PLOT: Seeing the party is headed for disastrous boredom, Michael breaks corporate policy to buy alcohol for the staff.
For those of us that have ever endured an office Christmas party, The Office’s season 2 Christmas episode is a combination of all the ridiculous moments that have occurred over multiple parties. There’s the drink too much year, there’s the Secret Santa gone wrong year, there’s the decorations aren’t really great year, and finally there’s the year where you share a nice moment with a co-worker that may lead to something more later. All of these events occur during one night at Dunder-Mifflin, and it is both hilarious and cringe-worthy.
You laugh at the comedic exaggeration, and squirm at those moments that hit too close to home. This combination is the right mixture for a sitcom Christmas story, especially when you have less than a half-hour to tell it. What this specific episode did, and something the US Office did very well overall, was tell small stories within the ridiculousness of the jokes. At no point did it feel like this night was different than the others we’ve spent in Scranton, and that is a huge accomplishment when an episode has a particular theme. It was definitely one of the most pure sitcom plots that I’ll probably see during this month.
It will probably be the case for the vast majority of the shows I watch, but there were no religious symbols in this episode. The closest we get is a ‘Happy birthday, Jesus,’ from Michael at one point. This is the right choice considering that it is likely that your audience will understand the secular parts of the holiday more than the religious ones. Sitcoms are meant to be as accessible as possible.
From the opening moment when Michael and Dwight argue over the right way to bring the tree in to the final shot of a topless Meredith standing in Michael’s office, everything felt very dysfunctional and closer the Christmases that most of us endure. And as with Friends, the set designer did a great job of making sure the scenes felt like Christmas, but not in an overwhelming way.
Christmas-ness Score: 4.5 out of 5
Like most early episodes of The Office, “Christmas Party” captures the essence of the characters as well as it advances the show’s storylines. It doesn’t get bogged down in the Christmas element of it, but rather allows the season to add tension and emotion to the events at the party. Each character, while not at their top-level yet, does enough in the episode to use their unique qualities to bring something different to an office Christmas party. This is probably one of the best early episodes to show someone who doesn’t get the dynamic of the show.