The Office: Season 2
October 30, 2006
Greg Daniels, Bryan Gordon, Charles McDougall, Ken Kwapis,
Starring: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Mindy Kaling,
It came as something of a pleasant surprise that The Office didn’t completely suck in comparison to its infinitely superior British counterpart. It came as an even greater surprise that the show developed enough of a following that it survived to a second season (it is currently enjoying a third) where it finally got out from under its predecessor’s shadow and really came into its own.
The first episode kicks things off with the annual Dundies, jokey awards given out to the employees of Dunder-Mifflin and hosted by Michael Scott (Carell), their inept office manager. Steve Carell is unafraid to make a fool of himself as he raps (badly) the theme music to the Dundies. The fact that it has a theme song is baffling in and of itself. Michael then proceeds to bomb badly on truly lame stand-up material. Carell also isn’t afraid to portray a character that is sexist, racist and even homophobic but is almost unaware of this offensive behaviour. He is truly a clueless person.
Arguably the funniest episode of the season is “The Injury.” When Michael burns his foot on a Foreman Grill (his explanation — he enjoys breakfast in bed – is hilarious) Dwight (Wilson) rushes to his aid and en route (before he even gets out of the parking lot) crashes his car and suffers a concussion. Dwight begins acting strange – nicer than his usual, snarky, creepy demeanour. Michael ends up milking his “injury” for all its worth but comes across as pathetic, acting like a big baby. This episode allows Rainn Wilson to play against type and act goofy, showcasing a different set of comedic chops. It is funny to watch Dwight act out of character and, in turn, how his co-workers react to his odd behaviour.
As this season progresses, Jim (Krasinski) and Pam’s (Fischer) flirting continues and their feelings for one another become more apparent but they are afraid to say anything. In “The Carpet,” a mysterious, horrible smelling stain appears on Michael’s carpet in his office. Even after the cleaning lady gets rid of it, the smell persists with a vengeance and the question become how did it get there and who is responsible? Michael slums it in the bullpen with Dwight and basically does no work and spends all of his time bugging everybody else – so, business as usual.
This episode really showcases John Krasinski’s comedic timing and his knack for deadpan reactions to the camera, especially when he’s forced to sit next to a relentlessly chatty co-worker when Michael takes over his desk. Krasinski does understatement very well, especially the longing glances his character gives Pam whom he obviously has a crush on.
In “Casino Night,” the season finale, Michael stages a gambling night for charity and Jim convinces Dwight that he has telekinetic powers (with help from Pam, of course). The Jim and Pam romance reaches a resolution of sorts that sets things up for the next season. Greg Daniels does a good job of maintaining the characters’ quirks from the first season while letting us get to know Michael, Jim, Pam and Dwight a bit more, providing subtle, additional layers. We no longer think of them as carbon copies of the U.K. version and that is the show’s great achievement.
Included are deleted scenes for every episode in this season.
The first disc features an audio commentary on “The Dundies” by actors John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, David Denman, editor Dave Rogers and executive producer Greg Daniels. They talk about the differences between this season and the first one. They claim that this episode is actually a mystery about who wrote the graffiti about Michael in the women’s washroom. For all the participants involved it never gets too chaotic on this fun track.
There is a commentary on “Sexual Harassment” by actor Brian Baumgartner, Rainn Wilson, Novak, Oscar Nunez, Lieberstein, Angela Kinsey, Melora Hardin and writer Larry Wilmore. They laugh and crack jokes in this light-hearted track. They point out that the Todd Packer character is modeled after the mean-spirited Finch from the British series and who was also best friends (one-sided) with Michael’s counterpart David Brent.
Disc two features a commentary on “The Client” by Krasinski, Fischer, Hardin, Baumgartner, Novak, Lieberstein, writer Mike Schur and Daniels. They debate what kind of content gets cut in certain markets and tell plenty of filming anecdotes.
There is a commentary on “Performance Review” by Wilson, Nunez, Lieberstein, Kinsey, Hardin, Wilmore and director Paul Feig. They point out a moment in the opening scene that was actually an unscripted blooper and was so funny that they kept it in.
There is a commentary on “Christmas Party” by Fischer, Novak, Kate Flannery, Denman, Rogers, Schur and Daniels. This is a mellower track as everyone recounts filming anecdotes and how they drew on actual personal experiences for content in this episode.
The third disc features “Faces of Scranton,” Michael’s “movie” from the “Valentine’s Day” episode as he ineptly interviews some of his staff.
There is a commentary on “The Secret” by Krasinski, Fischer, Baumgartner, Kinsey and writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. Fischer claims that this is her favourite Krasinski episode. The writers based the desk cleaning bit on an actual practice in a friend’s office. They also talk about Carell’s knack for getting cast members to break character.
Also included is a commentary on “Valentine’s Day” by Krasinski, Fischer, Kinsey, Kaling, Hardin, Schur, executive producer Kent Zbornak and Daniels. They talk about the decision to let Pam’s hair down and how they tried several different styles before going with the one in this episode. They also talk about the Jan/Michael tryst.
The fourth disc includes “Webisodes from NBC.com: The Accountants,” ten short films that highlight the minor characters on the show who get to star in their own storyline that has them trying to track down missing money stolen from the office.
There is a very funny “Blooper Reel” that features cast members breaking character and blowing lines (and wind in one case).
“Fake PSAs” are 17 faux ads that parody “The More You Know” segments that NBC occasionally airs where celebrities on their shows give out “helpful” pearls of wisdom. In these segments, the characters from the show dole out their own advice on how to deal with bears, drinking beer and other bits of advice.
“Olympics Promos” were ads done specifically to promote the show during its hiatus while the Olympics were on and feature the characters from the show in funny little routines.
“Steve on Steve” has Carell interviewing himself during a mini-Office marathon as he lampoons his supposedly inflated ego while also advertising his then-upcoming movie, The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005).
Also included is a commentary on “Drug Testing” by Wilson, Lieberstein, Fischer, Nunez, Baumgartner, Novak, Kinsey, director of photographer Randall Einhorn, writer Jen Celotta and Daniels. Celotta talks about the origins of the episode and how it allowed us to see Dwight outside of the office as he gets embroiled in a mystery.
Finally, there is a commentary on “Casino Night” by Fischer, Wilson, Hardin, Lieberstein, Denman, Baumgartner, Einhorn and Daniels. This is a more rowdy track as everyone laughs and jokes with each other while Einhorn talks about how he shoots the show and with what camera, etc.