Finished Season Three…

…And well into season 4. So, more “The Office” talk.

If you don’t like it, well, hey. My blog, man.

I’ll bullet point it:

  • I’m not fully sure why, but I’m actually really invested in the Jim/Pam stuff. I think it’s Jenna Fischer. Her smile is incredibly infectious. Just looking at it cheers me up. Extremely attractive, but she has the “girl next door” thing down pat. Her performance is very underrated.
  • Season three might have been slightly worse than season 2, but the whole season is worth it for Prison Mike. And the Ben Franklin episode.

    Seriously though, just watch the Prison Mike scene. I’m not sure if I’ve ever laughed so much within four minutes. “You my friend would be da belle uv da ball”.

  • I like that the season finales end on high notes. I guess ending season 2 with Jim kissing Pam and season three ending with him asking her on a date are technically cliffhangers, but they’re definitely optimistic ones. I like that.
  • I’m a broken record by now, but Carrell is stunningly good as Michael. He takes a guy who should be thoroughly unlikeable in every way and somehow has you rooting for him. Truly a brilliant performance.
  • Looking at the comments sections of reviews is hilarious in retrospect. Season four so far has certainly been up to par with two and three. The people who were saying its darker had apparently never seen the episode “Halloween” or the episode where Michael almost jumps off the roof (hilariously, onto a bouncy castle, but still).
  • Another thing that puts “The Office” above and beyond other sitcoms is how it handles its few serious moments. I really think, so far anyway, that the balance is dead-on perfect. The few serious moments pack great punches – When Pam and Jim cheer Michael up at the Dundies, when Michael gives the kids his Halloween candy, when Jim awards Michael the gold medal in “Office Olympics” and, my two favorite, Michael complimenting Pam at her art show and Michael’s “Absolutely not” line in “The Deposition”. Wow. That one REALLY hit home.

    That, by the way, isn’t all of the serious moments. I think the reason they work so well is that, with very rare exceptions, the serious moments are tied up in completely ridiculous situations. Michael expressing solidarity with Jim on the booze cruise is touching, but the whole reason Michael is there is because he’s been tied to the railing after lying about the ship sinking. Even the pathos is inherently undercut with humor.

  • “The Office” does a good job convincing you that certain employees at Dunder-Mifflin (Dwight and Jim specifically) are actually quite good at their jobs when they decide to work, and they do a pretty good job showing people how, exactly, Michael got his position: He’s an outstanding salesman. The increasingly ridiculous scene at Chili’s in “The Client” is actually a really good explanation of how Michael got promoted. At one time he was a genuinely good, even great, employee.
  • I don’t care if it bothers some people. Jim’s pranks on Dwight are some of my favorite parts of the show. Faxes from “Future Dwight” are major highlights.
  • Favorite episodes: “The Client” and “Dinner Party”, which I haven’t gotten to in my binge-watch quite yet (next episode) but which I saw separately on TV. Absolutely hysterical, and incredibly dark. “The Office” at the top of its game.
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4 Responses to Finished Season Three…

  1. dpmonahan says:

    I think Jenna Fischer carries the first few seasons, in the sense that if it were all the antics of Steve Carrell and Rain Wilson, after a while it would be unbearable no matter how many times Jim gave funny looks at the camera. She really is enchanting, and it is Pam more than anyone who actually changes and grows as a person as the years go by. Jim does too, but not as much.
    I haven’t seen you comment on the reality-TV aspect of the show. Being in front of the camera exacerbates Michael’s bad behavior. On the other hand, Pam and Jim are the only main characters who are fully aware of the implications of being filmed and generally try to behave accordingly. David Wallace is a minor character who is a little creeped out by being filmed, and that is why he is likable.
    Jim, Pam and David Wallace are almost a relief when they are on screen. Everyone else does not seem to quite get the joke, and that there is something dehumanizing going on around them.

    • I love the mockumentary style. It’s very refreshing to see a sitcom try and pull something a little different now and then (as much as I like certain “laugh track/live audience” sitcoms they do get a bit old after awhile.

      I think that Pam is the person most genuinely concerned with what she does and doesn’t show on camera, but Jim is the guy who gets how to work it best (which is why he has the most funny glances).

      It’s true that Michael seems to be exaggerating himself as well, as if he really wants to prove that he’s funny and well-liked, and this try-hard nonsense mostly leads to hilariously terrible results. Hitting Meredith with the car in season four (which cracked me up) was a direct result of Michael paying too much attention to the camera and not enough to the road.

      Pam’s reactions in the art show scene were absolutely perfect. It’s those moments where you see that it’s not all an act and Michael genuinely cares about these employees that makes him somebody you want to succeed in spite of himself.

      Also, come on, you just need to grin when you see her smile at the end of season three. It just makes me happy to see it.

      I think Carrell is the best actor of the group (he has the most difficult role), but Fischer is definitely a close second. The whole cast is pretty great though.

  2. Syllabus says:

    Been watching The Office for the first time recently. So far, while the main characters are stunningly good, I do think that, line-for-line, Stanley is my favourite character. The scene where he blows a gasket at Ryan for supposedly gawking at his daughter is one of my favourite scenes so far.

    • That’s a great scene.

      There’s an excellent episode in (I think?) season 4 called “Did I Stutter?” that brings the whole Michael/Stanley relationship to a head. If you like his character you’ll like that episode a lot.

      So far, for me, the highlight of the whole series has been “Dinner Party” (I’m in to season 5). Wow. Fantastic cold opening, and the episode starts with the normal sort of awkwardness that inevitably comes when showing friends your home for the first time then slowly transforms into a sort of psychological war between Michael and Jan.

      It can’t have been easy to make Michael actually be too good for a character, but the writers did it.

      Every single thing about that episode makes me laugh. Just a stunning 20+ minutes of television.

      “Jan and Michael seem to be having a competition to see who can make their guests the most uncomfortable. Both of them are winning.”

      That just about sums the episode up.

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