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The Office - Initial Thoughts

Despite all the effort and fighting involved in setting tapes lately, I've been letting my reality shows roll to tape.  As such, for the past couple of weeks I've had the Office marathons turned on and been half-watching them while at the computer.  I've never watched this show because a) I'm not a big fan of comedies, b) this particular comedy seemed rather cut-and-dried boring, and c) it's in the Gladiator Timeslot, which means it is always beaten out by CSI and/or The O.C. and/or Grey's Anatomy and/or summer reality shows.

But since apparently everyone on the internet watches it, over the months I'd gleaned a few things.  Steve Carell played a central character named Mike, the weird guy's name was Dwight, and there was some often-mentioned character named Jim who was at the center of a national controversy, split along battle lines of which ship you support - Jim/Karen or Jim/Pam.  It also seemed that Kim was canon and Jam was not, although the latter could probably be considered pending, in the manner of Mulder/Scully.  And Pam was played by an extraordinarily lovely and sweet-looking woman named Jenna Fischer, and for that reason alone I figured I would probably fall on the Jam side of things.  If I cared.

Last week I saw about 45 or 50 minutes worth of the block, not consecutively, but last night was the first time I watched two episodes back-to-back the whole way through.  Last week the only storyline I paid attention to was Jim walking out with Karen at the end of the night, and Pam looking kind of forlorn upon seeing it.  Based upon that, and the few ramblings I'd skimmed without context from TV Squad and LJ reviews, my understanding of this whole triangle - and bear in mind that this is based entirely off the impression I got from secondhand internet talk, and never looked up any information on this show - was that Jim and Pam were friends, and had been friends for a long time without ever being a couple, but in the current timeline she liked him a great deal, he was oblivious, and she was too shy to do anything about it, even though she wanted to.

Then last night, I saw an episode involving the Booze Cruise, in which a great many things seemed out of whack.  Karen was nowhere in sight, Jim had brought some random girl I'd never seen (but who was quite cute and likable, despite the fact that over the course of the episode Jim seemed to be losing his obliviousness and realizing he just might want more from Pam) as his date, and then...OMGWTF Pam's engaged?  Has been engaged for three years?  And hey, who is this guy suggesting June 10th for their wedding and PAM WHY ARE YOU KISSING HIM AND LOOKING DELIGHTED?  Because...did I just imagine the part about ten minutes beforehand where you and Jim were up by yourselves on the deck,  in the atmosphere of AWKWARD while making goo-goo eyes over long silences, and making me almost rip my hair out when Jim failed to lean down and kiss you even though he had a giant sign over his head saying "*LOVES PAM*" and you had a giant sign over your head saying "NOW ACCEPTING KISSES"?
V: I think you did imagine the signs.
RS: Bah. 

I know I should just look up show canon and figure out what's going on and how chronology works here, but...I'm lazy.  And I like confusing myself with mystery. 

So, on that note, I can see without a doubt that Jim and Pam would clearly be perfect for one another.  I've seen Karen, like, three times, and my main impression of her is that she's bossy, snippy, probably controlling and emotionally stunted.  While Jim strikes me as quite reserved and sweet (though also surprisingly clever; I can't remember exactly what convinced me of that fact but I'm pretty sure he's the smartest person there), Karen has Ice Queen Corporate Warrior written all over her.  No-no, that doesn't work at all.  Jim and Pam, on the other hand, are perfectly alike.  They would be the sweetest couple ever, like little puppies - *gasps* Yes!  They're my new Puppy Love Ship!  Oh, man, ever since Hodgins and Angela lost the title, I've been feeling empty.  I'm glad there's finally an innocent pair to replace them.
 
For the record, Jim and Pam make up 90% of the appeal of this show, and I see very little need to dwell on anything else.  However, for the sake of history, my other/overall impressions are as follows:

-I love the theme song, and the cute little sign for Scranton - it makes this show seem like it has so much charm and character.  This is not entirely true, but still, I could get lost in the theme song.

-I cannot get through fifteen seconds of Dwight's screentime without wanting to stab him with a very sharp implement.  I HATE weird, eccentric characters.  HATE HATE HATE WITH A FIERY BURNING PASSION.

-Michael is decidedly delusional, but he's less weird that Dwight and a lot more attractive, so he kind of amuses me.  Comic relief is good, considering that this is a comedy.

-Wait, it's a comedy??  *squints* Are you sure?  Because I only laughed, like, twice.  In fact, if you got rid of Dwight, and changed  a couple of aspects that I'll be talking about below, it could easily be turned into a 1-hour drama.  Hey, aren't they planning some hour-long episodes next season?  Interesting.

-If there are other characters, I didn't notice, and as far as I can tell that's not important.  Except possibly for B.J. Novak.  I can't get over the fact that he looks just like Maxine Gray's boss on "Judging Amy," and therefore cannot believe him in this role.  Whatever that role is.

-The main thing that bugs me, and why I will not watch this show on a regular basis: the talking-to-the-camera bits.  I despise that.  Who the hell are they talking to?  This is not a documentary, nor is it a reality show with a video diary.  It's a scripted television show, and as such, I want to see it from a removed third-person perspective, and either draw my own conclusions or have things explored through actual conversations.  It really jolts me out of the fantasy of the fictional world when the characters are suddenly looking at me.

-I know absolutely nothing about filming techniques or what they're called, I just know when things look weird and different than they usually do on film.  This show does something weird that makes it look like this is the film class project of college students.  Come to think of it, sometimes it feels like the characters are just the students' friends, reciting lines to help out with the project.  That bugs, too. 

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
muzzy_olorea
Jun. 29th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
You caved, you caved! I knew you would oh-fellow-watcher-of-awesome-shows.

- Pam/Jim is the main appeal for me too but the more you watch, the more you grow to love the other characters.

- I didn't want to watch at first as I rarely find comedy shows funny. I watched it from the Pilot through to the Season 3 finale in order and after the first few episode of Season 1 I was really wondering whether I should carry on watching or not but I'm really glad that I did.

- It's filmed in that student-project like way on purporse to emphasise the fact it's meant to be documentary-like.

- Dwight really bugged me a lot at the start (I think I wrote a post about that and everyone replied with 'Dwight's really cool etc.'). Now he's less annoying.

- I really recommend, if you ever could, watching it chronologically. It will make you hate Karen less and like the less important characters more.

- There are funny episodes but not every episode is consecutively funny. It's more about the storylines than the comedy for me

- If you want to find out the Jim/Pam story then I could tell you. There's a couple of episodes at the end of Season 3 in which dislike of Karen is justified but seriously as the third person in the relationship once you watch the episodes in order, I'm sure you won't hate her.

- PAM ROCKS!
rainbowstevie
Jun. 29th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
Dwight will never not be annoying. Just like Mark Sloan will never not be annoying. I'm making a declaration of it. The other characters still have a chance, though.

I've only half-caved. Full cave-in doesn't come unless I start watching this show in the fall lineup, which I refuse to do. Unless NBC streams it. If NBC streams it, then I'm helpless. Crap, I did cave.

I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell of me watching it chronologically. I know other people have this mysterious knowledge of downloading, but I'm rather leery of anything that requires downloading an additional program, so I'm not inclined to try and find out. I think I will try reading episode reviews in chronological order, though; that's almost as good for learning, and then actually getting to see one on the air will be my treat.

There are funny episodes but not every episode is consecutively funny. It's more about the storylines than the comedy for me.
Yep, I was getting that sense. I don't think that's a bad thing, I was just hoping that I could find something to lighten my mood in the midst of my drama-heavy weekly lineup.
muzzy_olorea
Jun. 30th, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
I don't find Mark Sloan annoying actually. I mean I really didn't like him when he first appeared but now I don't find him more irritating than anyone else. Actually I prefer him to Alex at the moment.

I download ALL the shows I watch through LJ communities and you don't need to download another program (like you do with torrents). Very kind people upload them to filesharing sites like Megaupload and it's safe to download etc.

The things I find funny are the funny moments they put in dramas. Like some House/Wilson interaction or Houseisms on 'House' or the occasional funny moment on 'Bones'.

Anyway, I do hope you give 'The Office' a chance. I'm glad I did. Maybe you could rent the Season 1 and Season 2 DVDs. Season 2 is better than Season 3 anyway so don't base your decision on Season 3!
poinsley
Jun. 29th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
Ok, your confusion about Booze Cruise stems from it being from the second season. Karen first came around in the third season. Basically, Jim had a big thing for Pam the first two seasons, while she was engaged to Roy. They kissed at the end of season 2, but Pam was like, this can't happen. Jim transfered to Stamford, where he met Karen. Pam canceled the wedding. Eventually, the Stamford and Scranton branches of the company were combined, and Jim and Karen came to Scranton as a couple. Pam started getting jealous. So a bit of a role swap from the first two seasons. Perhaps the episodes you saw of Karen gave a bad impression, but I actually don't have a problem with her. She didn't know about the whole Jim/Pam history until after they started dating, and Jim assured her there was nothing there. Pam wasn't the nicest person to Karen at time either.

Back in the first two seasons, I was a big supporter of Jim and Pam getting together. But I didn't have a problem with Karen. I did have a problem with how Jim would treat Karen and Pam (he was a bit of a dick this season in some regards). And he (from how the editing showed it) apparently ditched Karen in NYC (after they carpooled there) to run back to Scranton and ask Pam out. My issues were with the whole ditching, the apparent lack of breaking up with Karen, etc. Granted, there may have been something they just didn't show, but it came off badly. Not that I wouldn't want Jim and Pam to get together eventually, but his relationship was just handled so badly on his part, and Karen didn't deserve that.

The times they talk to the camera - basically, this show is supposed to be a documentary to be aired at a TBD date. I don't think they have aired yet in their world. But since it would be aired, so to speak, the documentary people interview everyone about what happens.
rainbowstevie
Jun. 29th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
Foolish Office marathon organizers! Everyone knows you don't show summer repeats in the show's normal-season timeline of anything except the just-aired season!

Thanks for the mini-recap, though. It's usually more helpful to hear a summary from a friend rather than trying to piece together offical summaries and mainstream reviews and the like so that helped. I suspect I will need to watch a lot more episodes before I can make an informed decision on whether or not I like Karen. To be honest, I don't see how I could get much better than "ambivalent," but I've been known to make 180 degree spins on characters before.

Oh, and I didn't know the part about the documentary. That makes more sense, in context, although I still don't like it.
poinsley
Jun. 29th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I didn't know the part about the documentary. That makes more sense, in context, although I still don't like it.

It made more sense in the original series, which was just 12 episodes, plus a Christmas special (in which the original documentary already aired and some repercussions were felt). With the American version, they were really careful at the beginning, but they've gotten lazy lately about making it true to the documentary idea. Sure, the camera angles are still there, as well as the interviews, but some shots are just...not really possible.

Though if this goes on further, you have to wonder if they are going to address the showing of the documentary soon. It was ok, like I said, in the original because there wasn't much. But three+ years of material? That's a lot. But I'm thinking too much about a tv show, I should stop, haha.

I feel for Karen because I was in a very similar situation before and know how much it sucks to be in that position.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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