The Office: Deciphering Greatness
The Office: Deciphering Greatness
The Office. What is there left to write about? Really. How many ways are there to say "really funny?" To reiterate my feelings: The Office is the best comedy on TV. It may also be the best show on TV. Period. On a week-to-week basis, there is no show I look forward to more. In fact, I haven't eagerly anticipated anything on TV like I do The Office since the heyday of Seinfeld. Given this fact, that The Office is consistently hilarious, what can we discuss? Well, there is the Jim and Pam relationship. The "drama" of The Office. Which, for a comedy, is rare. Significant, weighty story lines are few and far between in popular, prime-time comedies. Complex and interesting relationships are even more desolate in the comedy landscape, which is why the Jim and Pam story is invigorating and, yet, sometimes jarring.
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Last night's episode revolved around Michael throwing dueling Bachelor/Bachelorette parties for the upcoming Phyllis and Bob Vance wedding. There was a "kind of" hot female stripper with a less than enthusiastic crowd, a sleazy Benjamin Franklin impersonator, a tearful confession of guilt from Michael to Jan, and then there was the Jim and Pam story. Jim and Pam scenes, while they can be funny, have an undeniably different tone from the rest of the show. I don't how it can be described, except "real." The mix of the documentary style filming, the on-the-surface inanity of the conversations, and the complexity of the relationship just make the entire dynamic eminently plausible. I feel for these people and, more importantly, I feel like I know these people. And, to think that this sort of character piece lies in the middle of the funniest show on TV, well, it's unprecedented. And, please, don't cite me Ross and Rachel (or even Sam and Diane), whose interactions never surpassed the sitcom-y melodrama that comes with the territory. (And, of course, David Schwimmer sucks.) There is no melodrama on The Office. There are no plot contrivances. There are no gimmicks. The beauty of The Office is in its methodical, intricate pace. Whole episodes will revolve around a minor, seemingly innocuous event. This allows the characters to speak in an intimate manner. A character on Friends (or any normal sitcom) is forced to speak with practical dialogue, filled with set-ups, punchlines and exposition. The Office has no use for such devices. Much of the Jim and Pam accolades deserve to go to the actors themselves. I don't praise actors a whole lot here on BuddyTV, mostly because I don't know a whole hell of a lot about acting. Comedic acting, especially, seems to be a terribly difficult thing to do, especially well. You really have to throw yourself out there and have preternatural faith in both yourself and the material. The normal route for comedic actors on television is to go "big", to oversell the material. Not on The Office. Jenna Fischer's portrayal of Pam Beasley is an impeccable lesson in restraint. For an actor, I can't imagine the discipline it takes to hold back, day after day. John Krasinski's Jim, as well, does a great job of keeping his character in check. When have you ever seen these two characters loud and excitable? Their characters are pretty beaten down by life, and their laid-back mannerisms reflects that. Their performances ground the show and create the perfect balancing act to oppose Steve Carrell's Michael Scott. I'm searching for more ways to praise The Office. I may be running out. The most concise way I can put it is that The Office continues to amaze me. The deeper you dig into what feels like a simple execution of a simple premise, the more the mixture of elements smacks you in the head, making you realize just how complex, unique and, in the end, hysterical The Office is. -Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer


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