15 Things I Learned from The Office

Is it really over?
Is it really over?

I don’t really know how to say goodbye to one of my favorite shows. I know it’s time for “The Office” to end, but I’m still in denial that I won’t see Jim and Pam all the time.

The last finale I remember being adamant about staying home to watch live was “Full House”. That evening was my third-grade awards night and no amount of reasonable hooky explanations worked for my parents. I had to watch Michelle struggle with her memory and good twin on VHS.

The Office began when I was in college, well before my days earning full-time wages. As I’ve locked away seven solid years in what I thought was “non traditional” office work, I realize that I took a lot of lessons away from the Dunder Mifflin crew because I really do have an “office” job. Here are just a few lessons I’ve learned:

1. Always give honest responses.

“What does this look like to you?” – Michael, pointing to his bubble wrapped foot.

“Mail Boxes, Etc.” – Stanley, Season 2, The Injury

2. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. 

“Why are you the way that you are? Honestly, every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not that way. I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.”  – Michael to Toby, Season 2, Casino Night

3. Don’t settle in too much.

“If I had to, I could clean out my desk in five seconds, and nobody would ever know I had ever been here. And I’d forget, too.” – Ryan, Season 2, The Secret

4. Everyone has distractons that sidetracks the task at hand. 

“So how are we going to energize our office? I mean, I haven’t done anything since Christmas, Pam clearly has just given up trying.” – Michael to office staff. Pam’s wearing glasses. Season 4, Did I Stutter

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“When I discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for five days. I did nothing. I watched Cookie Monster sing Chocolate Rain about a thousand times.” – Michael, Season 5, Business Ethics

5. It’s OK to think about the end of the day, no matter how much you love your job.

“Lord, beer me strength.” -Jim, Season 3, Product Recall

6. Sometimes work makes you irrational and cranky. 

“I want to clamp Michael’s face in a George Foreman grill.” – Jim, Season 2, The Injury

7. Dreams die. Find new ones and move on.

“I’m not a millionaire. I thought I would be by the time I was thirty, but I wasn’t even close. Then I thought maybe by forty, but by forty I had less money than I did when I was thirty.” -Michael, Season 6, Scott’s Tots

8. Just be yourself. 

“It’s like I used to tell my wife. I do not apologize unless I think I’m wrong. And if you don’t like it you can leave. And I say the same thing to my current wife and I’ll say it to my next one too.” -Stanley, Season 4, Did I Stutter

9. You will ALWAYS have to do math. 

“The principal told me that 90 percent of Scott’s Tots are on track to graduate and that’s 35  percent higher than the rest of the school. I think that if you hadn’t made that promise a lot of them would’ve dropped out, which is something to think about, I think.” -Erin, Season 6, Scott’s Tots

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“What an awesome party. The best wedding I’ve ever been to. I got six numbers. One more, would’ve been a complete telephone number.” -Kevin, Season 6, Niagra

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David Wallace: “Can you tell me why you had to cut the face off the dummy?”

Dwight: “I didn’t think it was very realistic in the movie, and it turns out, it’s pretty realistic.”

David: “We had to pay for it. It cost us $3,500.”

Michael: “Five thousand and three hundred dollars for a dummy?”

-Season 5, Stress Relief

10. Performance reviews are arbitrary and subjective to your supervisor’s mood.

“Well, last year my performance started with Michael asking me what my hopes and dreams were, and ended with him telling me he could bench press 190 pounds. So I’m not really sure what to expect.” -Pam, Season 2, Performance Review

11. Don’t skip lunch. It’s your one bright spot in a bad day.

“Now that I’m back to doing the job of a temp again, I find that food is one thing I CAN control.” -Ryan, Season 5, Cafe Disco

12. No one will ever really understand what you do for a living. 

“I think it’s great that the company’s making a commercial because not many people have heard of us. I mean when I tell people I work at Dunder Mifflin, they think that we sell mufflers. Or muffins. Or… mittens. And frankly all those sound better than paper so, I let it slide.” -Jim, Season 4, Local Ad

13. Your boss doesn’t always know what he or she is talking about, especially when it comes to motivating you. 

“They’re wrong, you are creative. You are damn creative. Each and every one of you. You are so much more creative than all the other dry, boring morons that you work with.” -Michael, Season 4, Local Ad

14. Your office is not your home. It is not worth dying for the job…unless your job is saving lives. Get out.

“[evacuating the office] Do you want to die!?” -Dwight to the office, Season 2, The Fire

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“Nobody should have to go to work thinking, oh this is the place that I might die today. That’s what a hospital is for…” -Michael, Season 5, Stress Relief

15. Always have “That’s what she said” ready to go. Yes, it is inappropriate, but it lightens the mood and people have to smile.

I will miss you, Dunder Mifflin.

The best of So You Think You Can Dance

One of my favorite shows is ending this week  and my favorite guilty pleasures is starting back up. I’ll get to the farewell later this week, but I have to celebrate the start of So You Think You Can Dance.

Yes, it’s a reality show. Yes, I could be handing meals out to the hungry or saving homeless kittens instead of investing 2+ hours each week, but it is the best reality TV show out there. I have a girl crush on Cat Deely, the host, and I’ve even come to adore the Hot Tamale Train scream from Mary Murphy.

The following are a few of my favorite dances in no particular order. They are a primer on your way to becoming a super fan and saying things like, “That pas de deux lacked extension and your turnout looked like you had clubbed feet.” Audition rounds start tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Cyrus audition, Season 9: The only audition that I squealed, rewound, called my sister and didn’t care if he floated through. He’s just awesome and I’m so glad this Atlanta guy shared his talent with others.

Allison and Ivan, Season 2: This dance was the first reason I stopped the TV at this show. I was more shocked later to find out Tyce Diorio – Tasty Oreo – and the guy that puts out a lot of crap routines, put this together. I didn’t know Ivan was B boy because he just emotes so well. I wanted to send this to my mom to show her that dance class was more than just booty shaking – also known as the reason I never took classes.

Lacey and Danny, Season 3: Season 3 was epic for many reasons. There wasn’t one in the top 10 that I didn’t love and every week they  just continued to nail routine after routine. It was just too much. Lacey and Danny’s samba was sexy and there were bonus points that hottie Dimitry choreographed. The staccato beats just built the sexual tension on stage. There was a lot of Mary Murphy screaming and me wondering why I didn’t make an effort to sign up at the local college for dance classes. There has to be someone there, right?

Top 10 group dance, Season 3: Wade Robson choreographed this zombie, gothic southern party that Johnny Depp is throwing. The song is what made this routine, but you know this couldn’t work with out camaraderie on stage among all this loud personalities. It was a great moment and probably my favorite routine.

Mark and Courtney, Season 4: This was one of Sonya Tayeh’s first victories on stage and I think it fueled the oddities that have come out of the show since. There are some fails, but I like that the producers and dancers are willing to fail to offer the audience something different. Mark never looked so sinister and I felt a little bad that all these men would eventually ogle Courtney. I still play “The Garden” in my car once a week. It’s so steamy.

Chelsie and Mark, Season 4: Lyrical hip hop? I’m still not sure what that is other than giving white people a chance to not look like idiots when popping and locking looks like they’re having a seizure. But this routine to “Bleeding Love” with a double scoop of “No Air” the same night solidified Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo as choreographers that were also family friendly enough to be household names. The camera work on this one also adds to the swirling emotions.

Katee and Joshua, Season 4: This is the first time I heard Adele…but before I even noticed her song, I was mesmerized by the emotion Katee and Joshua turned out. All season these two had been pushed because they had the potential to be winners, so everything got nitpicked. But when Katee did that assisted run and then jumped into Joshua’s arms blindly, it was magic. I feel sorry for the poor dancers that followed because they just had to jump and leap higher.

Jeanette and Brandon, Season 5: I honestly could just say watch Ovation to find reruns of seasons 2-5 and you’ll see the best of everything. Season 5  is also the last one performed on the old stage, which is why I picked this piece. This piece was my favorite because it was playful, used the stairs and different stage levels well and turned from the usual dramatic, overwrought contemporary and jazz pieces. Plus, you knew Wade Robson choreographed it before it even begins…and not because he’s in the previous clips. Come back, Wade!

Ellenore and Jakob, Season 6: This is another Sonya piece that has the dancers doing crazy extensions. I’m pretty sure Jakob has no hip bones. The song is haunting, “Somewhere you’re fast asleep/I hope you’re terrified/ because you tore my heart.” Dang. Love. It. I also love how Sonya uses the downbeat to make the movement quicker and a little spastic.

Kent and Neil, Season 7: Season 6 was a little weird because it was on in the fall, the judging was rushed, the finale had zero exposition about the choreography. The new stage swallowed everyone. Season 7 was a small return to form. Dancing hero, and expected winner Alex Freaking Wong was out early, but lots of good stuff came even after his exit, including this piece. This song was over played by this point, but the play of the light and dark forces in your life is still poignant, even if it is a little on the nose. Wouldn’t everything be better if we could just dance it out to some great music?

Lauren F. and Twitch, Season 7: Speaking of awesome stuff coming out of Season 7, we got the All-Stars. That meant Stephen “Twitch” Boss and Allison Holker and Travis Wall and all these past fan favorites came back in force. Lauren is one of those “cute” dancers, but I think this piece solidified her win among the tweens. She’s parent friendly and a bad-ass that wants to grown up to be a teacher.

Robert and Allison, Season 7: This is one these exact pieces that I think having the vets around elevated the contestants. Robert was under the radar. I would forget who he was half the time and call him Andy because he looks like my friend Andy. But armed with an emotional story from choreographer Travis Wall, a Coldplay song that most people do love, and Allison on his arm, he couldn’t be forgettable. Travis, a contestant in Season 2, has many commendable pieces. I also suggest watching this one from Season 5.

Sasha and Twitch, Season 8: Another example of an All-Star elevating the contestant. Twitch smolders with any of his partners. Taking a song that just exudes heat and frustration and pairing it with Twitch had to get some kind of emotion of the girl who was trying to be so tough every week. It was one of the few weeks I was glad she was better than eventual winner Melanie Moore, because I thought it made Melanie work harder.

Melanie and Neil, Season 8: OK, there’s nothing cheesier than what I’m already writing about, right? Well add a topping of white pants and a white flowing dress and Bonnie Tyler and it’s just beyond ridiculous. So is Melanie’s freaking jump. It’s amazing. I’m pretty sure girlfriends were flinging themselves off the couch and face-planting when their boyfriends didn’t understand what had gotten into them.

Eliana and Alex, Season 9: I listened to “Bang, Bang” for a week straight after seeing this. This was probably one of the first routines this seasons where Eliana was truly matched with someone at her skill level and you could see her just soak up every moment in the routine. Her and Alex’s motions just kind of hang in the music like no one else exists and they are really a couple at the end of their relationship. It’s beautiful.

Have a favorite routine? I know I didn’t include them all because there really could be a Top 50 list. So, hit the comments and share your links. You can also click here to watch Nigel Lythgoe’s top 15 dances from the first five seasons.

When (Season) two is better than one

With the new season of Mad Men just around the corner, I also start my annual “convert everyone to good TV” mission. I have good intentions, really. People still watch 2 1/2 Men and until that ends, my mission will continue.

As I gush about my favorite episodes and my borderline obsession with Peggy, I was reminded that my favorite season is still No. 2. But it isn’t just for Mad Men. A lot of my current and past favorite shows had amazing second seasons. Everyone always touts the freshman standout or loves to name the exact moment a series “jumped the shark.” This post is praise for the shows that hit the sweet spot while still managing to up the stakes for the storyline.

The Office
I am still the loser that watches this every week because of two people – Jim and Pam. I’m not usually one to be a ‘shipper, but they are the reason I stuck it out past the so-so Season 1 and then went into full-on swoon mode by the finale of Season 2.

The writers also had an all-star lineup of classic TV in the making: The Injury [WATCH THIS!], The Dundies, Christmas Party, Booze Cruise, and of course Casino Night. There isn’t an episode in that season that I haven’t rewatched at least five times. The writers also managed to flesh Dwight out as the sympathetic guy who just needed love from the office ninny, Angela. Both the Jim+Pam and Dwight+Angela relationships could have floundered – and did – later in the series. However, the set up made me feel uncomfortable, happy, annoyed, dismayed, and all kinds of other emotions – exactly what good writing and acting should make you feel.

This is still one of my favorite moments from the series:

Mad Men
As I’m trying to convert everyone to this sometimes slow, but always beautiful show, I’m always reminded that most of my favorite episodes come from Season 2. I loved the bookended story of Anna in Don’s life, I love how Peggy and Pete have to deal with their past relationships and I love how Don’s aging starts to catch up with him as the hip, new ’60s generation starts to move in. The only thing I didn’t love was the Bobby Barrett storyline, but I’m not going to lie, I still love the scenes where Don does what he does best – treats a woman like men tend to treat a woman. But the scenes were just so well-played, it’s hard to still hate him.

My favorite moment is from the episode “Maidenform.” By this point, Peggy’s gone through a back-and-forth with her family and her co-workers about if she can still be the cute, nice, Catholic girl with the ponytail, or if she has to shed that in order to become a modern lady. I think knowing how to be a woman in the working world and Peggy’s issues were relatable, even if it was 50 years ago. From the opening montage of all the “Men” ladies getting dressed to the closing sequence of Peggy deciding to play in the boys club, but bringing her assets to the table, too, it was just perfect. Plus, it was soundtracked by The Decemberists. It really doesn’t get much better.

Happy Endings
What I love about this show is that it takes a common saying or TV que – like crickets to a dead statement – and kicks it up a notch – but having an actual cricket infestation in said room where the statement dropped like hot potato.

So much happens in this show so quickly that I can rewatch it and still not catch everything. Some people don’t like that. I say those people aren’t smart.

Part of what made Season 2 great was the writers put the initial draw of Alex and Dave’s break up on the back burner and kicked Penny and Max’s hapless life to the front. Hangout comedies should make you want to be with that group of friends. I’m pretty sure I’m in denial and think that I actually already hang out with these folks.

Ex. 1 of awesomeness: Max is a bear. He literally hibernates in the winter. That’s my life.

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Ex. 2 of awesome: Hold your horses. No, really.

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Cougar Town
This show has people with botoxed faces. This show is just people drinking wine. This show isn’t about cougars or cougar ladies.

To you, I say shut your face. I would love to live in a world where Laurie Keller was my side kick and I had friends that had a never-ending budget for a never-ending drink supplies.

What made Season 2 amazing was how the show actually dealt with their characters that didn’t really have plans. And the characters that had plans, well they grew up a bit, too. I particularly enjoyed their trek to Hawaii to save the youngest member of the Cul-de-Sac crew, Travis. He had a broken heart, bombed out of college, and was kicked out of the house by his mom. And what great show hasn’t had a Hawaii moment? (Full House, Modern Family, My Wife and Kids….well….maybe not.) But! there are terrific moments where Laurie shows why she’s the best side kick.

Laurie: “I’m gonna say something now that Meredith Baxter Birney has said in every TV movie I have ever seen: “I…will not give up on that boy.”

There’s also Penny Can, Big Carl (May he RIP), and snarky Ellie.

Dummies

Dontbother

Grey’s Anatomy
I don’t even know what this show is these days, but there was once upon a time where this was must watch TV for most college women I knew. Season 2 brought us Addison, Mark “McSteamy” Sloan, Callie + George, and Izzie + Denny.

Other than the overuse of “LVAD,” even pathetic moments like Meredith’s, “Pick me, love me, choose me” speech was gold.

One of my favorite moments was from the “It’s the end of the world episode.” Christina Ricci and Kyle Chandler guest starred in the epic post-Super Bowl episode where a bomb comes into the hospital. Below is a compilation overlaid with the sappy Snow Patrol. Stroll down guilty pleasure memory lane.

Breaking Bad
I don’t know how this show just. gets. better. Season 2 was definitely not the peak for Walter White & Co. However, knowing so many promising series flounder their golden opportunities, Season 2 can be seen as the season that set up the momentum for the rest of the series. The season starts with black and white shots of an eyeball floating in the White’s pool, thus beginning a season of flash backs and loose ends.

There was also another beloved show that did this over 6 seasons – LOST – and they didn’t really deliver on all those loose ends.

Thankfully, Breaking Bad delivered. The eyeball continues to roll around in kitchen drawers and act as a reminder to Walt about a series of events that took away any hint of a good guy.

My favorite episode that season was “Four days out” where Jesse and Walter are out in the desert cooking. It’s one of the last times that RV heads out to the desert with Walt and Jesse on the same team. They’ve always had their issues, but now Jesse works out of fear, not trying to prove he is a better man. There’s also those lovely sweeping visuals of New Mexico.

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What are some of your favorite seasons of TV?

Couch Potato 2010, also known as TV premiere week

September is awesome for many reasons. The start of fall, pumpkin spice lattes, my birthday, vacation week, camping, etc. But the week the TV schedule gets ridiculously busy with new shows kinda has my heart. I even print out a calendar with premier nights to post on the fridge.

It’s the return of my favorite characters and a chance to fill the void that shows like Ugly Betty and LOST left. I’m not apologetic about ignoring phone calls or strategically scheduling things around watching shows. And not having cable, DVR, internet or tons of free time means if I don’t catch it immediately,  chances are I won’t watch it.

So, here’s what’s on my radar this week:

Monday: This is the first fall in three years that I haven’t had something every Monday night. The only show on my MUST list is Lone Star (FOX, 9 p.m.), which in its simplest terms is about a man leading a double life. It seems like character development and writing is a premium from what I’ve read, so I’m already hooked. Plus, Tyra from Friday Night Lights is on it and I feel an obligation to support her and her sassy mouth.

Runners-up: HIMYM (CBS, 8 p.m.): I haven’t watched this show from the beginning, but I think I can watch it at the gym and be distracted from my ribs hurting. Hopefully they will be hurting from laughing and not me being out of shape. And I really think the Mother will be revealed this season and I don’t want to be left out of that moment.

Castle (ABC, 10 p.m.), Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 10 p.m.): I watch Castle when it’s on mostly because of Nathan Fillion’s awkward turtle moments, but it isn’t appointment TV. I’ll wait for my dad to call me about the Five-O to see if it’s worth having something to talk to him about.

Tuesday: Glee (FOX, 8 p.m.) is my show. Random breaking out in song is how my family really lives and Sue Sylvester is my hero. If I said half the things I wanted to, I’d wear a track suit and just work from HR.

Raising Hope (FOX, 9 p.m.) and Running Wilde (FOX, 9:30 p.m.): Both of these shows look good in traditional sit-com concept (Hope about a single dad living with his parents, Wilde about an environmental advocate living with in a mansion with her non-green counterpart), plus I think they could be brain-dead TV so if I miss one episode while I’m at County Council, I won’t feel like I missed out on something.

Parenthood (NBC, 10 p.m.): So, this is the show I hate to love. I originally started watching it because of Peter Krause and Lauren Graham. But the first few episodes were uneven and I turned it off until the last few snippets of last season and got sucked back in. I love Krause’s autistic son and how he’s the voice of reason despite being the kid I’d run over with a grocery cart at the store. I just wish the Erika Christiansen’s family would have that other baby and move away. Their stay-at-home dad/workaholic mom story line bores me.

Runners up: The Biggest Loser (NBC, 8 p.m.) Once I stop, I can’t seem to look away. Plus, I’d rather support them than fame hogging non-celebrities on other reality TV shows.

Giving up: Life Unexpected (FOX, 9 p.m.) You’re well, not unexpected. It’s the watered-down version of a never-ending Saturday morning special with better hair. My left big toe could write it.

Wednesday: ABC Comedy block, 8-10 p.m. (The Middle, Better With You, Modern Family, Cougar Town) I can take or leave BWY, but the rest fuel my quotable moments for the week. I wish more people watched The Middle so I can say “I’m lying” under my breath like Brick. They just think I’m nuts. And Cougar Town is what I imagine life to be like in 10-15 years – completely dysfunctional with lots of love and mid-day drinks.

L&O: SVU, (NBC, 9 p.m.): NBC needs to die a little bit for not putting this on at 10 p.m., but I’ll do what I can to watch during commercials of the other shows and catch during repeats. After skipping all of last season and jonesing for Benson and Stabler this summer, I’m ready for their return to my living room.

Runners-up: Um, no one. It’s already overloaded.

Giving up: L&O LA – I can’t support putting a sunnier version of the original on the air when the original was cancelled before the LA version was even cast or scripted. It’s every cliché of horses, carts and apples. And a rotten one at that.

Thursday: Also known as I don’t have a social life because I’m with my other friends.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.) I wish this show had been on when I was in high school so I could knock on my bathroom door relentlessly in the morning before school to get the siblings out. I’m just sad I didn’t think of it first.

Other than that, the rest is up for grabs. I’ve been unimpressed by Grey’s Anatomy, but I’m not gonna lie, my eyes were covered and I was squirming during the finale so I’m interested to see if the momentum carries over. 30 Rock is always good TV, but not appointment. One week I could need a Frank or Kenneth fix, but I’m not sad if something else strikes my fancy. The Office has to bring it. I don’t even remember half of last season or the finale despite the fact that I watched all the episodes. I don’t care if it’s Michael’s last season, I will abandon it like a baby on the doorstep if it’s doesn’t find a glimmer of its former self. Nikita (FOX, 9 p.m.) has gotten raves from critics. It’s another one I’m waiting on my dad to filter out for me. And I don’t put it past me to cheat on Jim Halpert with Shane West.

Sundays: Open. I might drop in to Desperate Housewives (the same place it’s been for 7 years), but eh. I’ll probably read instead.

What are you watching? Any non-cable recommendations?

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