I think I’m a fairly typical Office viewer. I was a big fan of the British series and so only grudgingly gave the American pilot a half-hearted glance before deciding it was crap. Certainly it was a nearly fatal mistake to use an almost identical script for the premiere; I don’t think I was the only one who gave up on the show immediately. But by early in the second season, enough people had told me I’d been wrong, including fans of the original, that I tried again. And man, it was good. Great even. And by May 2006… perfect.
I’ll concede to being one of those Jim and Pam people (like I was with Dawn and Tim), and god knows, the writers have played us perfectly with the treatment of their relationship. But still, the finale somehow rose above typical TV will they/won’t they silliness. “Casino Night” was touching, sad, exhilarating, desperate… so much more than I could’ve hoped. “Conflict Resolution” featured the funniest 30 seconds in 2006 this year—Jim rattling off his pranks on Dwight, delighting us and making himself a bit miserable all at once. The third season premiere, “Gay Witch Hunt,” was brazen, ridiculous and totally awesome, and that boldness has carried through right to the Christmas episode. But for all the nuttiness of Dunder-Mifflin and its mostly dysfunctional employees, it still feels like a real place, one that could still possibly be under the watchful eye of the luckiest documentary crew since Spellbound’s. One day they’ll have to deal with the repercussions of the show’s premise, and one day the idea of Jim and Pam still circling each other will drive me crazy (for some people that day is already here). But I’m still having fun. And clearly so is The Office. It’s the show I most look forward to each week.