Friday, February 26, 2010

The Office Debuts Another Web Series, "The Mentor"...

I have never heard anyone say they want to be an accountant. I assumed it was the kind of job you fell into because you were good at math. But Ellie Kemper's up-beat and mild-mannered Office receptionist, Erin, has expressed interest in learning about accounting to both her boss Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) and her co-worker Oscar (Oscar Nunez), and in the four-part web series premiering online on March 4th, she sets about seeing if those dreams can become a reality when she begins to shadow Angela (Angela Kinsey).

Kemper, who watched the show for five seasons before joining the cast, is eager to jump into yet another somewhat wacky storyline for her still-new character. Currently, she and Andy (Ed Helms) have been dancing around each other in an odd flirtation, and though NBC announced that they will soon be going on their first official date, Kemper isn't quite sure where that will lead them.

"I guess the ground work has been laid," Kemper is cautious when choosing the right words so as not to spoil the episode that I admitted I hadn't yet seen. "It seems like every step forward, it's still unclear because there are always weird obstacles...I honestly don't know what the writers have in store for us!"

For now what's most soon upcoming (at least for Kemper), though, is this Mentor web series. The Office was one of the first network shows to branch out into the smaller medium that is the web-- and it can even be argued that it is due to their success that others are now trying to follow down the path. "I know the very first webisodes we did were the Accounting webisodes, and at that time it was a very new genre," Kinsey points out. "I mean, we came in on our day off, and it was me and Brian and Oscar, and we had such a small, skeleton crew...It felt very free and loose; it felt like something we might have done in college."

And now that they have so many of them under their belt (including the very popular Subtle Sexuality that come with music videos!), Kinsey admits that they're a bit more structured but still just as fun. "There's a real sense of play; it's kind of like going to school on off hours. There's no one really there, and you all kind of cut up a little more, and maybe you still get your work done, but instead of sitting on your chair at your desk, you sit on your desk! That's kind of what the energy's like there."

Kemper agrees: "I felt like there was-- I don't know if relaxed is the right word-- but more room..."

Angela's maternal instinct thus far has only been toward cats, though we have seen her affinity for babies dressed up like little adults. Kinsey thinks it would be "a lot of fun" to watch her try to mother an actual human being and go through those emotions. For now, she's considering utilizing Jim and Pam's newborn baby to fill the void-- potentially dressing it up as a mini-Mother Theresa in a habit or creating yet another holiday special when "come Christmastime I could try to make a live nativity scene!"

But in all seriousness, Angela is going to be taking Erin under her wing in this web series, and in many ways that will make her somewhat of a mother figure to the new girl. Kinsey is cognizant of the fact that this might come out of left field for some fans. After all, she has never been the most helpful or open "team" player in Dunder Mifflin before! "If you change a character too much, the audience falls out of love with that character," Kinsey explains. "But it's not like she wants to mentor Kevin!" Kinsey laughs.

Angela really loves her job; she really loves what she does, and she's eager to share that knowledge with someone, as long as that someone seems capable of learning. Besides, Kinsey continues: "I sort of feel like Angela Martin wants a friend! But she's so prickly that it's such a tall order to be her friend. She's not a robot. She misses Dwight; she misses her friend-- because I think he was her best friend-- and I think her ladies' group at church is catty...I think it's always nice to have an ally at work, and she doesn't have that, so I think she sort of jumped at the chance [to play mentor to Erin]."

Kemper admits that she also doesn't know if Erin's time with Angela is going to damper plans for another Subtle Sexuality single. After all, we all know how Kelly (Mindy Kaling) takes rejection! "I've heard rumors that they are going to write another song and maybe make another video, but I'm not sure if those rumors are accurate," Kemper says. But she is quick to add: "I hope they do! I think it's fun to dress up in those clothes and sing!"

Kinsey hopes they leave room for another duet between Andy and Erin. "I love that [they] have such a sweet innocence about them!" She gushes but then quickly goes for the laugh: "They're kind of both buffoons, and there's a real sweetness to that that makes me want to root for them in a way."

And of course Kinsey probably wants Andy and Erin together to allow room for Dwight and Angela to rekindle their...combative romance. She says: "I think Rainn and I have always thought that we're geeky, militant soulmates, and we hope that someday they find their way back to one another."

March 4th will also bring viewers the one-hour episode of The Office in which Jim and Pam's baby is born. With their coupledom solidified episodes earlier during their Niagra Falls wedding, it appears that Kinsey and Kemper have the new "will they/won't they" go-to couples of the series!

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