May 19, 2011

[TV] The Office US: Season 4

The Office US: Season 4We all have our reasons for watching the TV shows that we like. Sometimes we affiliate ourselves with one character or another. Other times we just like the nature of the writing. Or perhaps we just like the characters because they were adapted from other media such as from comics or movies. The list of possible reasons go on and on and on.

Admittedly what hooked me in to watching the US version of The Office was the on-going romance of the characters Jim and Pam. There's something wonderfully endearing about their dynamic and their on-screen chemistry that really strikes a chord in me somewhere. Plus Jim seems to have a lot of the same quirks that my partner has - or is it the other way around?

But beyond that, this season did present a lot of growth for the other characters of the show and made it a lot more appealing on more levels. Beyond their initial writing presenting them as caricatures of real people (at least that's always how it came across to me) this season was able to flesh out a lot of the other members of the show. While they all still retain their little idiosyncrasies and their personality quirks that make them the crazy crew that they are, they also become a bit more accessible and thus more real.

The US adaptation of the British series The Office has managed to continue on as a strong part of NBC's sitcom line-up. It was adapted for North American audiences by Greg Daniels who is also executive producer for the show and the showrunner.

When we last left the crazy office of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fisher) were well on their way to cementing their relationship, Ryan (D.J. Novak) had been promoted to a job at the corporate office and Michael (Steve Carell) was formally dating his former boss Jan (Melora Hardin). By this time, most of the Stanford employees have either been fired, quit or moved on to other opportunities, thus leaving Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) as the sole survivor and now a permanent member of the cast.

The season featured a number of 1-hour episodes, which was an interesting move for the franchise. I'm not quite sure if I loved all the 1-hour episodes since as a format, it resulted instances when the episodes seemed to drag to some degree. A lot of the humor of the show is all about quick wit and intelligent banter which sort of falls short when you need to stretch the story to an uncomfortable length. This led to cases when the jokes just didn't work or they the characters seemed to be stuck in the scene while waiting for things to move on to the next sequence.

It aired in the United States on April 19, 200...Image via WikipediaBut beyond that minor irritation, the season had a lot of great moments and great stories. One of the most interesting aspects of the season involved Ryan's return to Dunder Mifflin Scranton, but now as Michael's boss. Like any young, go-getter executive, he has this big idea of modernizing their operations with requiring the use of blackberries, a new online ordering platform called Dunder Mifflin infinity and a bunch of other social media experiments. In other words, Ryan represents all the usual gimmicks of the social media advocates of the working world that we hear from so much these days.

In addition, the season involved a lot of explorations of the other relationships in the show. Michael and Jan have a very strange relationship that goes on for the season and even involved Jan moving in together with Michael. Andy eventually gets together with Angela (Angela Kinsey), much to the chagrin of her former lover Dwight (Rainn Wilson).

And yes, Jim and Pam just continue to get better and better as they explore the joys of finally being open about their feelings for one another. Insert oo-ing and ah-ing here. And how the season ends is certainly a most interesting episode with its own fair share of new characters, plot hooks and all that good stuff.

The fourth season of The Office demonstrates how a healthy TV show gets once the writing has matured, its fate as a show remains fairly secure and the characters have been given enough time to progress in their respective stories. It deserves 4 secret rendezvous between Angela and Dwight out of a possible 5.

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