"Product Recall" is the 21st episode of the third season of The Office and the 49th overall. It was written by Brent Forrester and Justin Spitzer and directed by Randall Einhorn. It first aired on April 26, 2007. It was viewed by 7.6 million people.
Jim enters, dressed as Dwight. He explains that he accidentally found Dwight's glasses at a drug store for four dollars, and was unable to resist recreating the rest of Dwight's ensemble for a grand total of eleven dollars. Jim imitates Dwight's mannerisms and tone: "Fact. Bears eat beets. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica," and Dwight starts to get upset: "Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!" Jim screams "Michael!" and runs to his office. Dwight, very annoyed, does the exact same thing.
Dunder Mifflin Scranton is thrown into damage control when some paper is released with an obscene watermark of a cartoon duck and mouse having sex. Michael addresses the media while Jim and Andy try to calm a school principal who used the affected paper to send out prom invitations. After arriving at the high school, Andy notices that his "girlfriend" is a student, and this ruins his day.
Meanwhile, Kelly is entrusted with training the accountants, Oscar, Kevin, and Angela, to handle customer support calls. Angela is unable to sincerely apologize to customers for the company's mistake, while Oscar seems to handle the calls well and Kevin simply repeats his apology over and over again.
Michael arranges for a customer to come to the office, so that he may apologize to her personally and present her with a novelty check for free paper. With the media present (a single reporter from the Scranton Times), Michael apologizes to the customer. However, she refuses his apology and asks for his resignation. Dwight attempts to defuse the situation by insisting that the cartoon sex appears consensual. Michael refuses to resign and angrily decides to give the check to someone else. He then decides to make an "apology video," filmed by Pam, in which he reiterates the fact that the mistake was not his fault and that he has become an "escape goat."
Meanwhile, Creed, who as Quality Assurance failed to catch the error, maneuvers to ensure that he saves his own job (at the expense of an employee at the paper mill). He gets a farewell card for her and money from all the employees. On his way out, Creed pockets the money and tosses the card.
Later, in the car, Jim cajoles Andy into singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to cheer him up. In the closing, Dwight comes to work dressed as Jim and imitates him very poorly.
- Ryan is forced to listen to Kelly repeat the same apology over and over again.
- Michael compares this crisis to an incident in which "an aspirin company" sold bottles with poison in it.
- Dwight calls CNN and tries to reach the Scranton bureau chief, a position which does not exist.
- Alternate takes of Kelly's training session.
- The Scranton Times reporter recognizes Creed, whose obituary he wrote, at which point Creed thanks him for what he considered a flattering portrayal. In a talking head interview, Creed explains that he faked his death ten years ago and is collecting life insurance benefits as his own widow.
- Andy reels from the realization that his girlfriend is a high school student.
- Andy describes how he and Jamie met. Jim, mindful of the cameras, tries to rephrase Andy's story in less incriminating terms but eventually gives up.
- Andy barges into Jamie's Spanish class.
- In a talking head interview, Michael compares dissatisfied clients to women.
- Additional footage from the press conference.
- In a talking head interview, Dwight explains that he doesn't believe in apologies.
- Angela's refusal to apologize to customers leads to a fight with Kelly.
- In a talking head interview, Kevin giggles uncontrollably at the thought of cartoon characters having sex.
- In a talking head interview, Michael explains that the customer is always right, but Ms. Allen was wrong.
- In a talking head interview, Pam discusses Michael's previous apology videos.
- Jim unsuccessfully tries to dissuade Andy from talking to Jamie in the courtyard. Jim tries making small talk with Jamie's friend.
- Creed successfully rebuts Debbie Brown's claim that she is being framed.
- Michael prepares for his apology video.
- Kelly and Angela reconcile, and Kelly excitedly declares them best friends. In separate talking head interviews, Kelly expresses satisfaction for having softened Angela's personality, and Angela says that she learned something from Kelly today, but her look to the camera shows that she was speaking sarcastically.
- Additional footage from Michael's apology video.
- Dwight announces that Debbie Brown has been fired and thanks Creed for his effort in tracking down the problem.
References to previous episodes
- Michael calls the situation "Threat Level: Midnight", which is the name of his screenplay in "The Client."
- Creed tells Dwight that Debbie Brown told him she had an emergency dentist appointment. In the episode "The Fight" Michael talks about friends who come to work late "having dentist appointments that aren't dentist appointments." The following year, in the episode "The Coup," Dwight tells Michael he has a dentist appointment so he can secretly meet with Jan.
Michael's cue cards
- Card 1
- Hello, I am Michael Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton. By now you're probably sick of hearing about Dunder Mifflin and our embarrassing watermark boner.
- Card 2
- I have literally apologized an infinite number of times over this, and still there are calls for me to resign, calls from an annoying woman and possibly even the media alike. Well, let me tell you something. Something from the heart. I will not resign. I am not
- Card 3
- leaving this office. It will take a SWAT team to remove me from this office, and maybe not even then. There is no way I will resign. It wouldn't be fair. Not to the good workers I work with. Not to my clients. And especially not to me. Let's not forget who this resigning business is really all about.
- Card 4 (seen on screen but not read)
- I need this job. My mortgage is hundreds of dollars a month. With this job I can barely cover that. I have a company car, but I still have to pay for gas. Gas prices are high and I have no savings whatsoever. And it wasn't even me. It's so not fair that they want me to resign.
- Card 5 (only partly visible, text implied by Michael's reading)
- If I could leave you with one thought, remember, it wasn’t me. They are trying to make me an escape goat. If I am fired, I swear to god, that every single piece of copier paper in this town is going to have the F-word on it. The F-word. You have one day.
- In the opening scene depicting everyone dealing with disgruntled customers the camera views numerous employees (Pam, Jim, Andy, Phyllis, Stanley and even Michael) on the phone busily talking to customers or someone else. Creed is then seen on the phone not talking and shiftily looking around the office, indicating that he was not really on the phone and only pretending to appear busy like everyone else (this despite the fact he was responsible for the entire crisis).
- When the office goes into a meeting, Creed says he is supposed to do a check every week at the paper mill. Then he says that he blew if off one year, not one week.
- The writing staff appear to have an odd relationship with the teen television show The Hills. In a deleted scene, Jim tries to make small talk by asking about the character Heidi. At Comic-Con 2008, during a writing panel session, the writers compared Jim and Pam to other television couples, and B.J. Novak jokingly compares them to Spencer and Heidi.
- In the cold open, Jim says he spent 4 dollars on glasses and 7 dollars on the rest of the outfit. Later in the episode, Angela tells Kevin that he didn't know 4 + 7 on a payroll form. That money could have been from Jim's spending.
- Jim's talking head dressed as Dwight is performed with the office bullpen in the background, which is a departure from his normal location, which is against the outside window. One interpretation of the symbolism of the talking head location is that the documentary producers are suggesting that if Jim continues on the road of pranking Dwight, he will end up stuck at Dunder Mifflin. Another interpretation is that Jim is pretending to be Dwight, so he takes Dwight's filming location.
- Despite playing a high school student, Shira Scott Astrof was 27 years old at the time of filming, roughly the same age as John Krasinski, and only 5 years younger than Ed Helms.
- In a deleted scene, the reporter from the Scranton Times recognizes Creed from The Grass Roots. The actor Creed Bratton actually played in The Grass Roots.
- Jim's voice cracks as a look of panic comes across his face when he asks Andy who his girlfriend is after realizing that the only adult in sight, the teacher, is not his girlfriend.
- Andy keeps his trench coat on in the school. One stereotype of child predators is that they are usually wearing a trench coat.
- Despite Michael's fondness for Ryan, he insists that "someone who actually made a sale" go with Jim. His choice is Andy, who is ironically the second worst salesman in the office after Ryan.
- When Michael asks Pam if she knows what this is, while holding a camcorder, Pam solemnly replies "Yes." She then explains that she is very familiar with Michael's apology videos.
- Michael puts up a paper of the American flag behind him in an attempt to emulate politicians giving a national address.
- The dark filter, along with Michael's threat of "You have one day" causes the video to resemble ransom videos made by terrorist cells or kidnappers.
- Dwight willingly donates when Creed collects money for Debbie Brown even though he is the one who got her fired.
- Jim cheering Andy up by getting him to sing is reminiscent of "Diwali" where Andy is overjoyed that Jim sings along with him.
Behind the scenes
- The high school scenes were filmed at St. John Paul II Academy in Burbank. All of the background performers were actors, not real students.
- In the original script, the cold open consisted of Michael being scammed by a telemarketer. The cold open that aired was originally written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg for the episode "Women's Appreciation" before being moved to this episode. The line "Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica" came from Michael Schur.
- A part of Jim's Dwight costume is a calculator watch. They were introduced in the mid-1970s and quickly became associated with nerds.
- Michael says the watermark is a "beloved" cartoon duck and a cartoon mouse. This is almost certainly a reference to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Michael saying he "isn't a fan" is probably a lighthearted dig by NBC towards Disney.
- Stat (short for statim =immediately) is medical jargon. Appended to a command, it means that the action should be performed immediately.
- The No Spin Zone is a segment of Bill O'Reilly's political television program The O'Reilly Factor which purports to cover the issues of the day without spin (bias).
- O.J. is a former NFL football player. O. J. Simpson and his murder trial captured the nation's attention during 1994 and 1995.
- Bridget Jones is the protagonist in a series of books by Helen Fielding. When the story begins, she is an unhappy single woman struggling to find love. Ice cream is a food stereotypically consumed by women in such situations.
- Dingo babies is a corruption of the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance in which dingoes in Australia were reported to have taken a baby.
- Andy sings Drift Away, popularized by Dobie Gray.
- Jim asks Andy to play a CD instead of sing. CD stands for compact disc, which was a music storage/playback device developed in 1982 by two companies: Philips and Sony.
- Michael announces that the press conference will be in 45. This is shorthand for in 45 minutes. This usage, however, is usually applied only to "five"; it is not common to use it with "45".
- The Washington Post is a major national newspaper published in Washington, DC.
- The Scranton Times-Tribune is a local Scranton newspaper.
- Dickson City and Carbondale are suburbs of Scranton.
- Tourette's is short for Tourette Syndrome, a medical disorder characterized by motor tics and verbal grunting. In popular culture, it is depicted as a disorder in which victims swear uncontrollably; in reality, the shouting of obscenities is caused by a disorder called coprolalia, which is present only in a small minority of people with Tourette's.
- The Better Business Bureau is an organization which helps to resolve disputes between consumers and its member companies.
- Newsweek is a national weekly news magazine. CNN is an international cable television news network.
- A SWAT team is a police unit specializing in operations with a high risk of violence such as hostage rescue or subduing heavily armed criminals.
- Kevin's exclamation Facial! is a corruption of the victory taunt In your face! Kevin replaces it with the name of a sex act.
- Michael says escape goat instead of scapegoat. Michael's Botched Phrases
- When Andy describes in a deleted scene how he met his girlfriend, he rattles off various illegal activities. He purchased wine coolers for them, even though alcoholic beverages cannot be sold to people under age 21. He "threw in some scratch tickets", sales of which is illegal to people under age 18. Finally, Andy talks about "making out in the woods", which although not strictly illegal, teeters close to statutory rape.
- Jim tries to make small talk with a high school student in a deleted scene by talking about Heidi, a cast member on the MTV scripted reality show The Hills. The student says that her dad gave her a Lexus, a brand of luxury car.
- Steve Carell as Michael Scott
- Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
- John Krasinski as Jim Halpert
- Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
- B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard
- Ed Helms as Andy Bernard
- Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson
- Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone
- Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor
- Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin
- Paul Lieberstein as Toby Flenderson
- Oscar Nunez as Oscar Martinez
- Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance
- Lisa Darr as Barbara Allen
- Shira Scott Astrof as Jamie
- Anthony Russell as Chad Ligh
- Jim Jansen as The High School Principal
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 50: Product Recall. "Office Ladies" podcast, October 21, 2020. Time code 42:08.
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 50: Product Recall. "Office Ladies" podcast, October 21, 2020. Time code 07:25.
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 51: Women's Appreciation,Office Ladies podcast, October 28, 2020, time code 13:19. (The podcast claims that the "Dwight writes up Jim" cold open was swapped with "Business School", but the "Jim dresses as Dwight" cold open was in "Product Recall". Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg wrote "Women's Appreciation", so it is highly likely that the podcast misremembered.)
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 50: Product Recall. "Office Ladies" podcast, October 21, 2020. Time code 14:28.
|The Accountants||The Office - Season 3||Season 4|
|#01 Gay Witch Hunt||#07 Branch Closing||#13 The Return||#19 Safety Training|
|#02 The Convention||#08 The Merger||#14 Ben Franklin||#20 Product Recall|
|#03 The Coup||#09 The Convict||#15 Phyllis' Wedding||#21 Women's Appreciation|
|#04 Grief Counseling||#10 A Benihana Christmas||#16 Business School||#22 Beach Games|
|#05 Initiation||#11 Back From Vacation||#17 Cocktails||#23 The Job|
|#06 Diwali||#12 Traveling Salesmen||#18 The Negotiation|