Kelly is. Dwight reads through Kelly's file report and finds out that she has been to juvenile hall and discloses the information in a talking head (while glossing over a note from previous employers testifying it does not affect her job performance).

Meanwhile, Andy finds himself attracted to Julia, a potential female client, who is talking with Stanley. Andy awkwardly interrupts their business meeting and Stanley pulls him aside. Andy admits his attraction to her to Stanley, who then gives the potential client over to Andy in exchange for two of his clients. Andy awkwardly gets Julia to reveal that she is single and tries to muster up the courage to ask her out. Creed suggests that he goes in for the kiss, before mistakenly calling him Jim. Andy walks the client to her car and attempts to kiss her, but she immediately rebukes his advances. Andy apologizes and mentions that he just got out of a relationship. The client mentions that she got out of a relationship as well and Andy starts feeling a connection, but she still rejects him and he loses the account.

Connections to previous episodes

  • Jim and Dwight explain that Michael made them heads of the Party Planning Committee after finding out Phyllis blackmailed Angela over the position. Phyllis was revealed to be doing so in "Weight Loss" and her blackmail was revealed in "Moroccan Christmas".
  • Michael has a Canadian flag sticker on his luggage. He went on a trip to Winnipeg three months earlier in "Business Trip".
  • Pam tosses chocolate bars into the audience during Michael's speech to the Utica office just as Michael did to Ryan's classmates in "Business School."
  • Jim and Dwight forget to throw a birthday party for Kelly. This is the second time they have forgotten about an event regarding Kelly. They had previously forgotten to attend her America's Got Talent party, as mentioned in "Customer Survey."
  • In the photo of Karen and her husband dressed as a hamburger and hot dog, Karen's husband resembles the "Hiya buddy" hot dog doodle from "The Deposition."
  • The Utica branch's copier (visible through the window to the room behind Michael during his presentation) is chained to the wall, with a blue sign stating "Report any suspicious persons near the copier!" In "Branch Wars," Michael and Dwight attempted to steal Utica's industrial copier, only to break it while pushing it down a stairwell.
  • When Michael and Pam are discussing Karen's pregnancy, Michael asks Karen if she was impregnated by a “sperm machine”, alluding to the way Jan decided to have a child as revealed in "Goodbye, Toby."
  • Pam carries Michael's luggage. In the British version of The Office, David Brent makes Dawn carry his luggage in the episode "Motivation".
  • Holly previously broke up with Michael when having to relocate to the Nashua branch in "Employee Transfer".

Trivia

  • B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) is credited but does not appear in this episode.
  • In the cold open, nobody does anything when Michael says things on the PA system, but when Michael begins abusing Toby, Jim realizes Michael has gone too far and decides to cut the wire and put an end to the system. This is possibly a reference to Jim's friendship with Toby.
  • Pam is getting "time and a half pay 24 hours a day, for three days." During that time, she is earning four and a half times her regular pay. In three days, she makes what would typically take two and half weeks. It also suggests that Pam is an hourly worker, not salaried. (Michael likely just offered to pay her a bonus at that rate as an incentive.)
  • The episode provides no explanation for the car Pam and Michael take to Nashua. It is not Pam's Toyota Yaris nor Michael's PT Cruiser. Perhaps they rented a car specifically for this trip.
  • Michael introduces Pam to Rolando as if they didn't know each other. In the episode, "Branch Wars," Pam and Rolando seem to know each other and he was the one who informed her of Michael, Jim and Dwight's antics. They had never met in person but probably knew each other through phone calls. Rolando may have simply gone along with it to be nice.
  • This episode occurs approximately 20 months after Jim and Karen broke up, not ten, as Michael miscalculated.
  • Karen shows a picture of her and her husband wearing silly costumes. Jim steadfastly refused to wear costumes for Halloween.
  • The character of Julia is played by Erica Tazel, who went on to play Deputy US Marshal Rachel Brooks in the TV show Justified.
  • Michael makes multiple references to fast food, reflecting his penchant for that type of food.

Amusing details

  • Karen appears to be pleased to see Michael again when he first arrives at the Utica branch, only to immediately frown after Michael's reaction to her pregnancy. This is similar to Jim stating how he felt his rivalry with Dwight was petty "and then he spoke" in "The Convention".
  • Kelly is upset with Jim and Dwight forgetting her birthday and not throwing a party when it is revealed that the entire office (except possibly Phyllis and Angela) forgot as well.
  • Michael mispronounces the word "mnemonic" as "pneumonic".

Behind the scenes

  • Dunder Mifflin Utica was filmed at 20525 Nordhoff Street, previously seen in Branch Wars".[1] (Exteriors were shot on the east side, near the front of the building.)
  • Karen's husband Dan is played by Dan Goor, a writer on Parks and Recreation.[2]
  • Production while filming this episode had to be shut down for 20 minutes at one point because Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski had a laughing fit.

Cultural references

  • Michael breathes loudly into the PA microphone, imitating the heavy breathing of the character of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series of movies.
  • Michael announces that he is "the ghost of salesman past", referring to the Ghost of Christmas Past from the story A Christmas Carol.
  • Michael announces "At six foot six, from the University of North Carolina, Jim Halpert!" This is roughly how professional basketball player Michael Jordan was introduced at the start of games (example), but with Jim's name substituted.
  • Over the PA, Michael asks, "Would you like fries with that? Please drive around." Michael pretends that he talking over the speaker at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant. The fast-food chain McDonalds introduced the sales technique of always asking customers if they want to add French fries to their order, and the phrase has become a cultural shorthand.
  • Michael refers to a "herd of turtles". The word herd is applied to hooved animals such as cattle or deer, generally known for moving quickly.
  • Michael calls his secret recipe for success "eleven business herbs and spices," referring to the fast-food chain KFC, whose "Original Recipe" for fried chicken is a secret blend of eleven herbs and spices.
  • Pam says that she's earning "time and a half", meaning 1½ times her regular pay.
  • Sam Kinison was a comedian.
  • al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization with particular hatred of the United States. It came to the forefront of United States attention when it carried out coordinated attacks on September 11, 2001.
  • Out of your league is slang for someone or something significantly superior, against which one has little to no chance of success. It is most often applied to dating.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance is a ritual pledge to the flag and nation of the United States, commonly recited at the start of each school day. Old Macdonald (short for Old MacDonald Had a Farm) is a nursery tune that feature the sounds of farm animals.
  • Andy sings the song "1234" by Feist, with altered lyrics.
  • Michael tells the employees to prepare for "the Utica chain store massacre", referring to the slasher movie The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
  • Creed mentions that he ended up with Squeaky Fromme, a member of the Manson family who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
  • The Berks County Youth Center was a juvenile detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania. It closed in 2012 due to low usage.[3]
  • A juvenile detention center, colloquially called juvie, rehabilitates minors who have broken the law. They are also used to hold minors who need to be kept in a safe place temporarily. Kelly was in detention for a year an a half, which is unusually long and suggests a very serious offense.
  • Creed gives Jim a $3 bill. United States notes come in $1, $2 and $5, but not $3. The phrase phony as a three-dollar bill is a colloquial expression which Creed makes real. Creed's bill has President George W. Bush on it.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Special guest cast

Guest cast

  • Erica Tazel as Julia
  • Adam Jamal Craig as Rolando
  • Brian Patrick Mulligan as Mark "Baldy"

References

  1. The Office Filming Locations, Season .
  2. Tan, Jenny. "My visit to the 'Parks and Recreation' set", page 2. Office Tally blog, April 9, 2009.
  3. Young, Mary E., County youth center closing; transfer of juveniles to begin by June 8, Reading Eagle, April 4, 2012.
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