Last week, I talked about how that episode of The Office, “Lotto,” was the best of season eight, in part because the focus wasn’t on Andy so much. Well, this week in “Garden Party” Andy was back at the center, along with his family, and that may be why I felt this episode was less than stellar once more.
The main focus of this episode was about Andy throwing the titular garden party at Schrute Farms. Now, trips to Schrute Farms are usually a good sign, because they tend to be funny and they tend to feature Mose. Oh, we got some Mose, which never disappoints, and we got some funny stuff, but even a lot of the Schrute Farms stuff didn’t exactly work, mostly because it was too silly.
Anyway, Andy has a meeting about his party where he fields questions from the gang. They are sort of expecting a nice picnic type situation, but Andy intends on having a Connecticut Casual fancy party. His intention is to impress Robert California, who is repeatedly referred to by his full name to sell how goofy yet awesome it is, and, also, to try and impress his stodgy parents who prefer his younger brother Walter Jr, who is not related to Breaking Bad’s Walter Jr. Also, he is played by Josh Groban who, according to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is a singer.
Like Michael Scott, Andy really wants people to like him, but he’s pretty much a poor man’s Michael in that vein. He’s more just sort of awkward in that regard, as opposed to being sort of obnoxious and bumbling like Michael. That also makes Michael more funny and more interesting as a character.
Throughout the party, Andy tries to impress both Robert and his parents. However, while trying to get somebody to toast him, Robert instead gives a speech about how he and Andy basically do nothing and the other employees are the ones who really deserve a toast. This certainly does Andy no favors in regards to his parents, and when Andy tries to have a moment with his father where they sing “More Than Words,” which was also done on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Walter and Walter Jr. turn it into a duet between themselves, leaving Andy dejected and shunned.
As Andy sulks by himself, his father comes into the room, but instead of having some sort of heart-to-heart understanding, his father degrades him and his work, while some of the gang listens on CeCe’s baby monitor, thereby justifying having CeCe show up in the episode. I appreciate that the show went this route, even if I don’t feel terribly engaged in Andy’s backstory. It really makes him feel more like the main character and Michael Scott’s replacement, which is also concerning. This did lead to a funny conversation between Oscar and Darryl about the meaning of “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane.
In the end, after Robert and Andy’s family leave, everybody else sticks around to throw a barbeque picnic, as they all hang out to make Andy feel better and such. Then, they enjoy the closing ceremonies, but I shall get to that momentarily. I don’t mind this storyline, and I don’t necessarily mind how it was told. It just didn’t have a lot of funny stuff to it. That’s not necessarily an issue. Sometimes the main storylines of The Office, like in “Classy Christmas,” are more serious. However, this one also lacked dramatic heft. It was decent, and if they went back to Andy’s family more that would be fine, but I just hope they deal with it better than this.
The other main thread going on at the party involved Dwight trying to host a fancy party at Schrute Farms. Why, he even bought a book on it, which just happened to be written by Jim under the guise of “James Trickington.” Naturally, his tips are silly and make Dwight look foolish. Unfortunately, some of it was just too silly. Actually, most of it was too silly. I don’t believe Dwight would have done some of the things that he did. The clothes, which were funny, I believe. Announcing people loudly? Kind of funny. The dancing and the tableaus and what have you, on the other hand, were just too silly. Sure, the closing ceremonies were slightly amusing, but still a bit much. On the other hand, Mose as the valet was quite funny.
There were a couple other funny things from the garden party stuff. Erin getting her hat stolen by a bird. Erin trying to record Andy singing with his dad on her phone but accidentally making a phone call. Erin apologizing to the automated voice on the end of the phone. Basically, things Erin did. Also, Kevin busting out his toupee. The stuff about Pam and Angela naming both of their kids Phillip? Meh.
Everything except the cold open was about the garden party. If only the cold open had been as well. It was the worst part of the episode. Somehow, Andy was able to commission multiple billboards around town. There being a bunch of billboards in Scranton, or the Scranton area, seems fairly ridiculous. Them having the money to get multiple billboards was more ridiculous. However, the worst part was the cheap joke they went with. The billboards just so happened to be ideal for being to graffiti them in a sexual manner. It just felt lazy to me.
While I found this episode mostly uninspiring, it was still pretty good. There were enough good jokes to make it a worthwhile watch, if only just barely. It certainly doesn’t make me any more optimistic about Andy as manager, that’s for sure. Maybe they’ll realize that. Or maybe they disagree with me, which is certainly reasonable. However, so far season eight of The Office has gotten off to a slow start not seen since the first season of the show, which seems fitting given that it is the first season of a new era.