Tonight, the third episode of the NBC workplace comedy Outsourced will air. Last week's episode, Measure of a Manmeet, finds wet-behind-the-ears manager Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport) struggling with the fact that, due to insufficient sales, he is being asked to fire someone - an order he is given by his boss in America, who breaks the news over a very corny video conference. Todd is a genuinely nice guy, and he hates the idea of having to let any of his employees go. He wants them to succeed, so instead, he hopes to find the weakest link and help steer him or her to dramatically improved performance, thus removing the need for a reduction in staff.

To his shock, it turns out that his most underperforming employee is Manmeet (Sacha Dhawan), an enthusiastic young man with whom he has already begun to forge a friendship. Manmeet is fascinated with Western culture, and he is particularly intrigued by American women. Hence, he spends all of his phone time sweet-talking the women on the other end of the line and none of it actually selling stuff. Pretty audacious of him; most call centers monitor calls on a fairly regular basis, so I would think that he would worry about being found out. Heck, if I were him, I'd be worried about Todd overhearing me when he walked by. But Manmeet's rapport with Todd has had the effect of making him just a bit cocky.

While Manmeet is the primary character upon whom Measure of a Manmeet focuses, office chatterbox Gupta (Parvesh Cheena) also has a pretty prominent role. From the first episode, we get the sense that this pudgy, soft-spoken fellow is just about the least popular guy in the office. He's a lonely fellow who just wants to be accepted. Ironically, in his employee evaluation, Todd reprimands Gupta for the very misbehavior that he doesn't realize Manmeet is committing: keeping customers tied up in idle chat when he should be moving on to the next sale. The difference is that Gupta does actually sell a few things in the process - and also that those with whom he is speaking don't seem to want to remain on the line with him, while Manmeet's customers - most of whom are middle-aged and afflicted with a variety of ailments - all seem to see this as a free version of a dirty hotline.

Madhuri (Anisha Nagarajan) is nearly as quiet in this episode as the first, but we learn that she has been pulling her weight around the office, so evidently she is beginning to get over her shyness. At the beginning of the episode, she amusingly screams in such a nearly-silent, high-pitched manner that I imagine all the dogs in the neighborhood must proceed to perk up their ears and come running. Later, after Todd encourages her to work on her assertiveness, she dares to correct him on the pronunciation of her name. Todd wants to comply but can't understand how what he's saying is any different than what she's saying, reminding me of the Fred Armisen / Maya Rudolph Saturday Night Live sketches involving an eccentric family with unpronounceable names.

Spirited Asha (Rebecca Hazelwood) seems to be the most accomplished member of the staff, and there seems to be a flirtatious tension between her and Todd, particularly in the scene in which she tries to help him get the knack of the odd little head-bobbling motion that is so popular among his employees. Gupta reveals that he has a crush on her, but I can't help wondering if Asha, despite her derisive attitude toward many American customs, might be carrying a little torch for her new boss.

Rajiv (Rizwan Manji) struts around the office with a cheesy grin under a mustache worthy of Tom Selleck, taking perverse delight in the thought of firing someone. This is a man who aspires to Todd's position, and he makes that perfectly clear right from the start. His behavior tends to veer toward the obnoxious, as does that of Charlie (Diedrich Bader), who brags about his ability to keep his distance from his staff and casually fire people, aggressively comparing the process to hunting down elk. While Todd's nicknaming of his employees is rather demeaning and akin to the mnemonic device Michael Scott breaks out during a meeting in season five of The Office, I love the fact that he names one of them Frodo. Even though I don't quite get the connection.

Speaking of elk, the episode opens with Todd deciding to scare each of his employees in turn by setting up a motion-activated bleating deer head to greet them. The thing sounds much more like a goat or sheep than a deer to me, but then I always think of deer as extremely quiet animals. Maybe they really do sound like that when they're agitated. Somehow, though, I suspect not. In any case, this is juvenile but rather amusing, and I could relate to the employees' shock rather well since I nearly went through the ceiling last year when my brother encouraged me to open the box containing a Christmas present he had just received and I found myself staring into the glassy eyes of a taxidermied deer head.

Other than the deer head, the novelties don't really play a big role in the episode, aside from the scene in which Todd leafs through the catalog to find an item appropriate to each of Manmeet's long-distance flames. I found the decreased emphasis on these annoying objects something of a relief. I noticed that peppy Aussie Tonya didn't play a part in this episode, but I understand that she will in the next, and that dinner will be involved - which will perhaps finally afford Todd to get a taste of the food from back home that he's missing so much. I'm already getting tired of the incessant jokes about cows, but while I definitely wouldn't call Outsourced a great comedy, I didn't find Measure of a Manmeet totally groan-worthy.