May 12, 2011

[TV] The Office US: Season 3

The Office US: Season 3Movies are great things. In the span of 1-2 hours, a creative team is able to come together to tell a great story through the combination of spoken lines, great visuals and all those other elements. In some ways it's like a poem - you only have so much time to tell a particular story. And that's brilliant in itself.

Some people might argue that TV is more like that - how you only have 30 minutes to an hour to tell a particular story. While that may be true, the bigger picture is that the really great shows can develop a much larger plot over several seasons. In that sense, you can compare it more to a serial novel - a great story that builds up over time, week after week. A lot of sitcoms have a problem with this and they take a few seasons before they get comfortable enough to develop a larger story arc. And some start it from day one.

I don't quite know where exactly you can trace the core story at the heart of The Office that made me fall in love with the show, but some can argue that it started at the very beginning. The idle flirtation between Jim and Pam just develops quite well and really turns this show into a very long-running romantic comedy - without going over the line into the realm of absurdity.

The third season of The Office introduces another branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company - the Stamford branch. The show was originally based on a British television show of the same name and was developed for American TV by Greg Daniels.

At the end of the last season Jim (John Krasinski) decided to take a transfer opportunity to the Stamford branch after the end-of-season kiss between him and Pam (Pam Beesly). Without his knowledge of the true reasons why, Pam actually broke off her engagement to Roy (David Denman) and thus now they're in separate locations, continuing on as normal.

Thus the show now switches between the core Scranton branch and the Stamford branch. And there's a bunch of other stuff that happens such as Pam trying to take on the "mantle" of continuing to play pranks on Dwight (Rainn Wilson), the odd relationship between Ryan (D.J. Novak) and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) and all the other office eccentricities. And of course there's Michael Scott (Steve Carell)himself - and where do I begin in trying to describe Michael Scott? And where do I begin with his boss Jan Levenson (Melora Hardin).

Rashida Jones at the Austin, TX premiere of I ...Image via WikipediaOn the Stamford side, we also get to meet fellow sales representatives Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) whose main claim to fame is the fact that he went to college at Cornell University and Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones), who represents a potential love interest for Jim, believe it or not. And of course the camera crews decided to follow Jim to Stamford as well, so we get to watch all the action at both branches.

The show's sense of humor is a great mix of wit, physical comedy, and some really shallow stuff. And at first I thought I wouldn't appreciate this kind of humor, but the show has certainly grown on me over the seasons. Beyond the Jim and Pam story, which is just darling, the show is pretty darn funny and I have found myself laughing a lot - both out of pure amusement and the occasional moments of awkward discomfort.

The season had a lot of character growth, most definitely. We got to see Jim outside of his context with Pam. We got to see Michael Scott develop into a less one-sided character and more into a boss who means well but doesn't always know how to express himself well - or appropriately. And Oscar (Oscar Nunez) gets to have a gay kiss with Michael. Seriously. Kind of sad, I know.

If this were a real office, I'd be really concerned about the number of office romances that seem to keep happening. I mean seriously, is this appropriate? But then again, who cares, right? If the doctors on Grey's Anatomy get to snog one another beyond belief, then why can't a bunch of people in a paper company in New Jersey get some right?

I guess the real point here is the fact that the show just establishes how in a small office environment like this, the people have the potential to growing into a weird little family unit of sorts. It's not a perfect analogy, I know, but that's sort of how I see things. The quirky people that you work together with can become an interesting little group that you'll find yourself liking more and more. You don't get to choose your family members nor do you get to choose your officemates. But in the end it works out one way or another.

Beyond that I don't really know what to say. I could go on about which episodes in this season that I liked the most, but it's just so hard to choose. They're all pretty good but none of them particularly stand out that much either. Just like a good ensemble cast, the show works since all the little pieces come together to form a greater whole. And that's just cool.

The Office: Season 3 is a nice step in the continuing evolution of the show and it gets 4 miscellaneous characters from the Stamford branch out of a possible 5. And that's because I had to take a point away for keeping Jim and Pam apart the whole time.

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