The Office: Season 2 review by Right of Center

Have you ever sat and watched a show that made you really uncomfortable? I’m not talking about watching surgery or a beheading, I am alluding to a more every day type situation that leads to discomfort. The Office captures that feeling. The Office presents Michael Scott, the main character, as the quintessential social retard with his foot forever jammed in his mouth. As fate would have it he is the manager of an office branch called Dunder Mifflin. Every time this guy talks it’s like watching a car crash, you can’t take your eyes off it and the victims are anyone in the blast area. The funny thing is is we all know a guy like this, I’m sure that one day psychologists will label whatever disease or deficiency these people have but until they do its just plain funny. Michael is in a constant state of self-promotion and with every breath he can muster he obliviously offends everyone around him. At one point his boss enumerates a laundry list of flaws in Michael's personality. From the berating, Michael leaves satisfied knowing that she never mentioned he was unattractive, which to him is the most important factor. Michael’s lack of humility and his antics are the driving force of the entertainment in this sitcom.

Michael Scott is the anchor for the show, played by Steve Carell, and is probably best known from the movie ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’; I think he is one of the funniest new comedic type personalities to come around in a while. He’s also been in a few memorable roles in movies like ‘The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’. He currently co-starred in an independent film ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ but played a non-comedic role; probably showing off his more serious side for acting and trying to avoid being typecast. I’m sure this guy will be around for a long time.

The Office: Season Two is based on the British sitcom of the same name and same premise. The cameras follow the lives of a group of people in a paper company trying to avoid downsizing in a world where mega companies like Staples and Office Depot threaten the existence of their little company. The way The Office sitcom is presented to us, the viewer, is interesting because it takes the view of a reality show about an office. Often times the camera is outside a room peering through blinds or across the way from a car window giving us the feeling of candid camera. The genius in the actors is in the way that they, especially Michael, play to the camera; the subtle glance to the camera often brings about a performance of some nature knowing that they are ’On’. Just as often they notice that the camera has caught them in some kind of compromising position. One on one time with the camera also gives a new dimension to the comedy from the characters.

Steve Carell is great but much of the success of the show comes from the supporting cast. I think many of the characters were chosen for their caricature qualities, particularly Stanley (Leslie David Baker), Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), Meredith (Kate Flannery) and Phyllis (Phyllis Smith). These people typically have only a sentence or two during the show but their facial expressions are their true talents. Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasiski) have larger roles in the sitcom, they are two friends painfully aware of the surrounding oddballs they work with. The reoccurring theme in the series is Jims' secret crush on his friend Pam who is engaged to Roy (David Denman) who works in the warehouse. The tension (for more than just friends) is always there between the two but doesn’t come to fruition until the final episode of the season, which leaves us with the cliffhanger of what will become of their relationship. Jim is also the consummate practical joker, who he makes Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) the brunt of his pranks. Dwight is critical to the comedy in this show; he is the blindly faithful sycophant to Michael and is forever trying to assert some kind of power over anyone who will listen, of course nobody does. He reminds me of those people who are always making up special titles in the work place that makes themselves sound more important than they are. Dwight mentions that he needs a wife with large breasts because the Schrute children are thirsty drinkers… funny stuff. Jan (Melora Hardin) is Michaels attractive hard-nosed boss from corporate who makes an occasional appearance. She made the mistake of making-out with Michael in a moment of weakness and pays dearly for that moment at every encounter with him. Jan has to constantly rebuff Michael but of course none of that gets through to him. Other characters are Oscar (Oscar Nunez) the closet homosexual, Ryan (BJ Novac) is the temp whom we feel extra sorry for because of Michael’s strange attraction to him among also having to be at his beckon call for just about anything. BJ Novac is also a writer and supervising producer for this show, which may explain why he is in so many compromising positions, his uncomfortableness is palatable at times.

The Office: Season Two DVD is a 22 episode, 4-disc set with plenty of bonus material including commentaries from the actors, deleted scenes and bloopers. There is definitely some pretty funny worthwhile material in the deleted scenes some of which explains some of the activity in the main material.

This is an excellent show, the writers have managed to come up with fresh ideas for every show to exploit the characters and there seems to be no limit to Michael’s dementia. I think anyone who has worked in the office environment can relate to these characters, everything from the office Christmas party to the moral boosting booze-cruise creates some very funny situations. Anytime Michael manages to dance or sing are some of the most memorable moments in the season; his need for attention is indefatigable. This show is a highlight in my week of television viewing.

10 out of 10 Jackasses
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