Monday, October 20, 2008

Scott on the Office Season 5

[Scott talks about the Office season 5. I would love to get involved in this discussion, but I have not been keeping up with the Office this season -- I figure I will get to it later after there are a good number of them waiting on Hulu. I haven't even seen the newest episode of Pushing Daisies -- that is how busy Sara and I have been. With the wedding the next ten days are likely to be wonk-y for me.]

Some thoughts on tonight's episode of the Office that tie-in to our other Office discussions:

While I can't say that I've been impressed with the overall quality of The Office so far this season (it seems a bit uneven... I can't quite put my finger on it... too much going on... story going in too many directions?), the show continues to impress in its handling of the Jim and Pam relationship. This is mostly because, as Geoff has mentioned, the show continually reminds us of how other shows would have completely messed things up.

In the season premiere, we are given the typical 'hints' that lead to the downfall of a relationship in most (really, every) sit-com: a lack of being able to spend time together, a separation and the introduction of a possible 'other person' who, at the very least, will create jealousy. However, instead of the relationship weakening in this episode, in climaxes with Jim's proposal.

Tonight's episode continued the shows trend of playing against what we're expecting based on our 'training' a la every sit-com romance ever up until this point. Pam and Jim attempt to have phone conversations at a couple of points that fail for one reason or another: Jim can't follow Pam's story because he is unfamiliar with her art school acquaintances, Pam has trouble hearing Jim when he calls her to give her the scoop of Jan's latest visit to the office. At first, we're thinking that the show is trying to tell us that Pam and Jim are drifting apart. Interestingly, the show even plays around with one of its own conventions of Pam, in one of the show's 'confessional' segments, assure us that "this kind of thing is norma and we're just a little out of sync" and that they "would even have off days in Scranton." Now, we have seen on the show many times before that when a character is assuring the audience that they are, in fact, assuring themselves. This leads us to believe that maybe Pam is really troubled by this and that we should also be worried. But just as we're about to groan "Oh, no... not again" to ourselves the show rescues us from our own expectations by showing how 'out-of-sync' Pam and Jim are by having them call each other at the exact same moment only to get the others voicemail. It then shows us that they are, in fact, so 'in synch' that they proceed to have a two-way conversation without ever hearing a word the other is saying.

It was a brilliant moment... and, once again, I was kicking myself for ever doubting the writers could go wrong with this relationship.


burt said...

It is hard to measure the Jim/Pam relationship with any sense of reality, after 5 seasons their union feels nothing but inevitable. Maybe I'm just a bitter Jim/Karen fan but I can't help but feel like the current "Jam" plots are just designed to wring that last bits of "Oh no!" from our hearts.

I don't disagree about the number of plots that seem packed into each episode but I feel the overall show has regained a lot of poise and stride that seemed to be missing last season.

Ultimate Matt said...

Has anyone here ever seen the British version of the show? I was a fan of that before I watched the American version, and I've trained myself to be less critical of it because compared to the original, "our" version is a cartoon version - true to the heart of the show, but stripped of subtlety and with caricatures of the characters.

James said...

Ultimate Matt is a man of taste; a gentleman. An attractive man.

There is no "British version" though, of course. There is The Office, and there is The American Office Workplace Show starring Brick Tamland. And The Office is much, much better.