A Scranton Holiday: The Office Christmas Episode Spectacular

It’s officially Christmas time! It’s the season of bad Best Buy commercials, girls using Instagram filters to make Christmas trees look cool, and getting stuck with someone you don’t want in your Secret Santa pool at work. But one of my favorite things about this time of year, are special Christmas episodes on TV. Who could forget when Mr. Hyunh from Hey Arnold found his daughter on Christmas night after being apart their entire lives? Or when Bart burned down the Christmas tree and all the presents on The Simpsons?

Christmas episodes have been a staple of television since the beginning of time. And no TV show did it better than The Office. The Christmas episode was always appointment viewing of every season, as the Dunder Mifflin crew left a wonderful 22-minute present under our trees every year. So let’s hop into the sleigh and head to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and celebrate Christmas Dunder Mifflin style, as we look back through the years of The Office Christmas episodes.

(Editors Note: Season’s 1 and 4 didn’t have Christmas episodes. Season 1 because it was only 6 episodes, and season 4 because of the awful writers strike that stole countless amounts of great television from us across all shows.)

Season 2: Christmas Party Oh Jim, you are a friggin gift giving inspiration aren’t you? Jim’s teapot gift for Pam full of inside jokes and a letter professing his love is top of the line cheese. Cheese like Ossau Iraty and Wooly Rind. Yeah I just went hardcore rich people cheese on you, what about it? I’m cultured as hell.

The classic “White Elephant” game gives you a slight glimpse into each person’s personality. And, as usual, Michael takes the cake buying a video iPod for Ryan. Basically encompassing every awful thing a person can do on Christmas, Michael brags about how much money he spent, openly hates Phyllis’s homemade gift, and is predictably tone deaf about what everyone else in the group wants. God I miss him.

It does all lead to the legendary line “Happy Birthday Jesus, sorry your party sucks” and also the scene where he asks if 15 handles of vodka is “enough to get 20 people plastered”’

At one point, Roy and Darryl are in the break room having a fantasy football conversation. This is word for word what they say while Pam stands there with an “ugh so bored” look on her face every woman gets when fantasy football gets mentioned.

Roy: After I lost TO and Culpepper I thought it was over man”
Darryl: “I need McMahon and Deon Branch to have big games or else I’m done”
Roy: “It’s possible, I can’t believe you traded Shaun Alexander man!”
Darryl: “I had to, I needed defense”
Roy: “Come on Shaun Alexander? He’s the best back in the league”
Darryl: “Its defense”
Roy: “Aw no, it’s not worth it”
Darryl: “It is worth it, are you kiddin? You wait”

So this episode aired December 6th 2005, so let’s hypothetically act like that’s when this conversation took place. That means that NFL had just finished up Week 14, the normal end of the regular season in most fantasy leagues, and heading into the playoffs. Shaun Alexander was the number one player in fantasy football that season and finished the year with 1880 yard and 27 touchdowns, just to give you an idea of how dominant he actually was that year. Even if he traded for Tampa Bay, fantasy’s number one defnese in 2005, he would have only gotten roughly 33 cents on his dollar. So basically Darryl traded the number one overall player for an unnamed defense going into the playoffs he was presumably in. Everyone who plays fantasy football is right now shaking their head about how absolutely ludicrous that is. His reasoning? “It’s worth it, you kidding? You wait”. My question is, how did that league let that trade go through? Why isn’t Roy more mad about it? They’re grown-ups they’re probably playing for legit money. That reeks of collusion to high heaven. I demand this fantasy football commissioner go back and retroactively declare that season bullshit

We end the episode with Jim chickening out on giving his letter to Pam, pulling out at the last minute (that’s what she said). JIM STOP BEING A WUSS!

PPC Update: I’m going to take a little space in each season and dedicate it to one of the most subtly funny running gags throughout the show, the Party Planning Committee. In this season Ryan gets drafted into the PPC by Angela because she says “They need to prepare for every kind of disaster”. Also the seeds of Angela hating Phyllis are planted with the lackluster tree lighting So as of right now the roster is Angela, Phyllis, Pam, and Ryan. I swear this is important.

Best Creed Moment: I also going to take a space in each section to dedicate to my favorite TV character of all time, Creed Bratton.

Season 3: A Benihana Christmas One of my favorite tongue-in-cheek things to do around this time of year, is to ask for something ridiculous with the reasoning being “it’s Christmas”. Which is exactly what Dwight does in the opening when Toby won’t let him roast a duck in the office.

Michael Photoshopping himself into a picture of his girlfriend Carol’s kids and ex-husband on a ski trip is such a quintessential Michael Scott move. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some big time iffy moves when it comes to the ladies, so I can put myself in his shoes a bit here. But, that’s just…..well it’s a little much. After Carol dumps Michael he walks out of his office and this exchange follows

Michael: I’d like everybody’s attention. Christmas is cancelled
Stanley: You can’t cancel a holiday
Michael: Keep it up Stanley, and you will lose New Years
Stanley: What does that mean
Michael: Jim take New Years away from Stanley

At the office, Karen and Pam go through the beginning stages of “two girls who like the same guy” syndrome, fueled by Pam and Karen joining up to openly feud with the Party Planning Committee. Which leads us to our first organic Party Planning Committee Update! It’s now an Angela/Phyllis/Pam/Karen/Meredith starting five, until Karen decides to get a little frisky and start jacking up a couple contested jumpers and suggest things the people the transferred from Stamford with Jim would feel more comfortable with. Well, this is Angela’s team and she’s having none of that. She promptly tells Karen to GTFO.

Because of this, and because Karen is Jim’s girlfriend, Pam feels the need to squad-up with Karen and become BFF’s. These two running around together also gives us the gift of Jim Face #287

Outside of the office Michael rounds up Andy, Dwight, Jim, and Ryan to go to lunch at Benihana’s. Ryan gets out of it with this master stroke of unparalleled genius, then preens like a peacock in Jim’s face while he keeps going.

Jim and Ryan always had a very low key great relationship. When they kind of sort of connected in the beginning as two semi-normal people in the room, but too cool to be friends. Then Ryan became his boss and treated him like he “won” because he got the job and Jim didn’t. At the end it was Ryan’s complete downfall and Jim mimicking Ryan’s smugness towards him when the rolls were reversed. It was only thrown in your face a handful of times over the 9 seasons, but when you really look back it is constantly there in the undercurrent. Just another example of how great the writing was for a show they could have easily screwed up.

Something that I didn’t catch over at least 100 viewings is that Michael brought two waitresses who were dressed as samurai’s back to the party that weren’t even the ones he and Andy were oggling over. How have I never noticed that before? I truly hope I’m also shedding light on this information with some of you readers so I don’t feel like such a dumb-ass. Please get at me on Twitter if I wasn’t the only one.

The episode wraps up with a nice Jim and Michael moment sitting on the couch by the front desk. Jim gives Michael the advice that the waitress he struck out with was just a rebound and that it’s healthy, while also kind of describing his own situation with Karen. Karen was such an interesting character because you really really wanted to hate her. Nobody didn’t want Jim and Pam together, but Karen was just so cool it became impossible to hate her. To this day the only Office fans I know who don’t like her are females, just because they’ve all been in the exact position Pam was in at that time.

Best Creed Moment: When Creed takes a toy from the Toy Drive box and Jim says “Oh Creed, I think you’re supposed to put a toy in the box”. Creed replies with “And a happy holiday to you”, pats Jim on the back, and walks away.

Season 5: Moroccan Christmas

Office Christmas parties are a time of year to spend even more moments than normal with the same people you see day in and day out. You drink a little too much and say a few too many things you’ll regret. It’s the circle of office life in America. Well, here in Scranton, PA, some secrets are spilled, but not exactly how it usually goes.

PPC Update: Let’s start real early with this one, as the Party Planning Committee, and it’s inner-politics, uncomfortably sits in the forefront of the episode. At the end of Season 4, Phyllis walked in on Angela and Dwight getting down in accounting town, just minutes after Andy proposed to her during Toby’s going away party. Afterwards, we come to find out Phyllis has used that power to leverage her way to becoming the Fuhrer of the PPC.

During the Moroccan themed Christmas party, to the surprise of only the blind and deaf, Merideth gets wicked hammered. While she is doing some sort of strange arm-waving, tribal sashay that can only conjure memories of the summer I spent in college living with and being friends with hipsters who did the same exact dance while listening to Phish on their front porch, she sets her hair ablaze prompting Michael to arrange an impromptu Intervention.

I tried thinking of a fictional character that I would least want to run an intervention for a loved one of mine. Michael Scott cannot be beat. Here are eight others I came up with that could compare to him. If you think of any others e-mail (arewerecordingpodcast@gmail.com) them to me or send me them on Twitter

-The Tazmanian Devil
-Pierce Hawthorne
-The Joker
-Holden Caufield
-Walter White
-Darth Vader
-The Genie from Aladdin

Using a print out he got from a Mormon church website, and using hard-hitting deeply emotional questions like “Have you ever, under the influence of alcohol, questioned the teachings of the Mormon Church?”. Michael predictably botches the entire thing, as the rest of the office sits through it all, a little confused and a lot apathetic.

When Angela has officially taken on command too many from Phyllis and snaps on her, viscerally calling Phyllis’s parties “tacky”, Phyllis pushes all her chips into the middle of the table and spills the beans. Phyllis turns around and broadly proclaims “Angela’s been sleeping with Dwight”, only Andy wasn’t in the room. He then promptly bursts back into the room with a rendition of “Deck The Halls” on his sitar. The tension in the room could be cut by the dullest butter knife from the dingiest diner in Scranton. What a Chistmas!

Best Creed Moment: Everyone who has dabbled in a little bit of Tommy Chong’s cough medicine from time to to time, knows Creed was enjoying that hookah smoke a tad bit more than a person would normally enjoy hookah.

Season 6: Secret Santa

The latest Office Christmas episode starts off with the usual mix of gags and what-nots. From boss Jim and Dwight, who are now heading up the Party Planning Committee (shout-out to our second organic PPC update!), bumbling through the cold opening as Dwight shouts out “This was a successful unveiling!”. To Andy falling into the “doin too much” trap that has captured many a Dunder Mifflin employee through the years, and giving Erin the actual items in The 12 Days of Christmas. Which really turns out to be “about 30 birds”, all of whom have left Erin with facial cuts and bruises.

The party really gets going though when Michael becomes enraged when he learns that Jim gave Phyllis permission to be the office Santa this year. Michael immediately engages into a very Michael Scott-ish war of words with his holly jolly doppelganger, settling on “Tranny-Claus” as his new nickname for her.

Low-key fantastic moment: When Phyllis goes into Jim’s office to complain about Michael, and she threatens Jim with “don’t make me get Bob involved”. One of my favorite subtle running jokes, is Phyllis using Bob Vance as some sort of status symbol around the office building, like the high school girl who gets a little bit of a bird chest when she’s dating the captain of the football team.

When Michael has absolutely had enough, he turns his costume inside out and proclaims he’s Jesus Christ who has “the power of flight and he can heal leopards”. After his Jesus heckling gets unplugged, Michael calls David Wallace to complain about it, only to find out the company is broke and immediately goes into savior crisis mode.

An emotional rollercoaster with laughs aplenty, this episode came to the standard sweet resolution we’ve all come to love from Office Christmas specials. Michael and Santa Phyllis worked out their differences, aided by a third Santa, Bob Vance; Kelly gets the Robert Pattinson Twilight poster she’s wanted since she was a little girl; Andy gets his redemption with Erin when he brings in a full drumline to fulfill the 12 Days of Christmas conclusion with 12 drummers drumming. Yet another wonderful 22 minute escape into Scranton,PA for a little Christmas cheer.

Best Creed Moment: When prompted by Santa Phyllis, Creed opines “What if you’ve been bad? No I mean really really bad? More like evil?”

Season 7: Classy Christmas

This time around, the writers went in a little bit of a different direction. I wouldn’t necessarily call the Season 7 Christmas episode ‘funny’ in a big-picture sense. Sure there were plenty of funny moments along the way, and we’ll get to those. But overall, this episode was an exhibit in how someone can idolize things from the past so much, that when it becomes a reality it may not quite turn out to be the movie scene invented in their head.

When Holly was transferred away from Scranton, her relationship with Michael was over, at least on one end. Michael never quite got over her, and the picture of what they had together became so warped in his delusional mind, that he didn’t know how to react in reality (manifesting itself in Erin not being able to wrap her mind around this being the woman Michael is so in love with). Well, turns out, Michael reacted predictably insane about it, destroying the Woody doll that reminds Holly of her boyfriend AJ.

There is part of me that completely understands, and I truly do feel bad for him. Holly is back, but back with a boyfriend. Not only back with a boyfriend, but she is willing to do with AJ what she wasn’t willing to do with Michael. Moving back to Scranton, Holly engages in a long distance relationship, which is the exact reason she cut Michael out of her life.

Darryl’s storyline with his daughter ties nicely into the theme of “idolizing things from the past”. Like Michael, Darryl idolizes the past with memories of spending Christmas with his daughter watching iCarly (Quick opinion: iCarly is a super funny show) and going on shopping sprees, whereas his daughter remembers buying her own presents and watching TV. This whole storyline is actually super depressing, even with Pam and Andy doing their best to cheer up Darryl and help him give his daughter a Christmas to remember.

On the lighter side of life, the psychological warfare in the Dwight/Jim snowball storyline is a pleasant change of pace under the dark very non-Officey cloud hanging over this double episode. This is a Saw movie; Dwight is Jigsaw, and Jim is just playing his game.

PPC Update: And the Party Planning Committee is over. I’ll let Pam’s eloquent words take us out. “At it’s worst, it was a toxic political club used to make others feel miserable and left out. At it’s best, it planned parties”

Best Creed Moment: When Darryl’s daughter is going around handing out vending machine goodies, instead of waiting for her to give one to him with a sweet “Merry Christmas”, Creed just snatches a bag of chips out of her hands and shoves it into his coat. Merry Christmas Creed!

Season 8: Christmas Wishes

It’s our first Michael-less holiday celebration in Scranton, PA. For a lot of people, the show ended when Michael left. While I agree that under no circumstances are seasons 8 & 9 as great as the seasons that preceded them, there are plenty of great little nuggets of Office goodness to go around.

The episode starts off with new boss Andy, who is slowly and clumsily transforming into the center of the show, going around the office asking everyone what their Christmas wish is. Thrust into the forefront of the episode, is the never-ending Andy/Erin love story. I love both of these characters separately, but their on again, off again, will they, won’t they, we-aren’t-Jim-and-Pam story consistently brought out the worst in both of them. The introduction of a forced love triangle with Andy’s to-this-point faceless girlfriend Jessica begins here, when she joins the rest of the gang at the office party.

The Jim/Dwight can’t-prank-each-other and the awkward somehow-not-smooth-anymore Darryl trying to woo Val storyline’s aside, the main focus here is on Erin and Andy. One of my favorite ways this show deals with situations, is by having the characters devolve into high school like behavior. They do it all the time with Michael, there was the Pam/Karen frenemies relationship, and the sophomoric behavior rears it’s ugly head here. Erin, with a little bit of coaxing from Robert California, starts to heavily pound some liquid courage in attempts to drink away her insecurities being around Andy’s new girlfriend. While partying throughout high school and college, it’s safe to say we’ve all seen this behavior countless number of times. It always ends the same, embarrassment for at least one, if not both, the parties involved. This one is no different, as a mess of jealousy and unsaid feelings comes to a head when Erin and Andy both make questionable decisions: Erin telling Andy she literally wants his new girlfriend dead, to Andy snapping at Erin for it in front of everyone then following Robert California as he gives sloppy Erin a sober ride home.

The people who have stuck around this long are for one of two reasons: They are the type of people who need to see something to the end once they’ve started, then there were the types like me who just liked to watch Oscar, Meredith, Kevin and the rest of the gang just hang out and do things. Well that second group of people got a much needed moment of relief from the awkward relationship stickiness with the scene in the shitty Youtube video filmed off someone’s TV while their girlfriend makes dumb comments below.

Best Creed Moment: His very Creed-like air guitar skills above

Season 9: Dwight Christmas

As we’ve seen, through the years The Office used the Christmas episode as a benchmark of the season. Sort of the halfway point of the season with very macro storylines taking the spotlight in the frontal lobe of the episode brain. In the cold opener, the show takes a direct opposite turn, as the Dunder Mifflin-ites completely forget about the Christmas party for this year (I love that the camera turns to a lonely paper mache turkey Thanksgiving decoration sitting on a shelf top). After this revelation is un-earthed a few office member come up with some very pedestrian ideas, such as Nellie proposing them getting mini cupcakes, much to the chagrin of a disgusted Kevin. This leads to Dwight suggesting they have a “Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch” Christmas party, and Jim is all over it. Finding any little sliver of information on where he came from and what makes Dwight the way he is, is something that has never failed to pique Jim’s interest for the entirety of our relationship with the two of them.

PPC Update: The Party Planning Committee is back! When Angela calls an emergency meeting, herself, Pam, Phyllis and Oscar convene in the conference room. Pam leads the meeting enthusiastically trying to convince the rest of the group to go along with Dwight’s seemingly insane version of Christmas. “We’re the Party Planning Committee! We did not get where we are by playing it safe! We got here by being risk takers!” opines a motivated Pam to the rest of the room. May the PPC live on in infamy!

Much of the episode goes a lot like the video above. Not included in the video above is the part in between Jim leaving for Phila-whatever, and coming back to the office. Once Jim leaves, a sullen Dwight loses all of his Belsnickel gusto, realizing his mortal frenemy Jim has somewhat walked out on the rest of the Dunder Mifflin family. Ah but alas, Jim returns, and the party is back on.

Outside of the party Erin and Pete (Bet you forgot about Pete. So did I.) continue their flirtation while Andy is still off on his boat with his brother. This whole storyline is basically an homage to season 2, as you could sub out Erin for Pam, Pete for Jim, and Andy for Roy and get almost an exact replica of their season 2 relationship.

Also Darryl slowly but surely gets hammered, thinking Jim forgot about getting him a job in Philly. He finally gets enough courage and alcohol-spiked punch in him to angrily confront Jim about his leading him on and lying to him about finally getting out of Dunder Mifflin

Best Creed Moment: Stanley: I want tropical Christmas
Meredith: I want topless Christmas!
Creed: Tapas Swiss Miss!

I hope you all enjoyed this trip down Scranton gingerbread memory lane as much as I did! Merry Christmas to you and yours from Are We Recording and Dunder Mifflin Paper Company!


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