|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Ken Whittingham|
|Written by||Brent Forrester|
|Cinematography by||Randall Einhorn|
|Editing by||David Rogers|
|Original air date||November 16, 2006|
|Running time||30 minutes|
"The Merger" is the eighth episode of the third season of the American comedy television series The Office and the show's 36th overall. It was written by consulting producer Brent Forrester and directed by Ken Whittingham. It first aired on November 16, 2006, as a special "super-sized" 40-minute (including commercials) episode on NBC.
The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton and Stamford branches of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In this episode, the two branches are merged. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) have an awkward reunion, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) tries to make his new employees feel welcome, and a rivalry begins between Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms).
The episode featured recurring guest stars Helms, Creed Bratton, Rashida Jones, Wayne Wilderson, Mike Bruner, and Ursula Burton. According to Nielsen Media Research, an estimated 8.63 million viewers watched "The Merger" on its first broadcast. Critical reception to the episode was mainly positive, with many reviewers spotlighting Helms and his character in particular as highlights.
The Scranton and Stamford branches prepare for the upcoming merger. Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) professes excitement over the merger, mostly because of the return of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski). She soon learns throughout the day that Jim has become slightly distant to her and that he has formed a close relationship with Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones), visibly shaking her. Feeling bad with their awkward reunion, Jim catches up to Pam at the end of the day and informs her that he's seeing someone. While Pam assures him that they're still friends, Jim leaves shaken as well.
Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) proclaims he'll be the No. 2 man in Scranton in six weeks time through "name repetition, personality mirroring and never breaking off a handshake." A rivalry between Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and Andy begins over the No. 2 position in the office. At the welcoming party, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) plays a videotape he has created called "Lazy Scranton", which features him and Dwight rhyming over the music of Saturday Night Live's "Lazy Sunday".
In a plan to unite the employees, Michael unintentionally embarrasses obese new employee Tony Gardner (Mike Bruner) by attempting to push him onto a table with the rest of the new employees, making the whole arrangement awry; this causes Tony to quit. However, an angered Michael fires him instead, also unintentionally entitling him to severance pay. When Michael announces that Jim is the No. 2 in the office, Dwight and Andy argue over who is No. 3. They find that they have a common interest: their apparent fondness towards Michael.
"The Merger" was the fourth episode of the series to be directed by Ken Whittingham. It was written by consulting producer Brent Forrester, his first writing credit for The Office. The episode featured guest appearances from recurring actor Creed Bratton as well as from Ed Helms, Rashida Jones, Wayne Wilderson, Mike Bruner, and Ursula Burton, whose characters joined the Scranton branch. In her weekly blog for TV Guide, actress Kate Flannery stated that it "was a really fun episode" to film, as she was able to work with a variety of new actors. She added, "They double the size and they double the comedy... It was like a party all week shooting this episode."
The season three DVD contains a number of deleted scenes, including Kevin and Angela reacting to Jim's return, Karen noting that she and Meredith have the same thermos and being offered alcohol, Andy introducing himself to Kevin, Michael telling Karen and Phyllis that eventually they will "share the same menstrual cycle," Hannah and Meredith fighting over desk space, Andy asking Kevin if he has lost weight, and Michael performing a magic trick in front of the office. The original broadcast contained a small subplot involving Kevin and a new paper shredder from Staples Inc., where Kevin talks about how he is given almost no responsibility at work but is content as long as they let him shred documents. It was removed from the episode for the DVD release and is not contained in the deleted scenes. It is included on the Amazon Prime Video version of the episode.
"The Merger" was first broadcast on November 16, 2006 in the United States on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). As a special promotion, the network broadcast "super-sized", forty-minute episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, and My Name Is Earl. According to Nielsen Media Research, an estimated 8.63 million viewers watched the episode. Among adults aged 18 to 49, it earned 4.2/10 ratings share, meaning that it was seen by 4.2 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 10 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of broadcast. The episode reached second place for the night in that demographic, and twenty-fourth for the week among all the major networks.
IGN's Brian Zoromski rated "The Merger" 9 out of 10, an indication of an "amazing" episode. He called the opening sequence "arguably the funniest" scene, and believed "Andy's proven to be an even better source of hilarity than he ever was in the Stamford office." Zoromski was unhappy however with the "outright product placement " with Staples, writing that "the show's quality felt a little compromised. It's one thing to see blatant product placement in a reality show like Survivor or American Idol but when it invades a great scripted comedy… well, it kinda drags the show down to the reality level." Doug Elfman of the Chicago Sun-Times thought the episode was "funnier than it's been in a while," praising Kelly but criticizing the "fat-guy joke." Elfman cited Michael and Andy's new relationship as a positive element. Television Without Pity graded the episode with an A+.
Entertainment Weekly columnist Abby West praised Fischer's "masterful" performance, writing that it "really is nice to see Pam coming into her own... And I love that she didn't inhibit herself when Jim walked in — she just ran right up and hugged him." West also highlighted Carell and Helms, explaining that with the former, "Michael is never completely loathsome — because Steve Carell imbues him with such vulnerability." AOL TV writer Michael Sciannamea also enjoyed Helms' performance, believing that "the competition between Andy and Dwight will surely make for some classic moments." Sciannamea concluded his review, "What makes this show so great is that the supporting players have a chance to shine at the right moments. I thought Stanley's reactions to the whole situation were hysterical, and Creed is just great. He deserves some more airtime."
- Ken Whittingham (director), Brent Forrester (writer) (November 16, 2006). "The Merger". The Office. Season 3. Episode 8. NBC.
- "Integration Celebration: The Branches Merge on The Office". Film.com. November 17, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Flannery, Kate (November 15, 2006). "Episode 8: The Merger". TV Guide. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Deleted scenes of "The Merger" (DVD). The Office: Season Three Disc 2: Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 2007.CS1 maint: location (link)
- Prestipino, Peter A.; Ted Murphy (April 7, 2009). "Getting Into Website Sponsorships". Website Magazine. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Zoromski, Brian (November 17, 2006). "The Office: "The Merger" Review". IGN. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Giant, M. "The Merger". Television Without Pity. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Torrance, Kelly Jane; Christian Toto (November 16, 2006). "'Rock' rolls on". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 3, 2012. (subscription required)
- "Nielsen primetime ratings report. (Market share report) (Statistical table)". Daily Variety. November 22, 2006. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2012. (subscription required)
- Kissell, Rick (November 20, 2006). "Crime on the scene: 'CSI' closes in on 'Grey's'. (market share of television programs)". Daily Variety. Archived from the original on April 1, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2012. (subscription required)
- Elfman, Doug (November 16, 2006). "NBC supersizes the laughs: Best of network's comedies cut 'must- see' shows down to size". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2012. (subscription required)
- West, Abby (November 17, 2006). "Paper Tigers". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Sciannamea, Michael (November 17, 2006). "The Office: The Merger". AOL TV. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2012.