The Office: Secret Santa

As I’ve mentioned on this blog once or twice before, NBC’s The Office is one of my favorite TV shows. Now in its sixth season, this is the fourth time we’ve been treated to a Christmas party with the staff of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton. (The first season didn’t begin until the spring, and season four was shortened due to the writer’s strike.) It’s been a rough year for our favorite paper company. Sure, Jim and Pam are married and expecting, and Jim has been promoted to Michael’s co-manager, but the promotion won’t meant much if the company’s financial difficulties aren’t resolved. But it’s not all bad. This year, Phyllis is finally living her dream — playing Santa Claus for the office party, and everyone is happy… except Michael. As he revolts against the cross-dressing Santa, he places a call to CEO David Wallace that may make the whole thing moot.

I re-watched the episode before I sat down to review it, and I was astonished when I realized just how much is going on in this one. Besides the Phyllis vs. Mike Santa Claus controversy and the ongoing Dunder-Mifflin financial crisis, there are a good half-dozen stories going on here, both continuing and one-shots. The “Secret Santa” gift exchange makes a surprisingly good backdrop for multiple stories. We’ve got Dwight, who is receiving a mysterious mechanical gift one part at a time. Andy is hoping to keep Erin from learning that he’s her Secret Santa, after some of his gifts… um… injured her. Pam decides she’s going to play matchmaker for Oscar, and Dwight even touches briefly upon his “diabolical scheme” to out Jim from his new position of authority.

But Michael is really the core of this episode. His childish attitude towards Phyllis leads him to a discovery that has a pretty profound effect that ultimately leads to some really tender moments. That’s the key to Michael’s character. He’s often selfish, thoughtless, and immature, but at his heart he’s a decent guy who genuinely cares for the people in his office, at least all the ones who aren’t named “Toby.” This episode allows us to see that.

I’m not sure when the next new episode of the show will be. In fact, even checking on TV.com, there doesn’t seem to be a schedule yet. I suspect we’re going to have one of those situations where, when we return from the hiatus, a lot of things will have changed. This episode certainly leaves one big ball up in the air for our characters. But taken on its own, this may be the best Christmas episode of The Office yet. If you missed it, pop on over to Hulu.com and check it out.

And speaking of checking out…

Don’t forget!

I’ve got some Christmas stories of my own out there waiting for you! If you’re a fan of the audio book/podcast format, check out Blake M. Petit’s Evercast, in which I serialize novels, present short stories, and give lots of other great content. This December, I’m presenting my Christmas-themed novella A Long November.

If you’d rather read your words than have them read to you, you can also get A Long November and eight other short stories in a totally free (until January) eBook edition, suitable for reading on the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Stanza Reader, PDA, any number of other devices, or even the very computer upon which you’re reading this blog! Check out the eBook at Smashwords.com!

And finally, my friends, I’d just like to ask you to pass these links along to anyone you know who may like the stories. I’m not making a dime out of this, I’m doing it to spread the word and build an audience, and any help you could provide would be a huge help to me.

Thanks a lot, and have a Merry Christmas!

1 Response to “The Office: Secret Santa”

  1. December 11, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    While I didn’t personally think it brought the funny as much as previous Holiday episodes – Benihana Christmas is probably my favourite – it was of course a very good episode, and Andy jamming along with the 12 drummers drumming was one of the best little moments, and thinking back, you were right about the numerous little stories; the other one that stands out for me was Pam’s interest in Oscar and the warehouse guy. They pulled it together well.

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