The Carl Online

Review: The Office 05.01 (Spoiler Alert) by Alex Sciuto
September 30, 2008, 4:09 am
Filed under: TV

This past Thursday, NBC premiered the first episode of season five of The American Office (I know, I know. By now saying The Office automatically signifies the North American version, but remember back a few years ago? When saying The Office meant Ricky Gervais?). I don’t think there are too many people out there who aren’t biased in favor of the show and I’m certainly not one of them, but I really enjoyed the show. I constantly wonder how they’ll keep the plots interesting, but by now I trust the writing quality enough that I tuck the fear that the show has jumped the shark in the back of my head.

I’ll try not to give away any spoilers here. The aspect of the show that I enjoyed most was the renewed attention to the central conceit of a documentary inside a television show. The choice to cover the summer in the form of vignettes with week long spaces of time in-between “tapings” of the documentary was particularly well done. Without it the surprise of Michael Scott (or Dwight) growing a goatee would have been impossible. I also liked the large amount of shaky and/or surreptitious filming. Often times, like when Michael fell down the stairs as the cameraman chased after him, what the camera missed or barely caught was made so much more poignant precisely because it wasn’t meant for film. <BIG SPOILER ALERT>Of course the conceit was best used in the most touching scene from the episode when Jim proposes to Pam. Not only did the surreptitious filming allow us to see a genuinely private moment (fictionally genuinely private, but still), but the location of the camera, across the street catching the whole view of the gas station, really nicely framed the scene. It was a gentle reminder to the viewer that what the audience viewed as such a special act was in fact normal. This knowledge, for me, instead of cheapening Jim and Pam’s sentiments, really made the entire highway/gas station seem like a magical and memorable place.

The one area that I questioned the believability of the writing was with Dwight and how the audience should relate to him. When he broke up with Angela, his pain and alienation forged a sincere relationship between him and the viewer, one that mostly bypassed Rainn Wilson’s caricature of the Dwight as office fascist. The writers synthesized those two Dwights making reasonable how his pain led to the fascism. I’m not sure how the writers want me to connect the socially incompetent, completely unsubtle Dwight, with the Dwight who is constantly sneaking off with Angela to hook-up in the warehouse. Not that I’m complaining, it’s funny, but it’s just a little thing that’s bothering me.

So bravo BJ Novak and all the other writers. I like it.

-Alex Sciuto


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Oh wow, what a website! What beautiful muted blues, what clever gradients. And ode, a testament to the ingenuity that is the Carl Staff.

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