In my post entitled “Arrested Development and Party Down: Better off Dead?” I came off very harsh regarding The Office, and that is not a fair assessment of my true feelings towards the show. I love the early seasons of the show, finding them a perfect balance between comedy and light-drama and I believe season 2 and season 3 are the best back to back seasons of any comedy show ever. So without further ado, here are my 5 favorite episodes of The Office.
5. “The Dundies” (Season 2, Episode 1) While there were certainly high spots in season 1, such as “Diversity Day” and “Basketball”, to me it didn’t seem like the office truly found its footing until the premier of season 2, “The Dundies.” Drunk Pam was hilarious and a nice departure from her usual reserved, mild-mannered self. The Jim and Pam story line also takes an interesting twist when Pam kisses Jim after winning her Dundie. Michael was both hilarious and horrible as the host of The Dundies with his song parodies and it was the last time “Ping” has surfaced. It could be argued that this was the episode that saved the show as they needed a strong showing after rather lackluster ratings in Season 1
Michael: So I, you know, an employee will go home, and he’ll tell his neighbor, “Hey, did you get an award?” And the neighbor will say, “No man. I mean I slave all day and nobody notices me.” Next thing you know, employee smells something terrible coming from the neighbor’s house. Neighbor’s hanged himself, due to lack of recognition.
4. “Dinner Party” (Season 4, episode 13) Directed by Paul Feig who later directed Bridesmaids, this inside look at Michael’s home life is equal parts hilarity and awkwardness. At some parts, I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or just squirm. Michael’s obsession with his plasma TV kills me and by being exposed to Jan’s crazy side, you feel a new sense of sympathy for Michael. This is a true classic episode of The Office, as it’s difficult to watch but you can’t not due its hilariousness.
Michael: That is sort of an oaky afterbirth
3. “Beach Games” (Season 3, Episode 23) “Beach Games” stands out to me because it’s so incredibly layered and has a little bit of everything. There is so many funny parts and at the same time, this episode takes a serious turn towards the end. Michael’s phone call with David Wallace, the bus ride, Toby’s disappointment, Andy floating away in his sumo suit and Michael’s frustrations due to the staff’s indifference are highlights of this episode. But no part stands out to me more than Pam’s coal walk and discovered confidence. Just like in the “The Dundies,” this represents a large contrast of Pam’s passive behavior and it was quite refreshing to see.
Michael: If you don’t like it, Stanley, you can go to the back of the bus.
Stanley: Excuse me?
Michael: Or the front of the bus. Or drive the bus
2. “The Injury” (Season 2, Episode 12) Penned by Mindy Kalin who also plays Kelly Kapoor, “The Injury” is the episode that truly turned me into a fan. Up until that point I had certainly enjoyed the show, but I was far from a diehard. After this episode I was hooked. The entire premise was great and I couldn’t figure out which sub-plot I liked more, Michael’s desire for special treatment or Dwight’s concussion symptoms. The scene on the way to the hospital where Jim is spraying both Dwight and Michael with a mister remains one of my favorites. A truly hysterical episode.
Michael: Let me ask you something. How longs it take for you to do something simple, everyday, like, like brush your teeth in the morning.
Billy Merchant: I don’t know, like thirty seconds?
Michael: Oh my god. That’s three times as long as it takes me
1. “Casino Night” (Season 2, Episode 22)
Widely recognized as one of the best episodes of the series, the season 2 finale “Casino Night” was important because it represented the culmination (for now) and climax of the Jim and Pam story arc and much like other early episodes of The Office found a nice balance between comedy and drama. The first episode of the series to be written by Steve Carell, “Casino Night” further developed the minor characters Creed and Kevin and tied up almost all of the story lines from the first two seasons and did it brilliantly while also maintaining its humor as Michael tries to juggle two dates and Dwight comically tries to be his wing man. It also included one of my favorite moments in the series history when Michael asks Toby “Why are you the way that you are? Honestly, every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not that way. I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.”
Creed: Thanks, I’ve never owned a refrigerator before.
Honorable mention: “Gay Witch Hunt” (Season 3, Episode 1), “The Return” (Season 3, Episode 14), “Conflict Resolution” (Season 2, Episode 21), “Local Ad” (Season 4, Episode 9), “The Deposition” (Season 4, Episode 12), “Business School” (Season 3, Episode 17), “Niagara” (Season 6, Episode 4/5), “Goodbye Toby” (Season 4, Episode 18/19) and “Product Recall” (Season 3, Episode 21)
Did I forget any? Please feel free to share your top 5 in the comment section.