Casino Night – 10 Years Later

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:

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EW.com talked to episode director Ken Kwapis about filming these watershed scenes for Jim & Pam.

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.

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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.

GIF links: (1st set)(2nd set)

Random Polls: Not so great episodes Pt 2

tumblr_inline_ny778izGsz1r5estg_500The Office ended it’s US run with around 200 episodes, most of them great, but a handful not so much so. Be it lack of plot progression, ridiculous antics, or just downright not funny, here are some episodes that probably are going to get skipped during Office binges.

How did I get this list – 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 4 (since it was a shortened season) and the bottom three from Seasons 5 and 6. Go to the bottom of the post to vote!

Survivor Man ep 407
If this episode feels a little out of place at all, it’s probably due to the fact that it was part of NBC’s environmentally themed “Green Week”. Michael running off to the woods and trying to “rough it” is a bit out there, even for Michael (though it’s certainly in character that he fails miserably and is back at the office by quitting time). The antics back at Dunder Mifflin are more amusing and more Office-y, though it could be argued that this is the unfortunate beginning of Jim’s “de-evolution” from a likable underachiever with lots of potential to a middle manager constantly teetering on the edge of incompetence. (The “longing for more than Dunder Mifflin” character arc he was on this season is all-but-abandoned after this episode, though it will fittingly return in the last season)
Saving Grace: the communal birthday montage is pretty great, and I always enjoy Jim and Michael’s heart-to-hearts.

Night Out ep 411
What makes The Office unique is it’s about average (albeit quirky) people in an average mid-sized town, not about fashionable party-goers in a big city. Which is probably why the “Dwight and Michael go clubbing in NYC” part of the episode doesn’t feel like The Office at all. The antics at the office are better, even if it’s not well explained why the gates are locked when the staff has stayed late before, nor is Toby caressing Pam’s knee ever really followed up on (though him jumping the fence is hilarious).
Saving Grace: Before you have time to process how out of character it is for Dwight to be making out with a blonde college basketball player, you’ll be laughing at everyone’s simultaneous “Ew” when Michael texts them all the picture.

Baby Shower ep 504
In the Season 4 finale, Jan reappears pregnant and Michael decides to be a part of the pregnancy despite the fact that Jan went to a sperm donor (while she a Michael were together, no less!) I don’t know if Melora Hardin (Jan) had another gig, or if the audience wasn’t responding well the story line, but in this episode it very much feels Jan is getting the boot by having her have the baby without Michael and then having her act really aloof towards everyone (and just downright mean to Holly) when she comes in for the baby shower. After this episode we won’t see her again until season 7. Dwight stress-testing Jan’s expensive stroller is amusing but also kind of a dick move.
Saving Grace: Michael asking Holly out and Jim and Pam leaving each other perfectly in-sync messages about feeling out of sync are a nice, sweet end to an otherwise meh episode.

Moroccan Christmas ep 511
Expectations were high since there was no Season 4 Christmas episode, and Season 2 and 3’s were both stellar. Sadly this episode just doesn’t deliver. Meredith’s intervention and Phyllis blackmailing Angela would have been fine plot lines separately but paired together it makes this episode, as Kelly says, “kind of a drag”. Add in Toby pathetically trying to buy the season’s hottest doll for his daughter and Andy performing a sitar version of “Deck the Halls” blissfully unaware that his fiancee Angela is cheating on him and we end up with a Christmas episode with almost zero Christmas cheer.
Saving Grace: The cold open with Dwight’s Christmas wrapped desk is a classic Jim-prank. Also Michael knowing the “Princess Unicorn” jingle just cracks me up for some reason.

Prince Family Paper ep 513
When Michael’s sent to get intel on a local competitor, he faces a moral dilemma as Dunder Mifflin is primed to drive the small family paper company (run by the nicest people in the world) out of business. In the end, Michael turns the info he gathered over to CFO David Wallace, and really that move alone pushs this from a perfectly fine episode to a not-so-great one; family is very important to Michael and it’s rather out-of-character for him to knowingly hurt a family like that. The office’s debate over if Hilary Swank is hot-or-not is funny initially but goes on for way too long.
Saving Grace: Jim’s “mysterious red wire” prank on Dwight is hilarious, as is Stanley’s impassioned speech about the hotness of Hilary Swank.

Mafia ep 606
In this episode’s defense, it’s the episode after “Niagara” (aka “Jim and Pam get married”) so already the deck was stacked against it. Oscar gets accidentally meta when he talks about the balance of “sane and others” being thrown off by Jim and Pam being gone on their honeymoon, because that’s the exact problem of this episode. Without Jim’s reason and Pam’s reassurance, Michael ends up getting most of his advice on how to handle a pushy insurance salesman from Andy and Dwight, and things quickly veer from “amusing” to “ridiculous”.
Saving Grace: Jim pretending his phone’s cutting out as he gives advice to Michael is pretty hilarious.

Scott’s Tots ep 612
Ten years ago, Michael foolishly promised a class of 3rd graders he’d pay their college tuition, now the class is ready to graduate high school and of course Michael can’t fulfill his promise. Usually it’s uncomfortably funny to watch Michael get into situations he can’t gracefully get out of, but in this episode it’s just uncomfortable to watch all the young dreams get dashed because of Michael’s cowardice. The other plot line isn’t much better as Dwight’s complicated plan to get father-to-be Jim fired is rather mean-spirited, even for Dwight.
Saving Grace: Michael and Erin’s heart-to-heart towards the end is pretty sweet.

Banker ep 614
It’s almost unfair to count “The Banker” as an episode since it’s a clip show. There is some original footage and an attempt at a plot; Dunder Mifflin is about to be sold and a banker comes in to assess the company. Then cue a series of clip montages about work accidents, Jim’s pranks, office romances, etc. It would have been fine as an internet/DVD feature, or a “special” immediately followed by a new episode, but as a stand-alone episode, it understandably left fans unsatisfied and not smiling.
Saving Grace: Michael trying to impress the banker at the beginning is amusing, and Jim and Pam’s montage is sweet (even if the average JAM fanvid has better editing IMHO)

There we are, the most mediocre of episodes from seasons 4-6. Now it’s time to vote! Please select which of these was the worst of Seasons 4 though 6. If your least favorite is not in the list, go ahead and list it in “Other” (make sure it’s from these seasons! There is a poll for seasons 1 to 3 already, and 7-9 will be posted later!)

Random Poll: Not-So-Great Episodes Pt 1

hqdefaultWith 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!)

Flonkerton (Re)Opening Ceremonies

Flonkerton (Re)Opening Ceremonies

I’ll be back. And I am back! For gooooooood!

After barely updating this site for . . . a number of years I’ve decided to return and continue working on my recaps and maybe post some other fun things. Why? I can’t really say, perhaps because 2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of our beloved show starting, or maybe because thanks to Netflix I can watch any episode any time, or just because I still love this dang show so much.

I will now plug along with my recaps and Pam Pong score cards that hopefully some will read and enjoy. The Office finished with about 200 or so episodes, which is a pretty daunting total so for right now my goal is to recap through Season 3. A Random Poll or an Office Mystery post may slip in once in a while, and I welcome any ideas (I know for sure I will be doing an update of what is still by far my most popular post, The Evolution of Jim’s Hair).

So, old friends and new lovers, welcome (back) to Flonkerton! Let the games commence!