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Cubicle comedy craze continues on The Office

Chris McGrady | Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The third season of “The Office” is right in line with the previous two: irreverent, random and completely hilarious.

In the third helping of the Americanized version of the popular British show, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is back and more ridiculous than ever, flitting through the show with the same kind of politically incorrect banter that has made him one of the most popular characters on television.

For the half a dozen people in America who have yet to catch at least part of the show, “The Office” follows the exploits of a team of employees at Dunder-Mifflin, a local paper supply company in Scranton, Pa. Scott is the hapless leader of the bunch, a caricature of every known fault in every boss across the country. He’s inappropriate, clueless and helpless, all at the same time. His right hand man is Dwight K. Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) is the most normal of the male characters in the show, and plays a sarcastic salesman. Halpert is paired with Pam Beasley (Jenna Fischer), the lead lady on the series.

Seasons One and Two established “The Office” as one of the most intelligent shows on television. Largely avoiding the slapstick humor that many situational comedies rely on, “The Office” instead creates the type of awkward humor that most anyone can relate to and is filmed in a mockumentary style. What sets the show apart from other sitcoms is its dialogue. In fact, members of the cast have written many of the episodes and the talent shows.

Season Three picks up where the second season left off. The first episode is one of the funniest, where one of the office employees comes out as a homosexual. Not surprisingly, Michael does not handle the situation well – creating a hilarious number of situations. Meanwhile, Jim has transferred to a new office and a new set of characters joins the show, which keeps things fresh.

Midway through the season, the two offices merge. This episode, thoughtfully dubbed “The Merger,” is one of the best of the season. In Michael’s attempts to welcome the new employees, he once again creates a number of awkward and hilarious situations. By the end of the day, only two employees from the outside branch remain, and Michael is clueless as to why.

Employee Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms, is a major addition to the show. The former glee club singer and Cornell grad (you can bet he won’t let you forget it) is one of the show’s most entertaining characters, and his constant battles with Dwight for Michael’s attention create some of the best episodes of the season. Other high points are the episodes “The Coup,” “The Initiation,” “Booze Cruise” and the doubly long season finale, “A Benihana Christmas.”

The only problem with the show is that Michael is almost too absurd. In Seasons One and Two, Michael’s humor was more subtle, and relied on sarcasm and awkward situations. In Season Three, Michael is more “in-your-face,” and this goes over with mixed results.

Fortunately, even his down moments are hilarious. Overall, Michael Scott is still the character that everyone will love – if not for his hilarious personality, then for his dead-on portrayal of the typical office boss. Any person who has worked in an office will have an appreciation for just how realistic some of Michael’s actions are.

The third edition of “The Office” is just as stellar as the first two. Quick hitting, poignant and impressively written, the third season is amazingly well done and fully exhibits why “The Office” remains one of the best and most watched shows on television.