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"The Office" Season Four: A Wish List

What's that? A wish list for the fourth season of The Office?

Sure, we won't be getting any new episodes of The Office until this fall, but with all the returning series going back into production in the next few weeks and The Office getting a monumental 30-episode order for next season, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give the writer/producers of my favorite comedy my wish list for Season Four.

Jim and Pam. Like most Office fans, I was thrilled to see Jim and Pam finally, sort of, get together at the end of last season. Not with a momentous kiss but with a simple request for dinner that brilliantly underplayed the tension that has been building in the series for the last three years. (That said, I did love Rashida Jones' Karen and wish that they could have kept her around as a foil for Pam.)

This being a wish list rather than a love letter, I don't want to see Jim and Pam go down the Friends road, with the season being devoted to a back and forth tennis match of are-they-or-aren't-they together. These two are not Ross and Rachel (nor do I hope they will be) and I don't want the soapy emotional beats where they have a fight, break up, cheat while "on a break" and ultimately end up back together. I'm hoping that, having given the fans what they wanted, these two retreat into the background a little and just, you know, date. No more sturm und drang or sappy NBC promos promising a reunion or their first time together. Blech. No, I want these two to date and The Office to remain true to what it set out to be: a satirical look at office workers. So let's just let these two kids go out a few times and see if they click and how they negotiate dating and working together.

Location, Location, Location. Let's keep it low-key in Season Four. Sure, it's fun to see the Dunder-Mifflin gang outside of the office every now and then but let's make sure it's organic ("Booze Cruise" or "A Benihana Christmas") rather than forced ("Initiation"). After all, the show is called The Office, not The Office Takes a Field Trip Every Week.

Meredith. Please for the love of Ed Truck, find something for Meredith to do. Kate Flannery is far too talented an actor and comedian to be relegated to the background time and time again. While I love the fact that Meredith is a blatant alcoholic and sometimes nymphomaniac, I want to see her character deepened in the same way that Angela, Phyllis, Toby, Kelly, Oscar, Kevin, and Stanley have been. Please?

Simplicity in the storylines. One of the reasons I love this series is the way it reflects a lot of our daily lives. I might work in the television industry, but at the end of the day, I still work in an office and relate to what these characters are going through. I hope that we can see a return to some of these more simplistic storylines rather than the manic zaniness of some of the more high concept episodes (like, say, "Initiation" again). Can we say no more workplace strippers (real or otherwise) in any more Office episodes?

Michael. I want to see a slightly more toned down Michael next year. Michael works best when he's socially clueless and out of touch with culture, reality, and his employees but never so much that he become cartoonish. There were moments where Michael's behavior bordered too much on the unbelievable last season ("Phyllis' Wedding") and I hope that the writers will take a zero tolerance policy on this happening again. Don't ever sacrifice Steve Carell's comedic chops for an easy laugh. Sorry, but there's no negotiating this one.

Corporate power play. I'm hoping that Ryan's new position will invigorate his storyline and switch up the paradigm between him and Michael, who has made Ryan into an object of, er, affection over the last three seasons. I love the fact that the season ended with the former temp--and MBA holder--receiving that major promotion over Michael and taking over for Jan. Hopefully, Ryan will pop in and out of the Scranton offices from time to time and things will be very uncomfortable between him and former paramour Kelly Kapoor. That I can't wait to see.

Jan Levinson (No Gould). I'm super-thrilled that Melora Hardin will be back next season for some more shame spiraling following her sacking at the end of the third season. Now that she's hit rock bottom (lost her job and gained a new, er, profile and is back with Michael), there's nowhere to go but up and I hope that the writers plan Jan's climb back to the top with all of the humor and aplomb due to this out of control woman. But to start: can we see her move in with Michael? Cohabitating with your fired boss? Comedy gold.

And there you have it. My wish list for what I hope we'll see in The Office's fourth season. But I'm curious to find out what's on your wish lists for next season and what you hope the writers and producers change/continue/adapt. Any suggestions?

Comments

ticknart said…
I've been wondering about that 30 episode order.

Are all the episodes going to be aired during the 2007-2008 season, or will a signifigant part of that order be held for the '08-'09 season in case there is a strike next spring?

Anybody know?
Anonymous said…
Excellent wish list. I wholeheartedly agree.
Anonymous said…
I'll second that wish list! (And I love your photo too!)
Unknown said…
I think your comments about Michael can easily apply to Dwight as well. He's funnier when he's not so over-the-top wacky. As with Meredith, I'd like to see more Toby. His quiet downtrodden attitude is very well done.
Anonymous said…
Didn't really see a better place to post this...but I must say, I'm surprised that you haven't seen or commented on "The Closer" on TNT - a show so well crafted, wry, engaging - and highly recommended to be seen from the beginning. Kyra Sedgwick definitely earned that 07 Golden Globe.
Anonymous said…
The perfect wish list. I'm in complete agreement with what you said. The Office suffers when it forgets its mission statement and loses sight of where the comedy is meant to come from. I don't want JAM in my face or Benjamin Franklin strippers or beet farms, I want office-driven comedy!
Anonymous said…
it's sad that people don't want see more jim and pam, but i guess that's not the reason people watch the show tho it's the main reason i do.
Anonymous said…
As always, I'm in complete agreement with you. One only hopes that someone involved with THE OFFICE will read this and take a hint from what the viewing public wants--and needs--to see next season.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the wish list...but it will be hard to keep everything in the office with Ryan in NY, the possibility of Kelly causing hell for the boy would include some traveling/out of the office moments, and if you want to see Jan--she is unemployed, and while she might be in the office occasionally, it would be a stretch for her to be in it constantly. So, if you want that comedy, they might have to take a bit of a field trip (almost) every week.
Anonymous said…
Anon,

Ryan and Jan are definitely NOT going to be in it every week. That's been abundantly clear already and neither of them have appeared in every episode the past two seasons. I'd expect both of them to pop in and out as the story dictates.
Anonymous said…
Great wish list. I hope the writers on The Office listen to what an intelligent and honest fan has to say about the series. I couldn't have put it better myself
Anonymous said…
Everyone's already said it, but great wish list. I agree with everything that people have said but I would like to see more Jan and hope that she isn't off the show.
Emily N. said…
Hear, hear!

I definitely agree with nearly everything on your list, especially a return to more realistic office-type humor and less over-the-top Michael (that wedding stuff was hard to watch). I'm still not sure what the best thing to do with Jan is though.
Matt said…
You can add my name to the people agreeing with your wish list.

As much as I love the Office, last season became a little too soap opera-ish for my tastes. Finally bringing some direction to the Pam/Jim relationship should be a welcome change and hopefully put the focus back on the weird and wonderfully mundane that make the Office so special.
Anonymous said…
anyone for dwight and angela getting "discovered"?
Anonymous said…
This isn't a big story-arc wish list addition, just a one-episode scenario suggestion. I used to work as a volunteer coordinator at a nonprofit, and corporate volunteerism is a BIG trend these days--lots of companies are looking for one-off opportunities for their employees. I'd LOVE to see some of our Office friends at a food pantry or an afterschool program or something--just imagine the shenanigans!
Anonymous said…
Hey, great list, I totally agree with the Jim and Pam thing-I mean I love them, but I'd hate to see it become like Gilmore Girls did in the end (for all those people who know what I'm talking about)I wouldn't want to loose the rest of the characters. As for hoping the writers see this,whoever wrote it, it would be great to post it on myspace-maybe send it to Jenna Fischer because I've heard her say on occasion that she really does use it-and we're really lucky because the actors seem to have a lot of input with the show! The 30 episodes are awesome but also sorta have me worried- Is it coming back for Season 5???? I'm desperate on this so I'd love to know if anyone else does! Thanks (Sorry this is so long)
Anonymous said…
wow that wishlist is pretty good, but i think that it could use one little improvement, no Karen. she ruined it for Jim. She just hurt the integrety of the show. But I do agree with whoever said that Dwight and Angela being discovered. Their undercover romance thing has been really funny and I think if it were to be discovered Kevin should be the one to discover it. Great list!
Anonymous said…
love the wishlist! i totally agree that jam should be together and have their cute moments but not take over the show. i can't wait for the new season to start!
Anonymous said…
Love the list! I totally agree!

And now that Ryan is going to New York Jim gets his old desk back!
megan8472 said…
Great wish list. The show needs improvement. The "Phyllis' Wedding" episode was Michael's weakest. Overstated and silly is not funny. No sane man would behave that extreme. The "Beach Games" episode was as annoying or worse. Renting a bus, hauling the employees to a lake in the middle of no-where and making them compete for Michael’s current job? A hot dog eating contest? Sumo wrestling? Walking on hot coals? Who wrote that? The best comedy is an exaggeration of real life, something possible. "Cocktails" was just as absurd for Dwight. Who climbs on the roof of their CEO’s home, knocks the chimney’s metal grate off, then shakes the brick? That is not the cold, calculated Dwight we all love. (Dwight has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but even he knows better.) The writers need to remember: Less is more. The writers need to be careful with the Jim/Pam relationship. It could easily become another Sam Malone/Diane Chambers or Rachel/Ross story arc. The Cheers/Friends romances all were roughly this: (first) they fall in love, (second) the relationship falters, (third) they brake-up and date someone new, and (last) they fall in love again, usually during a mid-season or more popular season ending “cliff-hanger.” This may be interesting the first few times, but after several seasons the “will they or won’t they” story line loses its flavor. It becomes boring, repetitive, and worse, predictable.
Anonymous said…
Good wishlist, and I second your thoughts on Jim and Pam- we dont need to see them go down the same stupid sitcom road of RossRachel, SamDiane- the characters on this show are so well written, well acted, and this show and these actors have a chance to show us the ins and outs of a real office relationship. It would be great to watch the writers explore this. And its great to have real Jim back- Season 3 Jim SUCKED, except for the moments he shared with Pam, or the time he came in as Dwight! The only thing I think you got a little wrong is that we want to see them happy together! I want some good romatic moments, I want to be able to revel in their relationship. We had to wait 3 whole seasons to get them! BRING BACK SEASON 2 JIM PAM CHEMISTRY, but with them dating!

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