Friday, February 03, 2006

Valentine's Day on "The Office"

Last night's "The Office" was not the Valentine's Day episode, though it was one of the better shows this season. Michael's boss Jan (a recent divorcee with whom he had a drunken tryst after a successful sales meeting at Chili's on a previous episode) comes to the office to conduct a seminar exclusively with the female staff. Michael just can't leave them alone -- and Jan banishes him from the office when he starts his own men-only meeting outside the female-filled conference room.

The men go to the warehouse, where Michael gets the idea of forging a white/blue-collar dialogue, during which he nearly destroys the downstairs part of Dunder-Mifflin with a forklift. In the middle of this, warehouse worker Roy, longtime fiance of receptionist Pam, confronts Jim, longtime admirer from much closer than afar of Pam, about what everyone at the company now knows of as Jim's "crush" on her. Roy assures Jim that he's "cool" with the seemingly former crush, and he appreciates Jim's friendship with Pam because all the talking the "Office"-mates do during the day saves Roy from having to do it at night.

In the middle of all this, the warehouse workers realize that the upstairs employees make much more money then they do, and they think things can be made right by forming a union, and they bully Michael -- who's pretty much wrecked the warehouse with the forklift mishap -- into meekly supporting (or at least not opposing) them. Upstairs, in Jan's women's seminar, she tells the "documentary" crew (whose interviews are part of every "Office" episode) that one of the purposes of her meeting is to scout for potential female executives. So she asks the women what their hopes and dreams are, and when Pam says she loves art and graphic design, Jan tells her that Dunder-Mifflin offers a graphics training program at Corporate in New York. The usually meek Pam finds reasons why she can't do it, but the hard-charging Jan convinces her to seriously consider it.

When Michael informs Jan (during the women's seminar, of course) about the unionization effort, she tells him to deal with it, but knowing he cannot, she goes down to the warehouse herself and lays it all out: Forming a union will mean one thing -- the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin will be closed down, and everybody will be out of a job, simple as that.

Back upstairs, the camera sees Roy and Pam through glass, and we see (but don't hear) Roy convince her that nothing will come of her going to New York for the graphics training program. When Pam talks to the "documentary" crew, she has an emotional moment over the dreams she is deferring.

Along with this Pam's other deferred dream, her non-relationship with Jim. He confronts her about passing on the New York training program and whether she wants to be a receptionist forever, but what's really at issue here is the chance they are not taking in terms of pursuing a relationship together (which means she'd have to dump fiance Roy, and she's not the breaking-up or rocking-the-boat type). While Jim pushes Pam to do what she really wants, he can't bring himself to lay it on the line and tell Pam that he is, in fact, in love with her.

So it was an emotional episode, probably one of the best of the series so far. And it sets up next week's Valentine's Day show. Here's the description from NBC:

VALENTINE'S DAY 9:30pm 2006-02-09 ALL NEW!
'THE OFFICE' GOES ON LOCATION TO NYC -- When Michael (Golden Globe nominee Steve Carell) visits Dunder Mifflin corporate headquarters in New York on Valentine's Day, he and Jan (Melora Hardin) are both in for a surprise. Meanwhile, back in Scranton, the office staff celebrates Valentine's Day grade school style. Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, B.J. Novak and Rainn Wilson also star. TV-14

Go to Ilene's blog for more "The Office" fun, including pictures from next week's episode and a tribute to Dwight Schrute, Scranton's No. 1 beet-growing paper salesman.

In case you need to catch up (and I've probably missed a couple of these myself), season one of "The Office" is on DVD. And in case I haven't mentioned it, "The Office" -- yes, the American version -- is the best show on television, period.

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