I realize it might seem like I’ve got a major fixation on The Office (the same way it probably seemed like I had Woody Allen on the brain about a month ago), but making a blanket recommendation for a series isn’t really useful for people who’ve never waded into those waters before. So I wanted to recommend a specific episode to check out, and landed on the Season 7 two-parter “Classy Christmas.”
This is really more of a best-of and less something for first-timers, but it showcases all the serie’s various strengths so well that it will still give you a good idea of why The Office is worth the commitment. You’ve got the company Christmas photo, Toby’s jury duty, trashing Woody (see below), the return of Michael’s true love, the outing of Angela’s boyfriend, The Adventures of Jimmy Halpert, a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of Darryl’s custody situation, and some of the best lines in the whole series.
But most importantly, you’ve got Office-veteran writer Mindy Kaling and director Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight) turning the whole Jim/Dwight relationship—which was central to the show—on its head.
I don’t want to give too much away, but Jim’s charms were always lost on me—he struck me as exactly as smug and self-centered as he struck office-temp-turned-corporate-criminal Ryan, who once advised him to give “the whole Jim thing” a rest. So it’s interesting to see dorky Dwight get the upper hand for once—and that’s where most series, eager to hit audience hot buttons and reinforce their prejudices, would have left it.
But not Kaling, Wilson, or the other creative forces behind The Office—and while it’s initially funny to see Jim flinching at his comeuppance, by the time the show’s reached its resolution, you actually find yourself feeling sorry for the guy. And who would have thought that was possible? Plus they were able to push Dwight past his usual cartoon darkness to someplace truly scary.
A lot of the episode is implausible, but enough of it’s emotionally true that you’re willing to give all the cheats and shortcomings a pass. There’s no one best entry point to The Office, but “Classy Christmas” will definitely do.
Michael Gaughn—The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, Wideband, Stereo Review,
Sound & Vision, marketing, product design, a couple TV shows, some commercials, and