Hey Office Flans! If you can believe it, today is the the 10th anniversary of the airing of Casino Night. This Second Season finale, written by Steve Carell himself, gave us so many great things: Dinkin’ Flicka, Scrantonicity, Afghanistinanis, “I hate so much about the things you chose to be”, Michael having 2 Queens on Casino Night. And of course, this:
Part of the style of the show was that it wasn’t important that actors hit precise marks. And in [the scene in the parking lot] in particular, there were times when one actor would block the other, you wouldn’t have a good view or as much of a view if you had asked the actors to hit specific marks. To me, it helped sell the idea that the documentary crew was just there to capture something as opposed to the scenes they staged for the benefit of the camera. It just helps the emotions.
We shot it with one camera only, and the camera was hidden far away from where Pam was standing, talking on the phone with her mother. So we really shot it in a way that was like we were eavesdropping on Pam and one of the things I love about the shot is that when Jim walks in, Pam’s back is to us. He walks up to her and kisses her and with that angle, you see his face quite clearly, but you really don’t see her expression. As an audience member, you get to fill in those emotions that you can’t see on her face. You get to imagine how she’s reacting. In a funny way, it puts you in her shoes.
They’re the scenes that launched 1000 fics and fanvids, but even 10 years on they’re still so lovely and heartbreaking and timeless. Also never forget the summer of ’06, aka the summer of agony, as fans has to wait months to learn what the aftermath of The Kiss was.
With around 200 episodes in the Office repertoire, a few were bound to be, shall we say, not as good as the others. Whether it’s lack of plot progression, overly cartoonish antics, or just plain unfunny, here are episodes that fans will think about skipping during their Office marathons.
How did I get this list – Fact: it would be impossible to make a list everyone agreed on, plus The Office was just really solid the first 3 seasons so it’s hard to pick “bad” episodes. I tried to be as democratic as I could and consulted the “Survivor Polls” and posts over at Officetally.com. This list is comprised of the bottom two episodes from Season 1 and the bottom three from Seasons 2 and 3. Go to the bottom of the post to vote!
The Pilot ep 101
I wouldn’t go so far as to say you should completely skip the very first episode, but if you’re new to The Office, or trying to recruit a friend to watch, you may want to put it aside for later. The pilot is basically an Americanized version of the first UK Office episode, causing many critics to initially write off the show as another failed British adaption. Even viewers who haven’t see the UK version are sure to be put off by the dull colors, the lack of secondary character development, and the “meanness” of early Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. Saving grace: Despite being one of many elements copied from the UK version, it’s hard not to smile during the “Stapler in Jello” scene.
Hot Girl ep 106
There was nearly no Season 2 after the low ratings of this Season 1 finale. The main plot line is rather thin (hot girl visits the office, seriously, that’s about it) and there’s not really any secondary plot to fill out the episode. Michael comes off as too desperate when he buys a thousand-dollar espresso machine to impress the Katy the purse girl, and having the thick-calf-ruddy-cheeks-loving Dwight be interested such a conventionally attractive and feminine woman feels odd. Saving grace: Jim and Pam’s commentary as Dwight looks at purses guarantees a giggle from me every time. It’s also fun to see a pre-“Enchanted” Amy Adams as Katy the purse girl.
The Carpet ep 214
A prankster leaves a pile of something incredibly stinky in Michael’s office. It’s kinda funny, but it’s also kinda gross. Michael is more annoying than usual as he is out in the main room for the day. Todd Packer doesn’t even appear on camera and somehow there’s still too much of him. Also, Jim being back in the Annex for the day means no interaction with Pam or Dwight, and really no episode is complete without that. Saving grace: Jim listening to Pam’s messages at the end of the episode is extremely sweet. Also we finally get some development of Kelly’s character in this episode, and she’s, like, totally awesome.
Dwight’s Speech ep 217
There’s nothing particularly bad about this episode, the only thing I find that makes it not-so-great is the main story lines are somewhat disconnected. Of course I know this episode is about Dwight’s surprisingly successful dictator-like speech, but I always have trouble recalling what the other story lines of this episode were. It doesn’t help that in this episode Jim books a trip to Australia (to avoid Pam’s wedding day), and then it’s never mentioned again. Saving grace: The conference room scene with the office giving Jim destination suggestions is pretty great.
Take Your Daughter to Work Day ep 218
It’s probably a good thing this isn’t a popular episode because yikes what an overly long title. Even the acronym, TYDTWD, is cumbersome to type out. Anyway, there really isn’t anything particularly bad about this episode, which as the title suggests is about kids visiting the office for the day. On it’s own it’s fine, but when stacked up again all the other great episodes of Season 2 it’s just not as strong. Really the only thing wrong with TYDTWD is that it’s a bit forgettable (even with that acronym). Saving grace: Michael’s unlikely bond with Toby’s daughter is funny and very sweet.
Diwali ep 305
Typically The Office is best when it stays in the office. Episodes that take place out of the office are pretty hit (Dundies, Booze Cruise) or miss, and unfortunately Diwali just falls on the “miss” side. My problem with this episode is many of the plot points aren’t well explained. Do they really have such an elaborate Diwali celebration in Scranton, PA? Why exactly do Jim, Andy, and Karen need to stay so late again? And what on earth possesses Michael to propose to Carol? (Plus what makes Carol stick around until ‘Benihana Christmas’?) Saving grace: The conference meeting with ‘culturally explicit images’ is pretty good stuff.
Ben Franklin ep 315
To love The Office is to appreciate it’s awkward, uncomfortable moments, but Ben Franklin had a few too many to truly be enjoyable. It’s borderline painful to watch Pam’s awkward conversation with Jim, and you can feel her confidence plummet when Karen calls her and Jim’s kiss “no big deal”. Meanwhile, the “bachelor party” in the warehouse just gets weird. Saving grace: The “bachelorette party” with the Ben Franklin impersonator has it’s moments. Also Michael telling Fake Ben Franklin that he’s kind of a sleaze bag is ridiculous and hilarious.
Phyllis Wedding ep 316 There’s nothing new about Michael needing to be the center of attention, but he’s completely out of control in his attempts to make every aspect of someone else’s wedding all about him. It’s disturbing to see Phyllis rip off all of Pam’s wedding ideas with no remorse, and just plain depressing to watch Pam feel so lonely and dejected that she falls back into ex-fiance Roy’s arms. Saving grace: The cold opener with Jim’s Pavlovian experiment on Dwight is pretty solid. And Dwight and Angela are cute.
So there we are, the bottom 8 of Seasons 1-3 . Now it’s time to vote! Please select which of these were the worst of Season’s 1-3. If your least favorite is not in the list, go ahead and list it in “Other” (make sure it’s from these seasons! There will be polls on Seasons 4-6 and 7-9 posted later!)
Previous Round, Dwight’s Speech: Jim is uncomfortable with Pam doing her wedding planning in the office and books a flight to Australia on June 8th, two days before Pam’s wedding. It’s clearly an excuse for Jim to avoid the wedding, but Pam doesn’t challenge him about the date, though she is obviously saddened by the fact he won’t be attending. Final score: -4.
Jim and Pam playfully banter about Pam bringing extra candy to bribe the visiting kids: +1
They are both standing and leaning towards each other at the reception desk: +1
Pam is impressed (and envious) with Jim’s ability to immediately win over Kevin’s fiancee’s daughter Abby: +2
Roy is upstairs and Pam mostly hangs next to him during Michael’s video: -2
Pam and Jim hang out together by Michael’s office door: +1
Pam laughs at Jim’s comments about Young Michael’s clothes: +1
Roy calls to Pam to watch him roughhouse with Meredith’s son: -2
Pam is not impressed with Roy and glances at Jim: +1
Pam’s interest is piqued when she overhears that Jim has a date: +1
Jim and Pam joke about Michael’s musical skills: +1
With Pam turned away from him, Jim leaves for his date: -2
Pam, still thinking Jim is there, starts to talk: -1
And she gets a pensive look after waving goodbye to Jim: +1
Final Score, +3: An interesting episode where there isn’t obvious progress, but there are several positives to draw from. Pam takes on a kind of observing role this episode, watching how Jim and Roy relate to kids. Like with adults, Jim wins kids over with his humor and easy-going demeanor, while Roy is more about teasing and rough-housing. We also once again see Pam get jealous at Jim having a date, and although it’s at a more subconscious level, Pam’s jealousy always makes her very well-suppressed feelings for Jim a bit more apparent.
“Take Your Daughter to Work Day” Season 2 Episode 18 Air Date: March 16, 2006 Writer: Mindy Kaling Summary: The tension is higher than usual at Dunder Mifflin with kids running around the office. Pam works on getting past her awkwardness with children, and Michael befriends the daughter of his rival, Toby. Continue reading →
Previous Round, Valentine’s Day: It was a rather unromantic Valentine’s day for Pam; she watched Phyllis and other co-workers get lavished with gifts while she received nothing from Roy (or Jim). Jim missed an opportunity to “save the day” for Pam, but at the same time it will hopefully force Pam to evaluate how much her fiance Roy let her down. Final score: -4
Jim and Pam are in the kitchen bantering about Dwight getting the top salesman prize: +2
Phyllis comes in asking about Pam’s wedding dress, causing Jim to quickly leave: -1
Pam tells the camera she has to do wedding planning in the office: -1
Jim overhears Pam’s wedding planning and decides he needs to plan a vacation: -1
Pam gets Kelly and Ryan to help her address Save-the-Dates, within earshot of Jim: -1
Ryan seems surprised Pam is inviting Jim, but Pam tells Ryan that Jim is one of her closest friends: +2
Pam sounds annoyed when she talk about Roy’s lack of involvement in wedding planning: +2
Jim books a ticket to Australia, and Pam seems very excited for him: +1
But then he confesses he’s leaving June 8th, two days before her wedding: -4
Pam seems a little upset about the overlap, but doesn’t say anything: -1
Jim awkwardly offers to take her save-the-date to a mailbox, but Pam says she’s got it: -1
And he leaves for the day: -1
Final Score, -4: From Jim’s perspective, his actions are understandable; he was devastated on the Booze Cruise when Roy and Pam set a wedding date, actually going to the wedding would probably be unbearable for him. Booking the trip to Australia gives Jim a great “out”. However, from Pam’s perspective, she’s sad and maybe even hurt that her best friend is not coming to her wedding. If Pam challenged Jim about the timing of the trip and whether Jim is missing her wedding on purpose, maybe some feelings would have been addressed, but she doesn’t so the episode ends at a bit of an impasse.
“Dwight’s Speech” Season 2 Episode 17 Air Date: March 2, 2006 Writer: Paul Lieberstein Summary: After being named Salesman of the Year, Dwight has to give a speech at a convention. Michael tries to coach the nervous Dwight, but Dwight gets his best advice from a surprising source. Back at the Office, Pam plans her wedding, and Jim plans a trip. Continue reading →
Previous Round, Boys and Girls: When Pam learns about a graphic design internship, Jim is completely supportive, but Roy is not and Pam decides not to pursue it. Jim challenges Pam about her decision, but she pushes back and says she’s fine with her choices, though an emotional talking head interview suggests otherwise. Final score: -2
Pam smiles as she talks about the funny card Jim got her for Valentine’s Day last year: +2
She says Roy and her agreed on no big fancy gift since they’re saving for the wedding: -1
But she’s still excited to see what Roy gets for her: -1
Jim mentions he broke up with Katy: +1
So he doesn’t have to worry about Valentine’s Day: -2
Pam is getting frustrated that all the Valentine’s Day deliveries are for other people (mostly Phyllis): -1
She keeps give Jim hopefully glances: +1
Jim may be referring his situation with Pam a bit when tells Kelly that Ryan is not into her, so she should just suck it up, move on, and try to have some fun: -1
Roy shows up and Pam tells him she’s a little disappointed he didn’t get her anything: +1
Roy smugly says that when they get home, Pam’s going to get “the best sex of her life”: -1
Pam is embarrassed by Roy’s comment: +1
The first Jim and Pam even talk to each other this episode is when he’s about to leave: -1
As he grabs his coat, Jim smiles broadly and wishes Pam a Happy Valentine’s Day: +1
But he smile immediately fades when his back is to her: -1
And Pam watches him, sad that Jim didn’t get her anything either: -2
Final Score, -4: Yikes, what a remarkably unromantic Valentine’s Day for our pair! On the one hand, Jim missed a prime opportunity. He could have given Pam anything and she would have loved it, it could have even led to a more-than-friendly moment. On the other hand, Jim not “saving the day” for Pam means Pam can’t ignore that Roy, the man she’s suppose to marry in just a few months, completely failed to make her feel special or loved. Although this round of Pam Pong ends with a negative score, if it helps Pam recognize the real problems in her relationship with Roy, it may be good in the long run.