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The Office's 10 Best Episodes: Pretzel Day, A Night Out, A Wedding And More
"Dinner Party" (Season 4, Ep. 13)
For the most part, the American version of The Office offered a much sweeter and less cringe-worthy kind of humor than its British counterpart but "Dinner Party," taking place in the middle of the fourth season, it's just about as awkward as comedy gets. In fact, Jim even addresses how uncomfortable the situation is getting during one of his talking head moments, wondering if hosts Michael and Jan are playing a separate game of how awkward can they make their guests. And the results are amazing.
Bridesmaids' Paul Feig (a regular behind the camera) directed a script from Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg, that opened cold with Michael turning the tables on Jim (and by extension Pam) and tricking him into having no excuse but to finally agree to have dinner with him and Jan. And why not recently formed couple Andy and Angela too? But no Dwight. Of course, he shows up anyway, with his old babysitter (Beth Grant) and yet they somehow manage to come in a distant second in the cringe category. There is simply no matching Michael and Jan, from the former talking shop about his vasectomies (yes, plural) to the latter making everyone listen to her assistant Hunter sing about "That One Night". And that only scratches the surface, don't forget about the 'babes,' beer sign, Michael's tiny bed (and camera set-up) or cops having to come sort out the domestic dispute at the end. Good thing Dwight crashed so Michael had a place to stay.
"Night Out" (Season 4, Ep. 15)
In the middle of the disaster that is Dunder Mifflin Infinity, in the wake of Michael and Jan's breakup, and at the moment when the shine might be wearing off of Jim and Pam's relationship, Dwight and Michael surprise Ryan in New York "Night Out." Nearly every character winds up at a low point in this surprisingly dark episode, with Ryan revealing his drug problem, Michael calling his poor mom from the club to wonder why women won't dance with him, Jim accidentally getting everyone locked inside the office, and poor Toby awkwardly putting his hand on Pam's knee, announcing his move to Costa Rica, and skittering over the fence into the night.
The only real triumph goes to Dwight, who picks up the women's basketball teams, gets into a fierce make out session, then walks away from the Amazonian woman without a second thought. "Night Out" is the opposite of The Office's peak emotional moments, an episode that seems to revel in seeing its characters as uncomfortable as the audience usually is when watching the show. The American Office never reveled in discomfort as much as the British one did, but this episode shows how well it can work anyway, when nearly all of the characters are up for being taken down a peg.
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