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Michael's Birthday

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"Michael's Birthday"
The Office episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 19
Directed by Ken Whittingham
Written by Gene Stupnitsky
Lee Eisenberg
Production code 2019[1]
Original air date March 30, 2006
Running time 22 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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The Office (U.S. season 2)
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"Michael's Birthday" is the nineteenth episode of the second season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's twenty-fifth episode overall. Written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, and directed by Ken Whittingham, the episode first aired in the United States on March 30, 2006 on NBC. The episode guest stars Nancy Walls as Carol Stills.

The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In the episode, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is disappointed when only Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) celebrates his birthday. Meanwhile, Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) spends the day waiting to find out if he has skin cancer.

The ice skating scenes were shot in an actual rink; Carell's talent at hockey was the reason the writers decided to set the episode there. Fischer had also learned to skate in preparation for the movie Blades of Glory, but the writers decided that there was no reason for Pam to be a good skater, so they had Pam lean on Jim. "Michael's Birthday" was watched by 7.8 million viewers and received mostly positive reviews from critics.

Plot

Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is excited to be celebrating his birthday, and tries to get the employees excited with him. Unfortunately for Michael, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) seems to be the only one joining in; the rest of the employees are more concerned about Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), who is awaiting his results from his skin cancer screening. Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) sneak out to buy gifts for Kevin to cheer him up.

When Michael finds out about Kevin's predicament, he gives Kevin his condolences, but subtly remains bitter that Kevin is ruining his birthday fun. Dwight and Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) are less subtle than they think they are being when discussing their secret relationship within earshot of Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak). After goofing around at the store, Jim and Pam return to the office.

In an attempt to make Kevin feel better and celebrate his birthday, Michael takes the employees out ice skating. At the rink, he also runs into his real estate agent Carol Stills (Nancy Walls) and her children. He entertains them, which makes Carol smile. Kevin gets the word that his screening results are negative, to the relief of everyone except Michael, who believes that negative means he does have cancer, and who reacts for the first time with genuine concern and compassion for Kevin. The gifts are passed out to Kevin and Michael, and the episode ends with Pam recalling that she had fun with Jim and it was a "good day".

Production

This episode was the second episode of the series directed by Ken Whittingham.[2] Whittingham had previously directed the first season episode "Health Care".[3] "Michael's Birthday" was written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg.[2] The two had previously written the episodes "The Fight" and "The Secret".[4]

The ice skating scenes were shot in an actual rink. According to Jenna Fischer, Steve Carell used to play hockey, and the writers had been looking for a reason to use Carell's ice skating skills in an episode. Fischer had also learned to skate in preparation for the movie Blades of Glory, but the writers decided that there was no reason for Pam to be a good skater, so they had Pam lean on Jim.[4] Saturday Night Live alumna Nancy Walls, who played Carol Stills, is actually Steve Carell's wife.[5] At the rink, Michael tells Pam to be wary of breast cancer. This is the third joke that Stupnitsky and Eisenberg had aimed at Pam's breasts, after one each in "The Fight" and "The Secret". Fischer later jokingly said that "my breasts play a central role in one of tonight's scenes."[4] Fischer also noted that, due to the slight emphasis her breasts were receiving, many fans on the internet were arguing that Fischer had had breast implants. Fischer denied the rumors, but stated that she was "flattered".[4]

The Season Two DVD contains a number of deleted scenes from this episode. Notable cut scenes include Jim describing Michael's typical birthday, Dwight explaining his duties on Michael's birthday, Michael being upset when Ryan does not get him a present, Michael telling several variations of his worst birthday, and Michael making Ryan research skin cancer.[6]

Cultural references

The cold opening features Michael trying to get various members of the office involved in a pyramid scheme, which is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. The scheme is generally considered one of various internet scams.[7] Michael later reveals having also fallen for a Nigerian 419 scam.

Michael notes that he shares his birthday with Eva Longoria, and that it will be a perfect icebreaker if he ever meets Teri Hatcher. After Michael asks what Dwight is playing on the recorder, Dwight replies that it is "for the longest time", by "William Joel" (Billy Joel released "The Longest Time" in 1984). When Kevin mentions he might have skin cancer, Kelly starts discussing a case involving cancer on the popular medical drama Grey's Anatomy. She later says that the saddest funeral she ever saw was the one for Princess Diana. For Michael's birthday, his mother sent him a picture of James Dean Resignedly, Michael notes that "I bet Luke Perry's friends don't treat him like this".[7] While at the grocery store, Jim and Pam buy a copy of the American comedy movie American Pie 2. Pam later impersonates Darth Vader, a character from the science fiction movie franchise Star Wars on the store's intercom. To show his support for Kevin, Michael makes a fake Livestrong wristband out of construction paper. Dwight later gives Michael a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jersey with the words "From Dwight" on the back.[7]

Reception

"Michael's Birthday" originally aired on NBC in the United States on March 30, 2006.[8] "Michael's Birthday" received 4.0/10 in the ages 18–49 demographic in the Nielsen ratings. This means that 4.0 percent of all households with an 18- to 49-year-old living in it watched the episode, and ten percent had their television tuned to the channel at any point. "Michael's Birthday" was watched by 7.8 million viewers.[9]

"Michael's Birthday" received very positive reviews. Michael Sciannamea of TV Squad wrote that the episode was "simply the best one yet", and that it "was so brilliant and so right on that I can't give it any higher praise".[10] Sciannamea went on to write that "the scenes at the ice rink were hysterical" and The Office "is the best sitcom on TV".[10] M. Giant of Television Without Pity graded the episode with an "A".[7] Lindsey Thomas of Rolling Stone magazine named the scene wherein Michael confuses the term "negative" to mean that Kevin has skin cancer as the seventeenth greatest moment in the series.[11] Brendan Babish of DVD Verdict was moderately pleased with the entry and awarded it a "B+".[12] He called the entry a "good episode", but noted that it was helped by "great supporting work from Dwight", who he called "as not only the best supporting character on the show, but perhaps the best in television."[12]

References

  1. ^ "Shows A–Z – Office, The on NBC". The Futon Critic. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Ken Whittingham (director); Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (writers) (April 12, 2005). "Michael's Birthday". The Office. Season 2. Episode 19. NBC. 
  3. ^ Ken Whittingham (director); Paul Lieberstein (writer) (April 12, 2005). "Health Care". The Office. Season 1. Episode 3. NBC. 
  4. ^ a b c d Fischer, Jenna (March 30, 2006). "The Office Celebrates Good Times". TV Guide. Retrieved August 4, 2008. 
  5. ^ Interview: Steve Carell (January 11, 2006). The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC.
  6. ^ Deleted scenes for "Michael's Birthday" (DVD). The Office: Season Two Disc 4: Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 2006. 
  7. ^ a b c d Giant, M. (March 30, 2006). "Michael's Birthday". Television Without Pity. NBCUniversal. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2008. 
  8. ^ "The Office – Seasons – Season 2 – Episode Guide". NBC. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ "April 6, 2006 Press Release ('Michael's Birthday')". National Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2008. 
  10. ^ a b Sciannamea, Michael (March 30, 2006). "The Office: "Michael's Birthday"". TV Squad. Retrieved August 4, 2008. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Lindsey (October 17, 2007). "25 Greatest Moments From 'The Office'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Babish, Brendan. "The Office: Season Two". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2007. 

External links

  • "Michael's Birthday" at NBC.com
  • "Michael's Birthday" on IMDb
  • "Michael's Birthday" at TV.com
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