I think NBC may have done the impossible by replacing Steve Carell’s unforgettable Michael Scott in their comedy smash hit The Office. While it will be hard to imagine Scranton without constant reminders of “That’s what she said,” I believe they’ve won themselves a Dundee by going with James Spader and his ultra-confidant character Robert California to be the new manager (and more) of Dunder Mifflin.
As a matter of fact, they may have done too well because according to an NBC press release Mr. California does in a matter of months what Mike Scott wasn’t able to do for over a decade: get promoted! That’s right, Robert California’s hypnotic charm moves him right up the corporate ladder straight to Tallahassee, Florida and the CEO position at Sabre!
His interview with Jim, Toby and Gabe during the finale of Season 7 was masterful and left Jim prophetically stating in his wake, “He creeps me out but I think he might be a genius.” The official announcement was made by NBC and executive producer Paul Lieberstein who described California this way:
“James will reprise his role as Robert California, this uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior. Lieberstein goes on to add that, “He’ll have been hired over the summer as the new manager, but within hours, got himself promoted. Within days, he took over the company. James has an energy that is completely his own, and The Office has no tools for dealing with this guy. We’re thrilled he’s joining our cast.”
You knew Robert had this in him if you saw the amazing interview in which he immediately overwhelmed Jim, Toby and Gabe. Here is an exact transcript of that scene:
Toby: How will your experience selling refinery equipment translate to our smaller scale here?
Robert California: You don’t work in sales do you?
Toby: No, human resources.
Robert California: You see when I sit across from a man I see his face. I see his eyes. Now does it matter if he wants a hundred dollars worth of paper or a hundred million dollars worth of deep-sea drilling equipment? Don’t be a fool. He wants respect. He wants love. He wants to be younger. He wants to be attractive. There is no such thing as a product, don’t ever think there is. There is only sex. Everything is sex. You understand that what I’m telling you is a universal truth Toby?
Gabe: Okay, I’m almost a little concerned that you might be overqualified. Do you think that you are?
Robert California: Do I look like someone who would waste my own time?
Jim: You um (clears his throat), you are a man of great confidence. Could you speak a little more to that? What the role of confidence would be in a dialogue with a subordinate?
Robert California: Will you be heard? Will you have a voice? Will I steamroll over you? Do you feel hurt right now Jim? Do you have a voice right now? You can answer me.
Robert California: That was your choice not mine. The fallacy is that it is up to the steamroller. It is up to the object whether it will be flattened or not and I can tell just by the small interaction we’ve had already that you won’t be flattened by anybody. Do you agree with me Jim?
Robert California: Yes you do.
Now THAT is how you conduct a job interview ladies and gentlemen. Did you notice that the only response the search committee could muster when put into a room with the great Robert California was a simple “yes.” High-class weirdo Jedi Warrior indeed my friends. And if you missed his epic run-in with Dwight, that is must watch television.
I am assuming this means Kathy Bates’ wonderful character (And her dogs) will be leaving the show – which is a drag. But, it should be great to get the occasional visit from Mr. California instead!
Since Jim, Pam, Dwight and the rest will all be under the (mind) control of Robert California we might as well get used to seeing his face am I right? (If I were California you would have just been powerless and forced to answer yes.) Here is a gallery of all sorts of Robert California countenance clips. Click on any of the thumbnails to view the full image and remember it is your choice whether or not to click and be steamrolled by Mr. California!