Monday, December 21, 2009

The Office: Secret Santa, Producer's Cut: The One Where Jesus Heckles Santa

The Office Christmas episode entitled "Secret Santa" aired a few weeks ago. It was a decent installment from the people who create the Dunder Mifflin crew. It was also strange that no deleted scenes were up on the NBC site.

It turns out there was a producer's cut in the works, now available at and for viewing. It's a healthy 29 minute version with unseen scenes that allow the episode to breathe and allow for some hilarious, if not classic moments to bubble. There is more Jim in charge. Some Jim and Pam smooching under the mistletoe. Madge the lady warehouse employee is back with a hankering for lasagna, and Michael's rant about not being the official Santa (thus turning into Santa to damn everyone) was pretty funny rather than annoying, thanks to the incredible talent of Steve Carell, who is allowed more time to be the funny man we all know and love.

Producer's cuts seem to show how damaging commercial breaks can be for The Office. Perhaps it's due to the mockumentary standard, where there are silences and a real life flow to the pace that get diffused by a "word from your sponsor". In most programs and film, scenes need to be deleted because they are superfluous or do not add anything to a story. However, in the case of The Office, most omitted scenes shown post air on the network web site prove they are almost essential in allowing the story lines and characterizations to flourish. That is why producer's editions are so satisfying. Scenes scissored out of the original airing, are seamlessly edited in, and voila! The episode oozes with back story, emotion, physical comedy (see Carell shaking off a sleepy leg) and more honesty.

I don't want to bellyache over advertisers simply doing business. After all, they pay the bills. Yet, it's not hard to see how the quality of a show can sometimes suffer due to the network's edict to shoe horn about 10 minutes of advertisements in a half hour time slot. Sadly, until someone finds a better way to deal with ad revenue on network television, we will continue to see shows spliced and diced within an inch of their creative lives in order to make more room to sell more stuff.

The Office "Secret Santa" Producer's Cut:

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