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The Office: A Benihana Christmas

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Dec 14th 2006 10:29PM

Let the holiday festivities begin!(S03E10) This week brought us a special 60-minute holiday episode of The Office, and as you just saw, a lot of things happened, and we're sure to see a number of new storylines take shape over the next few episodes.

Last year's holiday party episode was a classic, so it was with eager anticipation that I plopped myself down in front of the TV to see what would take place this year. Although it probably could have been cut down from 60 minutes to one of those NBC "super-sized" 40-minute episodes, this one was satisfying enough for me and for most viewers, I'm sure.

The opening teaser with Dwight bringing in a freshly killed goose and his pleading to prepare it for the staff party didn't do a whole lot for me, but it segued nicely into the story which focused on the holiday party plans. In the meantime, Michael was all excited about his purchase of two tickets to Jamaica and bringing his girlfriend Carol but, of course, he always takes things to the extreme, and his Photoshopping of her family skiing picture with his image pissed off and scared her enough to break it off with him.

As we know all too well, Michael doesn't seem to know how to keep things on an even keel, and his reaction to her walking out was certainly in line with his character. He's so destroyed that he wants to cancel the Christmas party because he is in pain over Carol, but Andy actually does something to help (much to Dwight's chagrin) and offers to take Michael to lunch at Benihana's, and Jim and Dwight go with them. (More on that later.)

When Jim turned down Pam's offer to help play a prank on Dwight with regard to his desire to work for the CIA, there certainly was a look of disappointment on her face, however slight it was. Jim tells us that he has to take his respsonsibility as the number 2 in Scranton a little more seriously, but it seems hard to believe.

Angela, the Christmas Party Committee Nazi, alienated Pam and Karen enough for them to organize their own "way more fun" Margarita-Karaoke Party, and it becomes a battle of wills as to which party the staffers will attend. (The tearing down of each other's party flyers on the wall reminded me of the classic Bugs Bunny confrontation with Daffy Duck--"Duck Season!" "Wabbit Season!")

The dynamic at Benihana was interesting, to say the least. Andy is doing his best to ingratiate himself with Michael, and his success in having Dwight sit at the far end of the hibachi grill was a shrewd move on his part. It was this part of the overall episode that I thought could have been condensed--was Dwight's conversation with the chef about knives that necessary?

Meanwhile, the duelling party planners take things to a fever pitch, and when Angela got the go-ahead from Dwight to start her party, the fun begins. Of course, Stanley has one of his classic wordless reactions as he stood up and, after the commercial break, he turns toward Pam and Karen's party, and the floodgates open. The rest of the staff, for the most part, go to the break room and party there. Meredith is particularly happy because booze will be there.

Kevin's dilemma is on deciding which party he should attend--his "double fudge/Angela" monologue accurately depicted his difficult choice. He eventually attends Angela's party along with Phyllis and another staffer, but Angela's regimented control quickly drives Kevin away. Things get even stickier when the guys return from Benihana's with a couple of waitresses and Michael brinigng along his new "girlfriend". Angela is clearly pissed off, and we learn that the karaoke portion of the other party hasn't gone off because a power cord is missing. Hmmm... But, Darryl pitches in and plays electric piano to lend some musical accompaniment.

For me, probably the single funniest moment of the entire show was Kevin's rendition of Alannis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know". I don't think I'll be able to ever hear that song again the same way. I'll just be thinking of Kevin...ugghh.

Eventually, the parties merge, and Angela "finds" the power cord. Let the karaoke begin! Andy and Michael's duet of "Your Body is a Wonderland" (I'm not familiar with this one, so some assistance here would help) was a bit creepy, and Kelli's "We Belong" by Pat Benatar and her adding "Ryan" was predictable.

Eventually, the waitresses from Benihana decide to leave. Michael couldn't figure out which girl was his, and his leaving a mark on one of their arms was hillarious. He's feeling down on himself again since she turned down his offer to go to Jamaica with him, but after Jim "consoles" him, his spirits lift.

Let's not forget that the dynamic between Dwight and Angela got a little more interesting, especially with actually being tender with her by putting his hand over hers during the party. And when he wins the raffle and gets some walkie-talkies, his contacting her by using the phrase, "Monkey, this is Possum!" actually warmed my heart. Her rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" with Dwight supplying the drum rolls was wonderfully disturbing.

To top things off, Oscar, who has been gone since the first show of the season on a company-sponsored "holiday" to make up for the mess surrounding his sexuality, shows up, but his "Too soon" comment may prove interesting in the long run.

The big mystery, of course, is who Michael called to go to Jamaica with him. The person on the other line accepts, so let the speculation begin. Naturally I, along with most other viewers, would assume it was Jan who he called, but could there even be a shred of a possibility that he called Carol back and she relented? Probably not, but we'll have to wait a bit to see who he took to Jamaica. He certainly will let us know soon enough.

We again saw another scene where Pam observed Jim and Karen sharing a moment together, and she clearly is puzzled by the whole situation. It seems she's still sorting out her feelings about Jim, but he's giving off the impression that he has moved on. Will Pam make a move on Jim? The end saw Jim getting back into his prankster mode and helping Pam make Dwight wait for a CIA helicopter on the building's rooftop.

Overall, a very good and entertaining episode. As I mentioned earlier, it probably could have been cut down a bit here and there, but there were enough truly funny moments to make it a very satisfying viewing experience.

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I could be way off here, but I sadly don't have Tivo & can't check the credits to find out for myself to avoid making an ass out of myself. The woman at the Benihana table with the guys, who was sitting next to Dwight, was that the same actress who played Dawn on the original office? The woman who was Dawn also plays one of the writers on Studio 60, and I swear it's her. Any thoughts?

December 20 2006 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm probably really late on this thread, but what did the waitress whisper she wanted to give Michael when he gave her the bike?

My lady said it might be, uh, "BJ" but I couldn't tell.

What do you think?

December 18 2006 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Poster #9, that's so what should happen! I like the idea of Toby and Pam going out-- not living happily ever after, necessarily, but they seem like they would be cute to watch going out a few times...

December 18 2006 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched the episode on TiVo over the weekend. I thought it was very good, save the opening, which was slow and bordering on self-parody.

And since no one else has pointed it out yet ... I think the movie was Bridget Jones' Diary.

December 18 2006 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Garmisa

I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned, but far and away the funniest line of the episode was Jim saying to Dwight "could you be quiet, I'm in session."

I laughed at that for a few minutes, and still do every time I think about it.

December 17 2006 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Was Dwight's conversation with the chef about knives that necessary?"

Considering this episode was originally two different episodes combined into one (this should be S03E10+11), I'm pretty sure that conversation with the Chef would be the cold open for the second episode. It's not nescessarily story progression, but the cold open never is.

December 17 2006 at 4:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our favorite moment was when Michael told Kevin and Roy that "all waitresses look alike" and the guys laughed. I'm guessing it was a character break that they left in. Steve C. didn't break, but the others did.

December 16 2006 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

#46 revised:

Fine episode...

Pam is particularly stressed seeing Jim and Karen embrace both because of her feelings for Jim _and_ because she has just "invested" in a friendship with Karen...

Toby is great talking to Dwight in the opening, referring to their previous conversation about dead animals...

Interesting "dynamic"...

December 16 2006 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The movie that Jim and Karen gave to each other: Bridget Jones' Diary. Or maybe the sequel, I couldn't tell.

December 16 2006 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fine episode...

Pam is particularly stressed seeing Jim and Pam embrace both because of her feelings for Jim _and_ because she has just "invested" in a friendship with Karen...

Interesting "dynamic"...

December 16 2006 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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