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Monday, February 14, 2005

The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest

The Office may be one of the funniest shows ever aired on television.

I first saw an episode of it about eight months ago, and thought it was funny, but I ended up cringing more than I laughed. A friend of mine had the same complaint when we originally saw Meet the Parents some years ago. "It's just too embarassing. I didn't think it was funny," she said. I originally thought The Office was very funny, but I didn't think I could take it in anything more than small doses.

Then, a couple of nights ago, my sister got the complete second season on DVD from the video store. Upon getting home from work, I got myself a snack and put in the DVD, thinking to myself that I'd watch one or two episodes. I watched one. Then I watched another one. By the time the second one was over, I knew I was in it for the long haul.

I did watch all six episodes in a row. I did watch all the outtakes. I did watch all the deleted scenes. I did watch the video diary on the show. I did stay up until four thirty in the morning in order to achieve this.

At one point, just as the second episode was ending, I realized that I had been watching for the last ten minutes with both palms slapped against my forehead in embarassment.

This show is not just good because it depicts many of the ridiculous scenarios that take place while working in an office. It's good because it achieves everything it sets out to do, and it's completely self-aware. It never takes itself too seriously (even as a comedy), and it always goes appropriately too far enough to get the laugh that you didn't know was coming. Their use of deadpan expressions in the face of absurd situations is so good--I don't know if I could ever film some of those scenes without laughing (on the bloopers reel, it showed twenty-five attempted takes of a scene in which the actors simply couldn't stay in character).

The show ends perfectly, and in pretty much the only acceptable way. The resistance by the writers and directors to make it end up the way we might want it to shows good judgment and maturity that many sitcom creators don't use.

"Neil Canterbury. The Canterbury Tales."

"Yes, I've heard that one before."

"By Chaucer."

"Yes."

"And Shakespeare."

Taking dictation from the scene doesn't do it justice--it's absolutely insane.

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