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Recap / The Office USS 7 E 17 Threat Level Midnight

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After eleven years of production, Michael finally screens his film Threat Level Midnight to the rest of Dunder Mifflin staff, most of whom were also in the film.

Airdate: February 17, 2011

Tropes Found In The Episode:

  • Absentee Actor: Erin and Gabe do not appear in the movie. According to B. J. Novak, Michael finished filming all the scenes before either of them started working in Scranton and spent the rest of those several years editing the film together.
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  • All There in the Manual: The extended film explains many of the cliches and backstories.
  • Asshole Victim: Goldenface demonstrates his ruthlessness by killing one of the hostages... only for Michael Scarn to reveal he was a wanted animal rapist. That dead hostage was played by Toby, naturally.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Since the Dunder-Mifflin staff members aren't professional actors, much of their dialogue delivery either comes off as way over the top, sounding like they're phoning in their performances, or trying to sound decently dramatic in spite of the cliched writing. Karen's line delivery is especially bad, to the point the documentary crew actually tracked her down to ask her about this, much to her irritation.
  • Battle Butler: Dwight's character Samuel, even before he's revealed to be a robot.
  • Brick Joke: Todd Packer played a drunk who thought that "The Scarn" sounds gay. The earlier was found in the film version. He later declared after the song "If doing the Scarn is gay, then I'm the biggest queer on Earth!"
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  • The Bus Came Back: The nature of the movie having been filmed over the course of the show allows several characters to return for brief appearances in it, including Roy Anderson, Jan Levinson, and Karen Filippelli. A Deleted Scene also featured David Wallace.
  • The Cast Showoff: The main reason for why there's hockey in the film.
  • Cliché Storm: The film in-universe is this with regards to many action movies.
  • Color Motif: Gold for... well, Goldenface.
  • Creator Backlash: Jim (who plays the movie Big Bad Goldenface) expresses this in-universe, saying he only took the role to impress a certain receptionist.
  • Crusading Widower: Michael Scarn is mainly motivated by his dead wife.
  • Expy: Goldenface is basically Goldfinger... except it's his face that is gold.
  • Freudian Excuse: Goldenface reveals that he used to work at a gold factory that didn't allow its employee to even eat, so he ate the gold until his face turned gold, somehow. The audio was barely heard in the episode but heard clearly in the movie version.
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  • Fridge Logic: In-Universe. The president is revealed to be evil, yet Michael Scarn accepts another mission from him at the end knowing this anyway.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Any hockey fan will tell you there is no "Half-Time" in the sport.
  • Heads or Tails?: Michael Scarn decides whether to come out retirement and take the job with this.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": The Threat Level Midnight movie is this.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Karen asks the documentary crew why they found it necessary to go all the way to Utica to ask her about her one line in a movie that was filmed years ago.
  • The Lost Lenore: Catherine Zeta-Scarn for Michael Scarn to the point of causing his retirement prior to the events of the film.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Creed's character, Cherokee Jack, is The Obi-Wan hockey teacher for Michael Scarn who dies midway through the movie.
  • Narm: In-Universe. Michael intended for Threat Level Midnight to be a serious action movie, but between the shoddy production values, the fact that none of the actors are actual actors, the plot hole riddled writing and cliched dialogue, among other things, the whole thing falls apart and becomes an unintentional comedy akin to The Room.
  • Narrator All Along: In the movie, Michael Scarn narrated his own film.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Filming the hockey scene involved Michael going out into an actual Scranton High School hockey game when they were qualifying for states. Because of him, they had to forfeit despite having an undefeated season.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Scarn attempts this with him telling Goldenface "go puck yourself" by throwing the bomb puck at him... only for him to miss and Goldenface tries to shoot him.
  • President Evil: President Jackson (played by Darryl) later turns out to be in league with Goldenface. That doesn't stop him from recruiting Michael for another mission at the end.
  • Re-Cut: An extended version was released, which contain all of the filmed segments made for Threat Level Midnight and none of the other content.
  • Robot Maid: Samuel is revealed to be one at the end, although Michael was insistent he wasn't one until giving into Dwight's demands.
  • Robotic Reveal: Samuel, via Dwight eventually getting his wish for him to be a robot.
  • Shout-Out: The hockey training montage is an in-universe rip-off of The Karate Kid.
  • Shrug of God: In-Universe. Michael apparently forgot several details of his movie over the course of making it, such as whether or not Dwight's character is a robot, and the President being revealed to be evil only to be shown as a good guy again at the end.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe. Michael eventually accepts that his movie is this.
  • Society Marches On: Darryl explains that he took the role of the President because he thought it would be good for his daughter to see a black man as President.
    Darryl: What a stupid waste of time.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Michael Scarn learns where the hostages are located via Jasmine Windsong (played by Jan) doing this.
  • Throw It In!: In-Universe. At one point, Samuel takes a bullet for Michael Scarn. Michael says that this was not scripted.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Michael Scarn's narrating voice is so deep.
  • You Killed My Wife: Goldenface later reveals he's the one who killed Michael Scarn's wife Catherine.
  • Wag the Director: In-Universe. Dwight wanted his character Samuel changed from Michael Scarn's human butler to a robot. Michael refused and got Dwight to perform the role as he wanted it by telling him Samuel would now be a highly advanced robot that was indistinguishable from a regular person. The whole thing was rendered moot when Michael eventually decided to make him a robot anyway.
  • Your Head Asplode: Toby's character, in what Michael calls "the most expensive shot of the film." But it was crucial to the plot. Apparently.
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