One week after the memorable, seven-year Steve Carell era ended on “The Office” in superb style, the four-week run of Will Ferrell as DeAngelo Vickers came to a close Thursday, and hopefully it will be forgotten as soon as possible.
Ferrell was obviously brought in to cushion the transition from Carell, and one can certainly understand the impulse. But in four episodes, DeAngelo seemed to have about six different personalities, and the effect on his scenes and the show’s regular characters was unpleasantly schizophrenic.
Just for example, Vickers was displaying social anxiety disorder in the April 21 episode and seriously unhinged for most of the April 28 Carell finale, capped by a scene in the tag in which he grabbing huge chunks of cake with his bare hands and then throwing them out, prompting Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Jim (John Krasinski) to look at each other in horror about their new boss. A week later, all was forgotten, as Jim was suddenly captivated by DeAngelo, eager to curry his favor and ignore his obvious issues.
Amid all the “What now?” questions that have hung over “The Office” for the better part of a year now, the show has actually had a very underrated season — not its best, but still entertaining — with Carell himself rekindling the possibility that he might win his first Emmy for playing Michael Scott after his fantastic work in his proposal to Holly (Amy Ryan) and in his spot-on farewell. The public still doesn’t know whether “The Office” will go with an outsider this fall to start its first full season without Carell, but if so, hopefully the character will be someone who doesn’t resemble a series of “Saturday Night Live” skits randomly strung together.
Personally, I have faith that what happened with Vickers was an aberration, and though we won’t know that until 2011-12, hopefully we’ll see better signs for the future next week and in the cameo-filled May 19 season finale with Will Arnett, Jim Carrey, Ricky Gervais, Ray Romano and James Spader. Even without Carell, and even with the magic romance of Jim and Pam evolving into their more mundane marriage, “The Office” still has life, but it can’t bear a lead character who doesn’t mesh.