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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 22 - Heavy Competition

27 March 2012

Synopsis: Dwight feels loyalty to Michael and so feeds him company information. But when Charles recognises Dwight’s achievements he becomes conflicted. Dwight and Michael then begin a “war” against one another which concludes with them both heading to see Mr Schofield of Harper Collins, Dwight’s biggest client. Back at the office Jim decides to mess with Andy and encourage him to get over his breakup with Angela.

The Good: Again the Michael Scott Paper Company provides for a really enjoyable new dynamic for the show. Seeing Michael start a “war” with Dwight is a story we could never have seen before and the writers seize on it to good effect.

Both men get easily wrapped up in the thrill of espionage and talk of war. Michael screaming “Run! Run! It’s a setup!” as Charles steps out at his meeting point with Dwight. Michael of course overreacts to this betrayal and threatens to “steal all of your clients and then I am going to kill them in front of you!” In a really amusing moment Dwight and Michael both dial Dwight’s biggest client immediately. Dwight is told that Mr Schofield is in a meeting and we cut to Michael. It looks like he has struck the first blow until we hear “If you would like to reach an outside line, please dial...” and he slams down the phone in irritation. Dwight cunningly robs Michael’s office and begins using his rolodex to call clients. He is miffed to find his own card has the simple description “Tall. Beets.” written on the back. Even more cunningly he anticipated Michael would try to eat the lunch he bought for Dwight as a counter strike and so ordered the meatball parm because it’s “their worst sandwich!” Both men take the conflict so seriously the jokes flow easily (see Comic Highlight).

The story even has a neat ending where Michael’s rolodex notes cost Dwight because he doesn’t understand the colour coding on them. Between that and his professional sales pitch to Schofield, Michael reminds the audience that he can be an accomplished salesman. Once more Michael is well written and well rounded. Now that he has Pam and Ryan listening in to his phone calls they are able to help him from getting lost in the misunderstandings which his one track mind leads him toward. As ever he misses the point of certain parts of language, defiantly claiming “I understand nothing!” to Charles. We also see the childish, immature side of him when he feels betrayed and gets lost likening it to the painful memories of his youth.

As ever Dwight’s cold logic can create a good one liner when he claims he is running late for lunch because he hit a bear with his car. “I imagine the true horror will be when he wakes up in a zoo.”

Jim’s story with Andy doesn’t communicate its purpose very well (see The Bad). But the conclusion of their interaction is Jim being kind. He tries to show Andy that not every woman is like Angela and that one day he will find someone new. Andy comes across as very sympathetic at this point, clearly in desperate need of a friend to help him through his pain (“I feel like I could sit here and talk for hours”). I give huge credit to the writers for continuing to show the effects of what Angela’s betrayal did to him. It reinforces the sense that this is a real world, with real consequence, developing in real time.

Michael, Ryan and Pam all catching cheese puffs in their mouths is pretty funny and well filmed.

The Bad: In an episode where Charles recognises Dwight’s work ethic, Jim is once more slacking off. Even if he intended to help Andy, he took out work time to amuse himself. It doesn’t look like Jim will be winning Charles over anytime soon. What wasn’t clear about Jim’s prank was whether he was mimicking Andy with his emotional behaviour. Was that the point? Was he showing Andy what he was like in a break up for effect? Or was he just acting out to amuse himself and make Andy look gullible. Either way it wasn’t effective. The joke just isn’t on Andy because Andy was being nice and trying to help Jim.

Dwight calling new clients with their personal information would be a bit creepy. Wouldn’t they ask where he found that information?

Comic Highlight: Michael asks Dwight if he is recording their conversation. So Dwight pulls up his shirt and undoes his belt, exposing his green underwear to the world. It’s a simple, broad joke but again the fact that both men act like it was a perfectly sensible action adds to the amusement.

That’s what I said: More enjoyable stuff from The Office. The change in dynamic is keeping things fresh and funny.

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