This week Jill and I finally made it through The Office Season 2, both watching all the episodes and me doing all of the commentaries and other extras. I had actually seen 6 of the episodes as they aired last year but none of the ones at the end of the season, including the big cliffhanger. Watching that many episodes in a short period of time (including the 6 from Season 1) can really show of the beauty of a show. That's very much the case with "The Office."
The writers and directors use the structure of the show very well. "The Office" is shot as a documentary and we see the characters acknowledging or trying to avoid the cameras in certain situations. We also are given "talking head" interviews directly to the camera about things that are happening within the confines of the episodes, which can make the show even funnier or give it extra emotional depth. The camera will swing within scenes to give reaction shots to what is happening - the go-tos for these are Jim (played by John Krasinski) and Pam (played by Jenna Fischer).
Jim and Pam are the relationship at the heart of the show. Jim spends much of his time pining over Pam, who is engaged to Roy, who works in the warehouse. As the second season progresses, Pam spends much of her time at work planning her wedding, which leaves Jim in a position of pain (plus, the two of them generally spend lots of time together at work, mostly playing pranks on others in the office)...so much so that he explores transferring within the company.
Jim is also at the center of another important relationship - he and Dwight (played by Rainn Wilson). Dwight is a loyal sycophant to the branch manager, Michael (played by Steve Carell). He is a weird, humorless person who also happens to be a brillaint salesman. The pranks Jim (often abetted by Pam) pull on Dwight form the baseline of humor for the show. They are brilliant (like when Jim encased Dwight's stuff in Jello) and varied.
Then there's Michael. He is vain and feels like he is everyone's best friend and the funniest guy in the office. He has little knowledge on how to truly interact with people and his brain is mostly filled with out-of-date pop culture references. He's an ass and a buffoon. But Carell also injects his performance with humanity and the show has allowed Michael to have depth, to sometimes be what he always thinks he is.
Of course, there are tons of other characters in a variety of smaller roles and the actors who fill these are wonderful as well. For example, Dwight has a secret office romance with the uptight and judgemental Angela, which only Pam and the camera crew know about. Smart.
I've know seen every episode of "The Office" and have no problem declaring it to be the best sitcom on TV right now.