Those who know me best know that I’m prone to ranting about things. Perhaps the only thing I do more than ranting, is rambling. It may not be interesting to you, but it is to me - so shut up and listen. I’m an interesting fella. This column will serve to bring you inside of my head. Whatever I’m thinking about on a given day and feel like writing, I will place within the cozy confines of this series of articles. So kick back and let’s get into it.
The Top Five Episodes of…
“The Office” is my favorite show. I could talk about it forever. In fact, I plan to. Those in my life are painfully aware of my affection for this marvel of a series. So as of today, these are my top five favorite episodes*.
*list subject to, and quite frankly will, change
Season 5 Episode 25
One thing that will become quickly apparent is that I’m a big believer in Michael Scott. Not just because he’s hilarious, but because he’s the definition of “clutch.” Perhaps not “clutch” in a traditional timing sense; traditional clutch people seize the opportunity and come up big at the appropiate time. Michael waits two or three measures beyond that. But when it’s time to come up big, he delivers (see S2E7 “The Client). “Broke” is one of Michael’s shining moments. After betting big on himself and opening his own paper supply company…
…Michael finds himself financially on the verge of breakdown. His prices are so low that he has taken away a number of Dunder Mifflin’s biggest clients. However, it’s his low prices that are putting him out of business. It’s the classic catch-22 that small businesses face, and it threatens to derail not only Michael, but Pam as well - the lone comrade willing to walk away from Dunder Mifflin. The episodes plays like a race against time, as Michael and Co. need to keep up appearances long enough for former boss David Wallace to propose a proper buyout of The Michael Scott Paper Company. Wallace has no idea they are broke, and is desperate to get the clients they stole back. Time for Michael to shine!
Season 9 Episode 24
There’s not much to say about this one. How do you wrap up nine years of magic, that touched so many and held such importance? Not only did “Finale” do that, it achieved all of that and then some. We see the culmination of the Dwight and Angela romance, get closure on Jim and Pam’s marital troubles, and even get a surprise visit from an old friend. Even the lesser charcters are given brief moments to shine. There are multiple “burst into tears” moments held within this episode. I dare anyone to have a dry eye with the final…
And Erin’s parents? Forget about it! The episode ultimately wraps up with a trio of super poingnant sentiments by Andy, Pam, and Creed respectively. Relive all three right here…
#3: “The Dundies”
Season 2 Episode 1
I feel God in this Chili’s tonight. Do you?
One of the most apparent things to first time bingers of “The Office” is the seismic shift that occurs between seasons one and two. Season one sticks pretty close to the Brit original, and it’s great. However, “The Dundies” represents everything that “The Office” would become - a line in the proverbial sand - a new way of presenting these characters. Thus, “The Office” became legendary.
Aside from the importance to the show’s tone and legacy, “The Dundies” also functions as one of the series’ funniest episodes. Michael’s parody songs. Drunk Pam. The hilarious awards categories. I won’t lie - I always wish my places of employment would have a Dundies of their own. I’m often curious what category I would win in. This episode also provided us with this seemingly innocent / not-so-innocent first…
Lastly, the one subtle thing I have always loved about this episode is below. The look on Pam’s face during this talking head segment. It’s drunk desire. Her inhibitions are lowered, and she wants to let go of every feeling she has been bottling up for Jim. The moment is humorously undercut by drunk Pam falling off of her stool, and Dwight attempting to come to her rescue.
#2: ‘Booze Cruise’
Season 2 Episode 11
Up until this point in the series, Michael Scott has been pretty much portrayed as an inept boss who only wants people to like him, and fairly devoid of many redeeming qualities. He has moments of heart, and you can tell he cares - but his intentions are almost exclusively overshadowed by his tendency to mess everything up. “Booze Cruise” marks a point not only in the evolution of Michael’s character, but in his relationship with Jim; a relationship that would beautifully unfold into a high point in the series until it reaches the absolute apex in “Goodby Michael.”
We the audience have known Pam to be engaged from the very first episode. It’s an engagement that seems to have no end in sight, and “Booze Cruise” strikes a major blow to us romantics that thought we had everything figured out. Not only does Roy buckle down and finally get serious about the engagement, but he sets an actual date. At this moment, that nagging technicality has become a very real threat for Jim, and for us all. Time is ticking away and a real sense of urgency takes hold. Time for Michael to shine (again)!
Left to his own emotions, Jim walls up and becomes quite cold. He dumps his on/off girlfriend, subsequently stranding himself on a boat with the scorned ex-lover. He is unable to cope, and that same sense of urgency that has gripped the audience has completely engulfed Jim. In a rare moment of hopelessness, Jim opens up to Michael of all people. And it is here where the seed is planted for that special relationship - a watershed moment for Michael, and a second wind for Jim.
Oh yeah…if that’s not enough to sell you on the greatness of this episode, there’s also this (a moment that never fails to have be in hysterics)…
#1: “Fun Run”
Season 4 Episode 1
I have read a lot of lists over the years on various opinions about what the greatest episodes of “The Office” are, and I never see this one mentioned. It has always been my number one, and never relinquished that spot over the years.
“Fun Run” is the first episode of “The Office” that I ever seen. It was playing in the respiratory department of the hospital I worked at. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, but I remember smirking a few times and generally being drawn to the characters, despite not ever seeing any previous episode. Within the context of the chronological series, I love “Fun Run” even more.
“Fun Run” to me represents a bit of a victory lap. All of the Jim and Pam tension that had been built up over the prior three years was finally lifted. The weight was gone, and it was time to enjoy the fruits of our collective emotional labors. This episode is indeed the very first episode of Jim and Pam as a couple.
Beyond the sentimental reasons for loving this episode, we are treated to perhaps Michael’s most outlandishly funny idea, spawned from his most outlandishly funny misdeed. In the beginning of the episode, Michael strikes Meredith with his car, breaking her pelvis. Through a variety of classic Michael Scott misunderstandings, he ends up throwing a fun run to cure rabies, a disease which has already been eradicated. Cue “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure.” You may be asking yourself if I own the fun run t-shirt - the answer is a resounding yes.
While there’s no great odds overcome in this episode, or high stakes, “Fun Run” remains one of the most endearing 42 minutes of television I’ve ever seen (it was a special bonus-sized episode). Everything about this episode feels so full of heart, and it’s a wonderful thing to kick back and watch Jim and Pam be truly happy for once.
Also, R.I.P. Sprinkles.