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"The Office" Mini-Episodes

By admin Published: July 9, 2008

BB

Don't miss "Kevin's Loan," a four-part series of abbreviated episodes beginning Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.com. ...

One of the great things about "The Office" is that the ensemble -- both cast and characters -- is so strong that you can easily build a story about one of the supporting cast members and wring plenty of laughs from it. Indeed, "Kevin's Loan" shows that you don't even need the principal players to have fun.

The premise is that Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) needs money and needs it fast. He has been trying out ludicrous schemes on Oscar (Oscar Nunez), who offers a great, world-weary recap of some of Kevin's ideas, before settling on getting a bank loan to finance an ice-cream business. Except, of course, he wants to spend the money on his problem.

Over the four vignettes, we see Kevin hatch his scheme, seek the loan, get more desperate, and finally receive help from Darryl (Craig Robinson). As funny as Kevin is, Darryl steals the show. You have to see him playing the smooth operator at the bank. You have to hear him say, "I want you to taste the ice cream." (Since seeing that segment, one of my colleagues has begun every phone call to me with that line.)

It's not perfect. A scene with Kevin and his bookie feels like an idea that didn't get thought all the way through. There's the relative brevity -- the four installments total less than 10 minutes -- and the prolonged release; you've got to wait a week between episodes. And I would love to have seen more of the characters reacting to what's going on. (Stanley, played by Leslie David Baker, makes a brief appearance that is pure Stanley.)

Still, I have seen the whole thing three times. And I laughed some every time.

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