Many sitcoms have relied on a long unrequited love to keep viewers watching (i.e., Sam and Diane on Cheers, Rachel and Ross on Friends, Niles and Daphne on Frasier). Keeping the lovers apart keeps the sizzle in the plotline.
This tried and true formula was in place Pam and Jim for the first three seasons of The Office. It looked like the formula might be changing in Season 4, when they finally admitted their feelings for each other. Then Pam decided to take a leave of absence from Dunder Mifflin and move to New York for a few months to enroll in a design course, and the relationship was again put on hold. In 2008’s Season 5, we again began to wonder if Jim and Pam would ever get together.
My favorite episodes of 2008 involved Pam and Jim’s relationship, along with the always goofy antics of the rest of The Office crew.
Top Office Episode #1, “Goodbye Toby”
In the final for Season 4, Toby is leaving Dunder Mifflin and moving to Costa Rica, and Michael is so overjoyed that he plans a huge going away party. Angela balks over planning the party, so Phyllis takes over. She goes all out and gets carnival rides and a band.
Holly, the new HR representative is introduced, and Michael initially transfers his negative feelings towards Toby to her. She wins him over by acting like she also dislikes Toby, and Michael is suddenly in love with her. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Jan is pregnant from a sperm bank donation, and Michael agrees to be involved in the pregnancy and attend Lamaze classes with her. Michael’s train wreck love life continues.
Jim has decided to propose to Pam at Toby’s going away party, but just when he’s about to pop the question, Andy publicly proposes to Angela. Jim holds off, and Pam is visibly disappointed. As the episode ends, Phyllis walks in on Angela and Dwight locked in embrace on a desk. Will she really go through with marriage with Andy?
Top Office Episode #2, “Employee Transfer”
Halloween at The Office makes an appearance in the hilarious pre-credit sequence of this Season 5 episode. The best costume was Creed’s take on Heath Ledger’s Joker, upstaging Kevin and Dwight. Andy as a kitten from the musical “Cats” was the most disturbing. In New York, poor Pam dressed as Charlie Chaplin, then discovered that no one else wore a costume at corporate. To make things worse, she realized that if she took off her hat she looked like Hitler.
The rest of the episode centered on Holly’s forced transfer to the Nashua office, following disclosure of her relationship with Michael. One of the best moments in the show was Darryl, Michael and Holly in the moving truck, singing “Life is a Highway” at the top of their lungs. As Michael and Holly said goodbye, you couldn’t help but think that he was letting the perfect woman for him slip away.
Back in the office, Dwight and Andy engaged in a running battle over a Cornell sweatshirt. The interaction between these two is always one of the funniest things on the show.
Jim and Pam have finally made their engagement public knowledge. Jim visited Pam in New York, and had dinner with his two brothers and Pam to celebrate the engagement. When the brothers turned the tables on a prank Pam tried to play on Jim, we got a glimpse into what looked like a lot of bullying at the hands of these two in Jim’s past. We’re left wondering if this episode will have a negative impact on Pam and Jim’s budding love.
Top Office Episode #3, “Frame Toby”
Michael is surprised and shocked to find that Toby has returned from Costa Rica and is back to work at the Scranton branch. Michael is so upset that he attempts to frame Toby by planting ‘weed’ in his desk. What ensues is farcical, with Michael making a drug deal and the police being called. The bag of ‘weed’ turns out to be caprese salad (purchased by Michael for $500, an amount he apparently carries around in his wallet), and the attempted frame fails.
Jim has bought the house he grew up in from his mother and is planning to surprise Pam with it. Word leaks out, and everyone in the office finds out before Pam. Based on how this situation is handled on other shows, we can’t help but wonder if Pam will freak out that Jim has bought a house for the two of them without consulting her. In face, an episode of “Brothers and Sister” which aired the same week had one character leaving the room in a snit after his partner bought him a house.
The episode ended with Jim surprising Pam with the house. We were left in suspense about her feelings as she walked through the house. When Jim asked her what she thought, she threw her arms around him and said, “You bought me a house!” What a great moment, my faith in true love was renewed.
It looks like Ryan will be leaving the series again. After reappearing following his humiliation in New York, he announces to Kelly that he’s off on a trip to Thailand. Once he got Kelly to break up with Darryl, he can’t get away from her fast enough. And isn’t that sometimes exactly what happens in real life?