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The Office’ premieres fourth season, opens new chapter

Cassie Belek | Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last season, “The Office” left us with a whopping three cliffhangers. First, Jim leaves Karen in New York City to ask Pam out on a date. Second, Michael tells a breast-enhanced and recently-fired Jan that she can move into his condo. And third, Ryan gets the branch-supervising job at corporate and dumps Kelly on the spot.

What a way to start a new season.

Season four of “The Office” premieres tonight on NBC at 9 p.m. with “Fun Run,” the first of four hour-long episodes to start the season. “Fun Run” wraps up some of last season’s loose ends and answers a few of our burning questions. Tonight’s episode follows the Dunder Mifflin employees after a freak accident in the office prompts Michael to organize a charity “fun run.”

But even before tonight’s episode, fans can go to NBC.com for brief clips of what “The Office” characters did this summer. Jim left Karen crying next to a fountain in New York, Pam finally let her hair down and is now 30 percent more unpredictable, Ryan forgot his entire life in Scranton but thinks he dated a black girl, Angela went to the Pocono’s with a gentleman friend, and Jan moved in and made Michael watch “Y Tu Mamá También.”

“The Office” steers each new season in a particular direction while staying on the cutting edge of comedy. In its first season, the show was just trying to find its legs. “The Office” broke out in its second season and found its comedic direction that was separate from the BBC original. Season three remained excellent and successfully took a huge risk focusing on two different branches.

Season four will focus not only on further developments in the relationships between Jim and Pam and Dwight and Angela, but also on the professional struggles of Dunder Mifflin Scranton as new corporate boss Ryan tries to take the company into the 21st century and into the online age. Ryan unveils his digital dreams in the season’s second episode “Dunder Mifflin Infinity.”

To coincide with the show’s launch of Dunder Mifflin Infinity, NBC.com is creating its own interactive Dunder Mifflin Infinity in which fans can join online branches, complete tasks and earn prizes and Schrute Bucks. “The Office” is taking its interaction with fans to a level rarely reached on television.

However, for now, the focus is on tonight’s revelations. Enjoy the payoff, but first, here’s a couple spoilers: Jim takes off his shirt, and Andy takes measures to protect his nipples. Now wait just a few more hours. It’s almost here.