My first exposure to The Office came during the keynote address when Apple introduced the original iPhone. Steve Jobs demoed the new tv shows that would be available on the device and used the cold open from season 3 episode 7, “Branch Closing.” This is a classic scene where Jim is sending Dwight faxes “from himself, from the future.” Classic. That hooked me. After I finished the keynote (for some reason while I am watching these product announcements I don’t feel nearly as nerdy as I do when I am talking about it later), I became a devoted fan to the television series.
One of the things that made me love the show was this interplay between Jim and Dwight. Jim was smart but didn’t care for his job. Dwight was a fool and was obsessed with the mid-sized paper company. You knew going into an episode that Jim would get the better to Dwight. Dwight was helpless against Jim’s sarcasm, wit, and clever pranks. In my top 10 of all time great scenes from The Office is the scene from season 2 episode 21, “Conflict Resolution,” where Michael reads off a list of Jim’s misdeeds toward Dwight.
The first three, possibly four, seasons of The Office were fantastic. They rank up there with the great all time sitcoms. But something happened after season four. The show lost its way. Jim and Pam were together so they needed a new love drama. Angela does not make a very sympathetic heroine. Michael quits, starts his own paper company downstairs, comes back. Dunder Mifflin gets sold. A new CEO is mystically replaced by a recently hired branch manager. So, the Reader’s Digest version is that a whole bunch of other strange wanderings happened with the plot.
I remained an avid fan, although occasionally rolling my eyes at an episode here or there. However, one thing really started to bother me with the new tone in the office. The original greatness of Jim owning Dwight somehow got turned on its head. Dwight started owning Jim. This really was tragic. It culminated with season 7 episodes11-12, “Classy Christmas.” Dwight literally has Jim scared for his life.
And then, to my surprise and delight, the writers must have figured out that Jim is supposed to win and the most recent two or three episodes have reversed the trend. Jim once again seems in control.
Congratulations writers! Maybe you are starting to get it after all. Keep it up. I look forward to many more pranks by Jim perpetrated against Dwight.