Andrew over at "Encore's World of Film and TV" recently invited me to put together a post on my favorite episode of the 2010-11 TV season for a "blog-a-thon". The episode I chose isn't really my favorite, but it's a great one that I suspect a lot of people have already forgotten. Enjoy!
Note: There are literally dozens of other episodes I could have gone with for this post, and truthfully "Mad Men's" "The Suitcase" (or any number of "Parks and Rec" and "Community" episodes from this past season) are probably better in a technical sense. I chose this episode... well, hopefully you'll see why.
My post (with spoilers) on "Classy Christmas" after the jump:
So, why "Classy Christmas"?
First off, it was the first truly "great" episode of "The Office" in over a season. A lot of people will point to season 6's Jim-Pam wedding, but for me it didn't quite nail every little aspect the way this episode (or numerous others from earlier in the show's run) did. In fact, you may have to look back to season 4's "Dinner Party" to find an episode that truly fired on all cylinders the way this one did: though season 5 did have its share of memorable outings.
Bringing back Amy Ryan for Michael's farewell tour was one of the very best ideas the show's writers ever had. It allowed Michael to get his happy ending (something I'm sure most fans wanted, including myself), but more importantly it allowed us to see how this show has changed over the years.
When Michael Scott was first introduced, he was basically a clueless idiot with a bit of a mean streak to him: very similar to David Brent on the original U.K. version. But over the years (and this is why I think the U.S. version is superior), the show has gradually shown us that Michael is, at heart, a pretty sympathetic person*. And, just as importantly, every season (even these past two very uneven ones) has continued to bring the office closer together as a family.
Which brings me to "Classy Christmas", and the one key scene I'd like to discuss. And that is of course the office turning on Holly after Michael confronts her about his feelings. What's remarkable about this scene is that despite Michael's rather delusional and immature behavior (which he does make up for in the end), his employees have come to hold him in such high esteem that they'll defend him basically no matter what. At the same time, Michael's become a character so lovable that we're with them all the way even if we don't necessarily condone his actions**.
And that's without even mentioning the great B-plot involving Dwight and Jim's snowball fight, which is without question one of the more satisfying role-reversals (Jim's usually the one going after Dwight) in the show's history. Everything just comes together perfectly, including a number of smaller storylines: some funny, some poignant.
It's a top five episode of the show for me (along with "Dinner Party", "The Job", "Beach Games", and "A Benihana Christmas", in some order), and started off Michael's uneven but ultimately successful exit from the series extremely successfully. It's not necessarily the best episode of this past TV season, but it's a perfect example of "The Office's" greatness: even if its glory days are long since past.
* One could argue that the U.K. version did the same with Brent to a degree, but pity was the emotion I most often felt for him: not sympathy.
** Or his reasoning. He compares Holly and him from season 5 to Holly and A.J. now, but they're completely different situations. Holly's been with A.J. a lot longer than she was with Michael. Just thought I should point that out. It doesn't change anything, though. The emotions he's feeling are still real.