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The Office

The Office is a comedy set in a paper sales company Dunder Mifflin. Shot in a mockumentary style the show follows the exploits of regional manager Michael Scott whose excruciating behaviour can make life difficult for his fellow employees. NBC 2005-???

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Episode 26 - Company Picnic

27 March 2012

Synopsis: It’s the Dunder Mifflin company picnic. Michael heads off with Holly to work on their sketch about the history of the company with a plan to tell her why she should get back together with him. Dwight rallies the Scranton branch to play well in the inter-branch volleyball match. He is aided by Jim and particularly Pam who it turns out has played a lot. Michael and Holly’s sketch Slumdunder Mifflinaire is a disaster including the revelation that the Buffalo branch is going to close. Pam injures her ankle in the final match between the New York branch and Scranton. Jim rushes her to the hospital while Dwight tries to stall things. At the hospital they discover that Pam is pregnant.

The Good: The pregnancy reveal is a nice surprise to finish the season off on a high note. It was made all the more memorable by a wonderful piece of acting from Jim. He looked genuinely overwhelmed and excited by the news and the tears were welling up. It takes great skill to show emotions like that in such a short space of time. The silent revelation of the pregnancy definitely added to the emotion of the moment. And it was a nice touch to stay consistent with the documentary style of filming.

Michael and Holly are one of those rare combinations of characters and actors which work beyond normal television couples. Holly’s endless grins have this likeable, childish quality to them. She matches up so perfectly with the equally childlike Michael Scott. She manages to make his childishness, the source of his ignorance and selfishness, seem charming and sweet. Like Jim and Pam the actors were able to tell the story without saying the words to one another. Holly knew that Michael wanted to say something more but he chose not to spoil the nice day they had together. It’s a sign of real maturity from Michael and after the events of this season; I found it a plausible sign of growth for him.

The company picnic is a nice plausible day out of the office to bring us some nice character moments and laughs. I liked that Michael and Holly’s sketch was so awful. Just because they get on well shouldn’t make Michael suddenly funny. I enjoyed Michael telling Holly that he has seen a lot of tough audiences in his time. The volleyball matches were an ideal source of plot development and humour (see Comic Highlight). It looks like Dwight and Angela may not be over as a love story. And that may well clear the way for a goofy romance between Erin and Andy. Charles Minor is back making an enjoyable cameo by being a jerk to Jim. Dwight almost stole the show though with his attempts to delay the match once Pam had been taken to hospital. First he kicks the ball away in mock anger and walks incredibly slowly to fetch it. Then he tries another tack asking how many people will be hurt by this game and solemnly counts upward, refusing to stop as he counts ever higher, each number said as a question of incredulity as if he is listing casualties of war. We even see Jim and Dwight hug much to their mutual bemusement after working together to win a match.

Stanley sits on the sidelines all day drinking and laughing at the shenanigans going on. Jim made a joke about Pam’s boobs only to get a frown from her. Michael’s childish attacks on AJ – “Alright fatty” were amusingly transparent. And in one of those only-Michael moments he reads “Soup snakes” instead of “Soul mates” on his list of reasons Holly should get back with him. But he immediately tries to justify how “Soup snakes” could be right rather than accept that it made no sense.

The pre-credit sequence where the office convinced Michael it was the end of the day was another nice joke. Again it made good use of Dwight to draw out the silly comedy.

The Bad: David Wallace should know not to trust Michael with secret information.

Comic Highlight: The competitive, angry streak in Andy starts to come out once more. As the volleyball game goes on Erin misses an easy shot and Andy yells “Are you blind!?” He immediately stops himself and realises how that might affect his chances with her and covers up his mistake. Erin seems convinced and they play the next point which Kevin screws up. “Are you blind!?” Andy immediately yells at him. “Can you see things with your eyeballs?” He continues.

That’s what I said: A wonderful end to a wonderful season of comedy. It’s so rare when a show gets better as the years go on. But I am convinced that The Office has become a better show. By developing its characters so well the comedy has come easily and the writing has made all the characters (bar Angela) seem more likeable. That is the key for me because likeable characters are easier to laugh along with. I give huge credit to all those involved.

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