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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 6 - Customer Survey

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Kelly contacts Dunder Mifflin’s customers to evaluate the sales team. Dwight and Jim get bad reports and Dwight believes there has been a conspiracy against him. Jim and Pam talk all day on tiny blue tooth head sets. Jim works out that Kelly was upset at Jim and Dwight for not coming to a party she threw and she admits she faked the surveys. Finally Angela asks Andy to find a particular location for their wedding and the only place which can work is Schrute farms.

The Good: The customer survey plot is quite fun. For once Dwight’s paranoia is justified and it makes sense that Jim and Dwight (who are written as if they are the best salesmen) wouldn’t get bad reports. That story provides several benefits to the show. As a neat little mystery plot is keeps you guessing and interested in finding out what has really happened. It allows Pam to remind us that she is the one who really knows the people in the office when she analyses Kelly’s behaviour correctly. It also provides nice character based comedy (see below) as well as an excuse for Michael not to be mad at Kelly when he relates to her hurt feelings. His break up with Holly is still affecting him and it is good to see that addressed at the start of the episode and a little here when he takes pity on Kelly. Jim turning off his phone when Michael gives him bad news is a nice character moment too. It makes sense that Jim wouldn’t want Pam to know he wasn’t doing well at work for pride and ego reasons even before we learn about his financial commitments.

The comedy flows from well established character traits and that is pretty rewarding. A laugh that comes from a character reacting in a way which you completely believe will be a much bigger laugh. Dwight’s paranoia and perhaps his desire to live a more dramatic and exciting life leads him to consider whether the mafia are trying to sabotage him. “But then Dunder Mifflin would need to be a front for money laundering and there’s little evidence of that.” Leading Jim to ask the half serious and half silly question of “Is there some evidence?” Then following up on that Dwight runs in on Kelly when he thinks she is listening in on his calls. “What are you talking about?” she reasonably asks, “Oh I think you know” he says dramatically. To which she entirely plausibly replies “You always say that and I almost never know!” Pam leaping on an opportunity to say “That’s what she said” is a nice moment too.

The speech by Alex to try and persuade Pam to stay seems to provide the dilemma for Jim and Pam to overcome. What Alex says makes sense and clearly as a plot device her stay in New York has created a further obstacle to them living happily ever after. It will be interesting to see which way the show takes them in.

The Bad: I hope there is more follow up on Michael’s relationship with Holly or else it will feel like a waste of time. The opening scene where he calls his mother is a decent start.

I still find the Angela-Dwight-Andy triangle difficult to enjoy. Now Angela has decided she wants Dwight back in her life and is going to have her wedding on Dwight’s farm. You feel sorry for Andy in a way, but he is being so blind and he seems to be marrying Angela for all the wrong reasons, so again we are left with a story based around three unbelievable and unsympathetic characters.

How exactly can the microphone’s pick up the Blue tooth conversation? Surely the volume would be far too quiet. The show acknowledges the presence of the cameras and so can’t ignore this plot hole.

Comic Highlight: Michael’s decision to manage Jim and Dwight personally is a surprisingly logical and good decision from him. It also allows Jim to mock both of them by ruining the attempted training call with his fake alias “Mr Buttlicker.” It’s obvious comedy but it is solid and because it has been well established how easily led Michael and Dwight can be, you can buy into the silly jokes.

That’s what I said: A decent episode, some good character stuff, some good comedy.

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