DAYS OF DUNDER

Summer is the best time to discover TV shows on DVD. Two years ago, I found the brilliant “Arrested Development.” This time, my new obsession is “The Office.” How freaking awesome is this show! While the series has been launched since 2005, I didn’t watch it since it’s situated against two enormously popular shows: “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” But I’m really glad I’m finally on board now. And you should too. Give it a chance and estimate the show.

Steve Carell plays Michael Scott – the regional manager of the Scranton Branch of the paper distribution company Dunder-Mifflin. Michael aspires to be “World’s Best Boss,” as his mug would like you to believe. However, the opposite might be closer to the truth. He aims to be likable and funny, but his humor goes too far and becomes unintentionally insulting. Rainn Wilson plays Dwight Shrute, the so-called “regional manager assistant”… no wait, “assistant to the regional manager.” He’s the by-the-book dweeb of the office. Fact: He likes bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica, bobbleheads, and Birkenstock sandals.

Salesman Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and receptionist Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer) are the engaging players to the series’ slow burn romance. They’re best friends in the workplace; they love playing pranks on Dwight. Their chemistry is palpable, although their romantic feelings are achingly subdued. Jim is careful not to cross the line because Pam is engaged. Finally, there’s the new guy, the unlucky temp, Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), whom Michael calls (awkward man-crush alert!) the office’s hottie. Ryan is not very enthusiastic in working at Dunder Mifflin. He does not wish to stay long or even be remembered when he leaves… if he ever gets to leave.

What’s great about “The Office” is its mockumentary approach. There’s a discomforting realism involved. Steve Carell hamming it up as the bombastic boss is one thing. The realistic reaction shots by his co-workers bring the comedy up to another level. In fact, the cast looks the most ordinary bunch in TV and it’s what makes the show click and easy to relate. I could picture myself in there, avoiding Michael, being weirded out by Dwight, suspecting something between Jim and Pam, or silently screaming at the camera for help.

The first season had only six episodes. “Diversity Day” and “Basketball” are its standout highlights. “The Hot Girl” introduces Oscar nominee Amy Adams from “Junebug.” The second season is at its heavenly best. Most episodes are just classic. Among the best are: “Sexual Harassment,” “Booze Cruise” and “Casino Night.” One of my favorite plot lines is when Pam discovers a screenplay, written by Michael Scott, starring (who else) Michael Scott.

The third season was also great. I thought the shake-up and an overcrowded cast diminished the series a little bit. The season premiere (“Gay Witch Hunt”) was laugh-out-loud hilarious though. It’s the most cringe-worthy episode yet. The season also amusingly referred to other TV shows such as SNL (“The Merger”), Survivor (“Beach Games”), Amazing Race (“Traveling Salesmen”) and Lost (“Initiation”). The season finale (“The Job”) provided another twist to set-up the highly anticipated fourth season, which begins September 27. Woo-hoo! I can’t wait! Come Emmy Awards, I finally have a show to excitedly root for (since my beloved “Friday Night Lights” was passed over). To the talented men and women of “The Office,” I want to extend my gratitude. Thanks for the bountiful laughs. You always left me satisfied and smiling.

(That’s what she said)

Grade:
Season 1 – A-
Season 2 – A+
Season 3 – A

CAST
Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Kate Flannery, Leslie David Baker, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Oscar Nunez, and Melora Hardin
Based on the British series created by
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Developed for American television by
Greg Daniels
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