Cliff was right about The Office
Its a pretty rare night that I'm both home and bored enough to watch network TV. Happens maybe once a month. This is why, even though my buddy Cliff kept talking about how awesome The Office was, and how I was crazy for not watching it, and how he bought every episode for his iPod, I never watched it. Remembering to set the VCR to record something requires effort. And remembering. But mostly effort.
Then I got a DVR in December, and started haphazardly telling it to record all episodes of all sorts of things. The Daily Show? That's funny...record it every time its on! Late Night with Conan in HD? Yes please! Saturday Night Live? You bet! And on and on it went, until the hard drive was always so full it would delete shows before I could watch them. This would routinely leave me with a DVR full of Rocky IV and Rambo: First Blood Part Two, because I'd foolishly told it to record these movies every time they're on and well, they're on every weekend. Sometime after the first of the year, when NBC moved both shows to Thursday back-to-back, I told the DVR to start recording My Name Is Earl and The Office. Often times I'd watch them on Sunday afternoons, when I had nothing else going on and could watch three or four at once.
While The Office was funny, I liked Earl better. So inevitably there would be four or five weeks worth of Offices on the DVR unwatched, waiting for room to run out and automatic deletion.
One Sunday about three weeks ago, it was cold and rainy, and I watched all of them in one sitting. While there were some hilarious moments, there was nothing that would scream out "this is the funniest show on TV" or even "this is worth continuing to DVR".
Then came last week.
Its pretty rare for a show to make "The Leap". In most cases, a show is either genius or run-of-the-mill from the start, and that's where it stays. Ratings, impatience of network execs, and the general fluidity of network TV schedules all conspire to work against run-of-the-mill shows. Every once in a great while, a previously ordinary show takes The Leap to Pantheon status. For every Cheers that was hilarious from the get-go, there's a Seinfeld that got out of the gates slow.
Seinfeld had almost two full seasons before it found itself. When Jerry, Elaine and George spent an entire episode waiting for a table at The Chinese Restaurant, the show took The Leap and never looked back.
I would argue that The Office took The Leap last week with Conflict Resolution.
In one 22-minute episode, I laughed harder and took to quoting more lines from a single television episode than any in years. Hell, my brother and I have been dropping quotes back and forth ever since last Thursday, and that's something we usually do with a movie -- but not with a TV show since Seinfeld ended its run almost 10 years ago.
"It's my wedding. And I don't want anyone there who has called me a hussy."
"Oh! What is on your face? Is that a disguise? Clown paint!"
"I never smile if I can help it. Showing one's teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life."
"This is so much more offensive to me than hardcore porno..."
"Security in this office park is a joke. Last year, I came to work with my spud gun in a duffel bag. I sat at my desk all day, with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?"
"In this office, it is till death do us part. Assuming that we don't get downsized."
And then there was the classic scene where Michael is reading conflicts out loud to the entire office, and this exchange takes place:
Michael: How about the Phyllis/Angela dispute.
Angela: You already did me.
Michael (with Jim mouthing the words to the camera simultaneously): That's what she said.
The timing, just impeccible. I had to rewind the DVR six times to keep watching that scene before it ceased to be hilarious, and even then, it was only slightly less so.
"Someone complained that the men's room is whites only. Stanley, you know that's not true...
Creed: Then why is there a picture of a white man on the door?"
"I don't like you."
"Okay, Ryan, you told Toby that Creed has a distinct old man smell?
I know exactly what he's talking about. I sprout mung beans on a damp paper towel in my desk drawer. Very nutritious, but they smell like death."
"This is humongous. I am not a security threat. And my middle name is Kurt, not Fart."
"Cage matches? Yeah, they work. How could they not work? If they didn't work, everybody would still be in the cage."
And then there's the List of Greivances filed by Dwight against Jim Halpert. Good lord. A sampling:
-Putting more and more nickels into his phone handset all day long until he got used to the weight, and then when he took them out, he whacked himself in the head with the suddenly lighter phone.
-Putting a bloody glove in his desk drawer and trying to convince him he killed someone.
-Moving his desk an inch closer to the bathroom every time he got up, until it was right next to the door.
All of that in one episode, and I haven't even mentioned the photoshopped office photo, with ridiculously proportioned heads pasted on bodies.
Time will tell if the show had one great week, or if it has indeed taken The Leap. I hope for the latter, and suspect Thursday's season finale will tell us which direction the show is going.
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