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TV Review: The Office – Season One

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One of the most refreshing new comedy series on TV, The Office catalogues the inner-workings of a fictional Pennsylvania paper company called Dunder-Mifflin. The name itself alludes to some sort of bureaucratic labyrinth administered by dunderheads, and in reality, it is. Unfortunately, what makes The Office so hilarious is the ability of viewers to relate to the onscreen office culture. The branch office of Dunder-Mifflin viewers are privy to is managed by the politically incorrect, borderline lunatic Michael Scott (Steve Carell). Using twisted logic to set company policy, worn out clichés as a substitute for leadership, and an endless array of corny group activities to lift employee morale, he creates an office atmosphere that makes the career of Dilbert seem desirable in contrast.

Carell, star of the recent box office hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, shines in the role of the nutty and eccentric office manager. His talents are well complimented by Rainn Wilson who plays the part of Michael’s butt-kiss, rule-Nazi lackey, Dwight Schrute. Dwight’s over-the-top antics conflict with the rest of the office, particularly co-worker Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) whom Dwight would like to fire. A charming, unspoken office crush between Jim and Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer) makes for an interesting and recurring subplot. Both Jim and Pam epitomize the remainder of the cast of Dunder-Mifflin employees who come across as logical, well-reasoned, and normal individuals — normal people stuck in a bizarre world where idiots like Michael and Dwight preside over their working hours. Similar in theme to the equally funny feature film Office Space, The Office provides us with a much more excitable Bill Lumbergh lording over an army of Peter Gibbons-like worker bees. For creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who first experienced success with the concept in the UK, it’s a recipe for pure, unadulterated laughter.

The Office (Season 1) DVD features six hilarious episodes including the season premiere in which a camera crew arrives at Dunder-Mifflin in order to film a documentary. Naturally, Michael tries to portray himself as a brilliant steward of office productivity, while office enemies Jim and Dwight engage in a series of desk battles. Viewers also get a glimpse of the regular flirtations between Jim and Pam. Other notable episodes include “Diversity Day” in which Michael engages in a feeble and half-hearted attempt to shed light on office diversity, while alienating most of his employees in the process, and “Health Care” in which Michael, afraid of bearing bad news, delegates his authority to Dwight who creates an utter fiasco of the company health care plan.

Episode List — The Office (Season 1) DVD:

Episode 1 (Pilot) Air Date: 03-24-2005
Episode 2 (Diversity Day) Air Date: 03-29-2005
Episode 3 (Health Care) Air Date: 04-05-2005
Episode 4 (The Alliance) Air Date: 04-12-2005
Episode 5 (Basketball) Air Date: 04-19-2005
Episode 6 (Hot Girl) Air Date: 04-26-2005

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