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But no one could have quite predicted how great the season’s 13th episode was.

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Taking the action away from the Dunder Mifflin office, “The Dinner Party” provides a rare glimpse into the home life of regional manager Michael Scott (Carell) as he hosts an impromptu get-together for three couples: salesman Jim Halpert and receptionist Pam Beesly, salesman Andy Bernard and accountant Angela Martin, and party-crasher Dwight Schrute and his former babysitter/current lover, Melvina.

The previous season had seen Jim and Pam finally get together after years of flirtation; Michael had also found love – with Jan Levinson, his former boss.

Greg Daniels (executive producer/co-creator): I had an expression that I used in the writers room to describe a scene where the situation was charged, where several characters had different opinions and there was an excuse for them to all sit around and fire off great lines one at a time.

I called it a “killing field,” like it was just nonstop joke-joke-joke.

“It’s a tight, contained space where so many relationship issues are bubbling around between Jim and Pam, Andy and Angela, Michael and Jan.

It’s that pressure-cooker aspect that heightens everything, plus the decorum of the dinner party, the sort of need to rise to a different sort of social construct, as opposed to just being co-workers in an office space.

It’s just a boiling-hot crucible of comedy.” To celebrate its 10th anniversary, we tracked much of the cast and crew for an oral history of the landmark episode. Writing ‘The Dinner Party’ Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg joined the “Office” writing staff in Season Two, penning memorable episodes such as “The Secret” and “Women’s Appreciation.” Gene Stupnitsky (co-writer): We kind of talked about “The Dinner Party” as Who’s Afraid of Jan Levinson-Gould? And just the world’s worst dinner party, the most awkward dinner party – with your boss.

We had set it up earlier, where Michael kept asking Jim and Pam for plans, and they kept having excuses.

Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson): When I first started to play Jan, she was incredibly straight and serious and kind of humorless. I just think that’s hilarious, and obviously the beginning of her losing her shit.

I found that aspect of her really funny because nothing could, in any way, sway her to feel like anything had any humor to it at all. To Jan, Michael was this guy who was kind of an idiot, but also represented this possibility for her white picket fence, which is why the dinner party is so resonant. It’s her moment of “here we are living together, and I’m gonna have a candle business, and we have a Warhol on the wall of me, and [Michael] adores me, and we’re gonna have this perfect life.” It’s her having a delusional fantasy of normalcy. Pre-Production A table read is a chance for actors to get familiar with the script and for the writers to see if the jokes work.

They talked about going to his high school prom in the limo, and then you realize that Michael was the limo driver at his own high school prom. John Krasinski (Jim Halpert): Melora was so good on our show.

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