Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Ryan Has Issues
2006-10-20 08:00
by Jon Weisman

First of all, it's clear from Thursday's episode of The Office that a 22-minute conversation between Jim and Pam would be more interesting, entertaining and touching than most of what's on television in a given week.

But this week's episode was about Ryan. Ryan hasn't been too hard to figure out so far. He's in a relationship with Kelly that defies all explanation except the one that's completely implied - that when Kelly stops talking or planning their wedding, sex with her is just plain addictive. (It has become something of a habit for actress Mindy Kaling, who left Paul Rudd so freaky-deaky in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.) Ryan's also in a job he can barely stand, working with people he holds almost entirely in contempt, for no other reason than to have something on his resume and his paycheck to carry him to business school.

He has shown vulnerability, signs that he might be Dunder-Mifflin material, such as the time he accidentally started a kitchen fire and stood to be known as "The Fire Guy" - except "Temp" remained more demeaning. He has also shown charm, such as when he joined Pam in slyly, delicately subverting Michael's grief circle last week.

But Thursday, Ryan has revealed a whole new layer. Ryan is so desperate to succeed that he'll accompany Dwight, at length, on what by definition would be a fool's errand. And he's so devastated by rejection that he'll be the first to grab eggs to hurl at the building of a company whose people chose not to buy paper for him (and, admittedly, told Ryan they didn't like him).

Ryan has issues. He has limitations. And I hate to break the news to him, but that means Ryan might be around for a while.

In the meantime, Pam might have finally digested that Stamford isn't as far away from Scranton as she might think. (Here, I'll Mapquest it for you - just 2 1/2 hours or so in her new car with the nice cupholders. Her question to Jim about "What time is it there?" was heartbreaking because it revealed what a daze she's in when it comes to him. She may still need some "me-time," but perhaps the Pam-Jim-Karen triangle is about to be truly ignited.

(Jenna Fischer, in case you missed it, was just profiled in Entertainment Weekly.)

2006-10-20 09:05:20
1.   Fletch
Speaking of Kelly Kapur- Is she pregnant? She looked heavy in last night's episode.

We need more of Dwight's cousin Mose.

And by the way, who doesn't love soft pretzels.

2006-10-20 09:08:32
2.   mintxcore
man, the reason Pam and Jim's conversation was better than the rest of television is because of carefully timed Mavis Beacon references!

Do you think they are going to wait until the end of the season to merge the two offices (like season 2 of the BBC office)? Or not at all? Michael is definately getting into some hot water so something has got to be up with that.

2006-10-20 09:14:04
3.   Jon Weisman
1 - My dad is the only person I can think of.

2 - I used to do Mavis Beacon (although for some reason I couldn't get away from calling it Mavis Bacon). I got tested in the 70s back when I was temping, which I think is pretty good for a non-secretary. Jim had nothing to be ashamed of.

Regarding your second question, I don't know how long it will take. Might not take the whole season. At a minimum, I can't imagine they want to keep Pam and Jim (and Roy and Karen) separated all season.

2006-10-20 09:46:38
4.   joeldtaylor
How will the writers explain that the Stamford branch will be the one downsized when it's so obvious that corporate thinks Michael is so incapable of his job? I'm excited to watch.

On a side note, I'm always sad when there isn't time for Creed, Toby or Kevin to have more (or any) lines.

2006-10-20 10:08:40
5.   Jon Weisman
4 - Once again, Michael made a big sale last night. That's the juicy part - Michael isn't incapable of doing his job, because so many clients (Tim Meadows, Cos) relate to him.

I love every look and every word that comes out of those guys, especially Toby.

2006-10-20 10:38:47
6.   joeldtaylor
Good point.

Another note - I watched some deleted scenes from this season that made me laugh. Check them out if you havent. (yes, I am once again endorsing watching more TV at work)

2006-10-20 11:08:41
7.   mintxcore
4 - in the BBC Office they explain it by having the boss of "the Other(s)" office taking over Jan/Jen's job with Jan/Jen moving up and some of the folks from the other office moving to Michael/David's office. Haha, confusing.

Though i think the idea of Michael making big sales in unconventional ways is more evident in the US version, which i think is working really well.

Toby is definitely one of my favorite characters. The scene at Jim's party where Toby is sitting inches from the TV playing Halo? Classic.

2006-10-20 19:35:19
8.   JoeyP
Dwight's comedic timing and delivery is stellar. He just has "it". I think he steals every scene he's in.

The best line of last nite's episode IMO was:

Dwight..."And just think, that temp agency could have sent you anywhere"

Ryan..."I think about that all the time"

I dont really find Pam engaging or appealing, bc she's basically a stereotype. Ryan is as well. To me, they are "blah" characters. Any actor or actresses could play them.

IMO, Jim and Dwight carry the show. The rest of the cast is replaceable. The writing of The Office is what makes it work. Not the actors (except for Jim and Dwight).

2006-10-20 20:47:34
9.   xaphor
If you are ever in need of a quick office fix.
2006-10-21 01:01:06
10.   Andrew Shimmin
The rest of the cast is replaceable.

Just the sort of downsizing Dwight recommended in his interview!

2006-10-21 12:36:11
11.   CanuckDodger
10 -- So you're saying JoeyP is the Dwight of Dodger Thoughts? Hmmm.
2006-10-21 15:38:28
12.   Benaiah
8 - What about Michael? I would argue that Carell's Michael is one of the best comic performances ever on television.

I personally think the entire cast is irreplacible and that there is not a single character I dislike.

2006-10-21 16:03:03
13.   Benaiah
I didn't realize that BJ Novak (the actor that plays Ryan) wrote for the show. That is pretty awesome.

I liked that Pam tried to get Michael to do things so that his day would seem more impressive, but she wasn't willing to simply write down that he was being productive. She will play games but she won't cheat. That sounds like a pretty fair discription of her relationship with Jim up to the last episode of last season.

2006-10-21 17:34:16
14.   JoeyP

Its interesting, bc I actually really like Steve Carrell's work in general. He was terrific on the Daily Show, and he is a good improv comedic player.

However, none of his scenes in The Office really are memorable to me. I just dont think he's very interesting. I would say his character is needed for sure, since Dwight needs someone to play off of. But I think there's alot of actors that could play Michael.

I find Dwight, and (Jim/Karen/the other guy)-- in the Stamford location the most entertaining aspects of the show.

Jim cracks me up bc sometimes he'll glance directly into the camera as if he's winking at the audience. That type of subtle acting charm is what makes a character memorable IMO.

Also to be fair, even though I like looking at Karen, she could probably be played by anyone too.

The Office IMO is a rare case of the writing/directing being more important than the actors. So even if "The office" is downsized, I think it'll continue to be a good show bc of the writing team.

2006-10-21 20:00:37
15.   Andrew Shimmin
I don't think I take the point of any of this. What difference does it make that some other actor could, perhaps, play Stanley as well as Stanley does? So what?

The non-Dwight characters are necessary (at the very least) because without them, the show wouldn't be about an office. It'd be some doofus living on a beet farm, which has the smell of an SNL never-ending-skit to it. Really a Studio 60 skit, assuming Dwight is a Christian.

If you don't think Toby is a fantastic character, well played, you're missing out. Ditto for most of the non-Dwights.

2006-10-21 20:44:29
16.   JoeyP
My point was that the script/direction of The Office, is more important to the quality of the show than most of the actors whom are playing the roles.

That is a distinction that goes against the grain of hollywood's usual "star acting power>>>>>>writing/direction".

I'll compare The Office to Friends. People see "Friends" and think about Jennifer Aniston or David Schwimmer. They think "Ross" or "Rachel". Real unique characters. Friends wasnt popular bc of the writing or script IMO. It was about the star power of the actors. None of the cast was replaceable IMO.

The Office is different bc its basically a function of mostly faceless stereotypes, of which most anyone could play. I dont think of "Pam" as an in-depth character. She's just the faceless receptionist to me. A necessary character, for sure. But I dont think the show would lose anything if they dropped her and brought in another receptionist for next season. The lines would be more/less the same. The stereotype the same.. The show would go on.

The Office's popularity is driven almost entirely by the writing, since most of the actors playing the roles (with the exception of Dwight, some may disagree) cant possibly be memorable bc their characters arent really supposed to be memorable.

That was my main point. You can disagree. I just think this focus on the writing being more important than the acting, is a pleasant change of place over other sitcoms.

Just 1 example. The one guy from Everybody Loves Raymond has a new show out. People are probably going to tune in bc they're like "hey thats that guy from ELR"....Forget the writing/set up of the show, its just about one specific unique actor playing a role.

With The Office, its all about the writing..and Dwight.

2006-10-21 21:54:31
17.   mintxcore
16 - people actually call "Everybody Loves Raymond," "ELR"?
2006-10-22 00:05:30
18.   Jon Weisman
JoeyP, I disagree with most of what you've written here.
2006-10-22 01:58:19
19.   Andrew Shimmin
I disagree with the rest of it. Who'd ever heard of any of the Friends before the show became a hit?

Anyway, I've never before this day been so grateful that you weren't an NBC executive. They lay one finger on Pam, and as Ch-i is my witness, blood will be spilt; vengeance will be had.

2006-10-22 10:00:06
20.   JoeyP
18--Thats cool.

19- I've never before this day been so grateful that you weren't an NBC executive.

How do you know I'm not ;)

2006-10-22 13:18:28
21.   Benaiah
If they replaced Pam the show would lose 90% of its charm. Pam and Jim's relationship is IMHO the best thing about the show, and the most touching romance I have seen on TV... ever maybe? I am going back and watching the old episodes, and it is amazing that they have managed to sustain this romance without anything ever happening. Until the end of last season it was all mostly implied, but that much more powerful because of it. If they took Pam off the show, and suddenly Jim is just hitting on some new receptionist... well that would make my favorite show on TV into something I would campaign against.
2006-10-22 17:31:28
22.   Marty
21 Exactly, Pam and Jim are the lynch pins. Even though there was nothing really going on between them, you knew they craved each other. I remember one scene when Jim was dating the cute, outside sales woman. Pam was talking to the camera about what a nice couple they were and then just says "I feel like I'm talking really loud. Am I talkiing loud?" Just with that line, you knew she hated that they were dating.
2006-10-22 17:33:55
23.   Jon Weisman
Among many other things, I think JoeyP is underestimating how much the cast improvises their lines.
2006-10-22 17:45:57
24.   Andrew Shimmin
20- Aren't you a grad student? It's possible I'm misremembering. MBA, right?
2006-10-22 17:50:37
25.   Benaiah
23 - Is that very common in the American version? From what I have read, the British version is entirely scripted, even stutters and ums and everything. I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't true in the American version, as in the Jenna Fischer interview several times it is implied that random unscripted things were put in.
2006-11-06 16:07:59
26.   Robyn
I am obsessed with the show, and I don't think I've ever watched a show three or four times within the week after it aired. I was really upset when ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT was cancelled, but this show, I don't want it to end. The writing is unbelievable, but the actors know exactly what to do with the writing, and that's really saying something, I always say. Or that's what she said...

Also, I love that Michael is a nine-year-old boy who is actually good at selling and sympathetic. Totally agree with Jon on that. And I could go on and on about the others. It's brilliant.

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