Q and A
Since I was moderating the event, I couldn’t take notes on it, so I humbly present the assorted recollections of the evening from Tallyheads liezl, Brooke, and Ryan:
What’s it like to watch a clip of The Office with an auditorium full of people?
Mike Schur was nervous watching with an audience. He remembered screening The Negotiation at the first Paley Fest they attended and being extra uncomfortable since he wrote it. He mentioned that even when he worked at SNL, he was too nervous to watch.
How has the writing specifically contributed to The Office’s success?
Greg talked about writing “behaviorial moments.” I agreed and mentioned that is why fans often watch episodes over and over again, to catch those small moments they might not have seen the first time around.
How do the writers determine who writes what episode? | J in Texas
Greg mentioned that it’s usually whichever writer had the original idea. A writer has to be excited about their episode. They try to think about universal office themes.
They said they couldn’t figure out how to do ‘Weight Loss’ for the longest time, but then Greg came up with the “8 weeks in one episode” idea and they made it work and were able to break down the show into smaller pieces. Of course in editing the pieces together, they screwed up on the continuity and the goatee-less Michael popped up. Oops.
There was a callback later in the evening that we would know the writers had nothing left if we ever saw these episode titles — “Blood Drive” and “Earth Day.”
“If you see an Earth Day episode, you’ll know we ran out of ideas.”
Do you feel the pressure to keep Jim and Pam an item because the fans love them so much together? | Veronique in Quebec
Greg didn’t want to say anything because he felt like the Federal Reserve Chairman when he talks about them. He doesn’t want anyone investing too much into what he says because it may not be as good or as bad as it sounds. He wants to keep them realistic but then another writer piped in that conflict is good for a TV show. They want to write Jim and Pam as what real people would do, not what the fans want.
They also talked about the Valentine’s Day show, and how people were upset when Jim didn’t give anything to Pam. Apparently, sides leaked out which had him giving her a present and when the episode aired and it didn’t happen, people were pissed. Meanwhile, the A story had Michael in NY and a cameo by Conan O’Brian and nobody seemed to care.
Mindy remembered the reaction to ‘The Injury.’ She thought it got a terrible reaction because it aired immediately after Booze Cruise and there was no JAM follow-up. People didn’t care about Michael’s grilled foot. Of course, now it’s a classic episode and beloved by all, so she feels redeemed, but at the time it sucked.
The writers definitely expressed a little frustration over fan focus on the Jim/Pam story “when Steve Carell is the star of the show.”