Friday, February 1, 2013

The Impertence of Communicationizing

Funny F*ckin' Friday

A typo made in an office memo leads the employees of Veridian Dynamics to believe they can insult one another without repercussion; meanwhile, Veronica starts feeling guilty about her most recent promotion, despite her best efforts to feel otherwise.

Previous: Change We Can't Believe In

There has never been any doubt in Veronica's (Portia de Rossi) mind that she's earned her position at the company, but here she reveals her concern that her promotion may not have been intended by those in charge. Though Veridian Dynamics maintains that they do not make mistakes, the recent memo encouraging rude language in the office suggests otherwise, and if one misstep could slip through, then what's to say that Veronica's entire business career hadn't been another?

This series is at its best when it takes a very simple concept and spins a ridiculous story around it, here being a perfect example of how a common spelling mistake can create an entire narrative revolving around the fact that "employees must NOW use offensive or insulting language in the workplace," rather than not using it at all. Veronica spins it to appear as though the company's encouraging the employees to treat each other as a real family, and Linda (Andrea Anders), who normally is very opposed to the outlandish suggestions of the company, agrees that employees who feel insulted may work harder in order to avoid any future insults. Ted (Jay Harrington) goes to human resources asking that a retraction be written, but they refuse to take action, arguing that this is their first chance to let out some much needed aggression; it's only later, after being insulted themselves, that Ted's bosses are convinced to write a new memo based on the groundswell of employee feedback, allowing them to avoid admitting that they've made a mistake and pretend to be genuinely listening to their employees' suggestions. Veridian Dynamics is presented here in the perfect way: devoid of humanity, unwilling to compromise, and constantly looking to convince its employees that their morale is higher than it really is.

Veronica mentions the memo that announced her promotion, describing it as having congratulated "Palmer" on "his" promotion, and she worries that she may have gotten her position by mistake, feeling guilty because it very well could have belonged to Walter Palmer (Chris Parnell). In trying to apologize to him he instead apologizes to her, stating that he had handled her promotion very poorly and had felt guilty about doing a rude impression of her back in the day, and their attempts to make amends with one another eventually lead to the two of them dating. Veronica's guilt continues to escalate the worse Walter's life appears to become, and Veronica's made to go to Linda for advice on the subject, learning that the only way to get rid of a man is through the use of three words: "future, babies, commitment." Unfortunately for Veronica, her plan backfires, and she suddenly finds herself engaged to Walter with no way out of the situation without feeling terrible about herself, until Ted discovers the original memo that proves that it was Veronica who had earned the promotion, absolving her of her guilt and giving her the chance to rid herself of Walter completely. It's always fun to see Veronica being out of control of a situation, and here she loses a great deal of agency in her efforts to make amends to a man she can't even stand. De Rossi and Parnell play off of one another incredibly well, and their story together here greatly benefits from their combined comic timing.

Phil (Jonathan Slavin) and Lem (Malcolm Barrett) are initially confused because they never read their e-mails and memos, believing, at first, that everyone just hates their ideas. The two of them then go back and start reading all of the messages that they had never had the chance to, but despite the fact that it leads to a fairly funny storyline for the two of them, it's odd that they would be the ones that are shown to ignore company documents when normally they are incredibly aware of what the company wants and expects of them.

At one point Phil makes a joke at the expense of a delivery man, resulting in both he and Lem being physically assaulted. The gag isn't all that funny on it's own, but the fact that Lem is dragged into the situation when he had had no hand in it is bothersome all it's own.

De Rossi is absolutely phenomenal in this episode, her chemistry with the actors surrounding her is great, and her delivery of her lines is spot-on, especially when Anders' Linda takes things a little too far and Veronica says to go "easy, Linda, it's a memo, not a magic shield." Harrington, Anders, Slavin, and Barrett are all great in this story as well, and Parnell's appearance here only leaves the question as to why he's not a regular member of the cast.

This episode feels very reminiscent of the first season, making good use of Ted's voice overs, and though it lacks the commercial for Veridian Dynamics, it doesn't really need one. Michael Fresco's direction here brings this story back to where this series is at it's best, and it's a pleasure to experience from beginning to end.

Michael Teverbaugh and Ingrid Escajeda team up to write this script, taking small issues and blowing them far out of proportion to hilarious results. Linda tells Ted that he takes issue with the company's new memo because he has a need to be constantly in control, leading to his attempts to be more relaxed in meetings that, in turn, turn his project into a ridiculous mess that incorporates all the bad ideas thrown at him. Lem tries to help Phil with his insults, giving Phil the idea to create a math algorithm that will come up with insults for him. Things spiral out of control so easily in this story, and it works so well in the context of this universe; the writing for this season is really hitting its stride, and it's a return to form.

Very rarely is Veronica made to feel insecure about anything, and though she experienced that here, her confidence is greater than ever in the end. Ted's confidence is also boosted as he proves, once again, that he's capable of creating change even in the face of the company's staunch and continued refusal.

Next: The Long and Winding High Road


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