Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bears, Beets, and Battlestar Galactica

Up until just a few years ago, I was never a huge "fan" of any television show.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I had my favorites growing up...Home Improvement, Boy Meets World, Family Matters, The Wonder Years, and more recently Family Guy and Justified, which I watch religiously.  But, I never got involved with a series.  I never connected to the characters in a way that made me truly feel like I was a part of the story.

I mean, I'll watch reruns of Friends occasionally when I'm bored, but I couldn't have cared less about what happened between Ross and Rachel, and I wasn't one of the millions of people tuned in to watch the series finale.

I didn't really understand all of the hullabaloo about how The Sopranos series finale ended in mid-sentence.  In all honesty, I've never seen a full episode of the show (HBO is expensive).

But, this spring when NBC finally pulls the plug on The Office, I will be watching.  Just as I've done every other Thursday night for the past 6 years.  I can honestly say, without question, I will have watched that entire series from beginning to end (yes, I was a couple of seasons behind, but I watched the first two seasons in three days in preparation for the third season premiere).  And despite the hours of syndicated reruns you can find every week on TBS and Fox, I will still be genuinely saddened when the show goes off the air. 

There is something inherently joyful about watching The Office, even when the storyline in a particular episode is a sad one.  I always feel like I'm watching my own life (in some strange, not really at all similar way) unfold from episode to episode.  I see quirky little similarities between Jim and Pam and Adrienne and I.  I know what it's like to work for a boss that is a complete and utter moron.  And I know how it feels to go to work everyday, genuinely despising every second you're there.  That connection with the characters on the show, mixed with the hilarious scenarios that play out, always leaves me smiling even if I've seen the episode a dozen times.

I think the main reason I fell in love with the show was the way the characters developed, especially early on in the series.  Dwight Schrute went from being an eccentric, almost alien-like freak, to an eccentric and very strange human that cared about other people, even if he had an odd way of showing it.  As popular as Jim Halpert is on the show (everybody likes him, except for Dwight), if I worked with a guy like that, I would want to hate him so badly, but would end up being friends with him.  In the early seasons, Jim was a lazy, wise-cracking douche bag that got credit for essentially doing nothing, but he was so cool and laid back and friendly that it was easy to overlook the other stuff.  I began rooting for him and Pam by the second episode of the show.

And then there's Michael Scott...The bumbling, uncouth, painfully awkward idiot of a boss that you just cannot help but love/despise/feel incredibly sorry for.  I really don't think there's ever been a character in a television show that inspired so many conflicting emotions as Michael Scott did throughout his run on the show.  Despite the attention the Pam and Jim storyline received (for good reason), Michael Scott was always (and even now that he's gone, still is) the star of the show.  There have been instances where you wanted to crawl into the scene and give him a hug, times you wanted to punch him in the face for being so offensive and stupid, and times where you genuinely had trouble watching (despite knowing it is fiction) because something was so painfully awkward.  Just as one example...From literally hundreds to choose from...

When Michael Scott left the show in the 7th season, it definitely lost it's luster.  Michael Scott had been a constant since the pilot episode, and was the driving force behind every storyline the writers chose to pursue.  The humor, awkwardness and the real, human elements that made the show so fun to watch for so long was embodied by Michael Scott.  And while the show still remains entertaining to a degree, when Michael Scott left Dunder-Mifflin to move to Colorado, the show should have quit too.

Despite the lackluster storylines that have followed the gut-wrenching departure of Michael (I literally almost cried watching that episode), I'm still looking forward to the 9th and final season that premieres tomorrow night.  Although Kelly and Toby will no longer be on the show, I'm interested to see how they tie up all the loose ends.  Will Angela and Dwight finally end up together once she comes to grips with the fact her husband the senator is gay?  Will David Wallace buy Dunder-Mifflin and put Sabre (and Robert California) totally out of business?  How long will Andy and Erin last?  Are Pam and Jim going to move onto greener pastures?  And...For the love of God...Are they going to bring back Michael Scott for the finale?  I guess I'm just really hoping for a good ending.

My Top 5 Office Episodes:

5. "Dunder-Mifflin Infinity"--Dunder-Mifflin launches a new website making it easier for customers to buy paper.  Michael believes in good, old-fashioned, personable service and goes to great lengths (hand delivering baskets of food) to win back old clients.

4. "Niagara"--Jim and Pam's long and tumultuous courtship finally culminates in their destination wedding at Niagara Falls.  Michael spills the beans about Pam's pregnancy in front of her grandmother at the rehearsal dinner, Andy has to get stitches after injuring area, and Dwight seduces a bridesmaid.

3. "Weight Loss"--Probably the most anticipated episode I remember.  The Season 5 opener let us finally witness Jim pop the question to Pam in a rain-soaked gas station parking lot.  Meanwhile, Dunder-Mifflin participates in a company-wide weight loss initiative, and Kelly uses a diet of water, lemon juice, and maple syrup to try and lose the most weight.

2. "The Job"--In the Season 3 finale, Michael assumes he will be hired for a job that opens at corporate, and holds a Survivor-like contest at Lake Scranton to find his replacement for manager of the Scranton branch.  Jim and Karen (who are dating at the time) also interview for the job.  After Jim's interview, he drives back to Scranton (leaving Karen in New York) and asks newly-single Pam on a date.

1. "The Dinner Party"--Arguably the greatest episode of any TV show in the history of mankind...Michael, after dozens of failed attempts, finally tricks Jim and Pam into coming over to his house for a dinner party.  The rocky relationship between he and Jan comes to a boiling point at the party...Jan thinks Pam has a thing for Michael, Michael tries to get Andy and Jim to invest in Jan's scented-candle company, and Jan and Michael explode in an argument culminating in the police being called.  The painful awkardness that makes the show so fantastic is on full, genius display throughout this classic episode.

1 comment:

  1. Again, I'm really glad you're marrying my sister.

    I have loved The Office since episode 1, and like you, I'm looking forward to this final season(even if they past couple of seasons haven't been as strong).