"A Benihana Christmas" is the tenth/eleventh episode of the third season of The Office and is the 38th/39th overall. It was written by Jennifer Celotta and directed by Harold Ramis, noted film comedy writer and director. The episode first aired on December 14, 2006. It was viewed by 8.4 million people. It is a special hour-length episode.
The Day of the Annual Christmas Party at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Dwight enters the office with a goose that he accidentally struck with his car—which he proclaims to be a Christmas miracle—and plans to prepare it for the party. After initial objections to having a dead animal present, Toby allows Dwight to keep it as long as he cleans it in his car.
When Michael arrives, Pam gives him a gift bag. He mistakenly thinks it's from Pam but she explains it's from corporate headquarters.
Carol receives her Christmas card from Michael and visits him to voice her disapproval of his Photoshopping himself into a two-year-old ski weekend photo with her children and former husband (Michael replaces her husband's face with his own). This, along with his marriage proposal (in the episode "Diwali"), pushes her over the edge, and she breaks off the relationship, leaving Michael (who has already booked a trip for the two of them to Sandals Resorts) heartbroken.
Pam gives Jim her gift: she has been sending Dwight messages from the CIA for several months (including a request of Dwight to admit all the secrets he's sworn never to tell anyone) and she's going to let Jim decide the top secret mission that Dwight will go on. At first, Jim is clearly happy, but then turns down the gift, saying that he doesn't want to keep doing the same things he did before now that he is "Number #2" man in the branch and he has a chance to start over. Pam is obviously embarrassed and saddened that Jim turned down her gift to him.
Dwight realizes that the office is one bathrobe-from-corporate short, and a depressed Michael "solves" the problem by telling Dwight to take Toby's.
Angela and the rest of the office's party planning committee meet to discuss specifics about the day's festivities. Karen attempts to offer several party suggestions, and although they get support from other members, Angela immediately nixes all of her ideas. Karen is then asked to leave by Angela for having stupid ideas and does so after receiving no support from the other committee members.
Stating to the camera that she does not know why she has been so cold with Karen, Pam apologizes for the events that transpired during the party planning meeting and the two decide to organize their own Margarita-Karaoke party. When they present this idea to Angela, she declares them to be invalid and asks Dwight get involved since he "outranks" Karen and Pam. Jim, being "Number #2", creates The Committee To Determine The Validity Of The Two Committees on the spot (consisting only of himself) and declares Pam and Karen's committee to be valid. While this goes on, Andy decides to take Michael out to help him forget about his troubles; Michael summons his "entourage" Jim, Ryan and Dwight to come along, though Ryan opts out with a long list of excuses he's prepared for such an invitation from Michael.
Pam and Karen begin their party in the breakroom and Angela (after calling Dwight for permission) is quick to start her own in the conference room. After a few tense moments, Stanley stands up and goes to Pam and Karen's party; several other people follow him except for Kevin, Phyllis, and Hannah. Kevin tells the camera that he is mainly convinced to go because he has heard that Angela's party will have double-fudge brownies, and that outweighs the fact that Angela herself will be there. Michael, Andy, Jim, and Dwight arrive at a Benihana restaurant (which Michael refers to as "Asian Hooters"). Andy slides into a seat next to Michael and arranges the seating so Dwight is seated on the opposite end of the table and out of earshot of the conversation of the rest of the entourage. Andy convinces Michael to ask out his Japanese waitress after getting him slightly drunk. So drunk, in fact, that he actually steals meat from the plate of Justin Spitzer, which causes a quick chopstick-sword fight between them. Unable to hear these conversations, Dwight asks Jim to fill him in, but instead Jim tricks him into telling the waitress how to properly butcher a goose, which disgusts both the waitress and the others at the table - while initially attempting to explain himself, Jim finally smiles and admits that it was just the same as all the other pranks he'd pulled on Dwight. Meanwhile, the office is divided into two separate camps as Phyllis, Hannah and Kevin attend Angela's party while the rest of the staff are at Pam and Karen's. Ryan makes the discovery at the party that they do not have a power cord for their karaoke machine, but Darryl offers to get his synthesizer as an alternative. As he passes Phyllis to get the music out of his car, she asks him how they are doing over there and Darryl replies that they are having fun, encouraging Phyllis to join their party in the break room "when your meeting is over". Through Karen and Pam's party, Meredith has a bottle of vodka in her hand, turning down the margaritas because they are "too sweet".
Meanwhile, Angela's party proceeds to get more uncomfortable as Angela makes a dig at Kevin's weight, irritating him enough to drive him to the other party. When Michael, Andy, Jim, and Dwight return with two of the waitresses from Benihana, Michael finds Angela's party to be "lame." Kevin uses this moment to escape. Angela is comforted by Dwight's attendance at her party (even though he went to the other party first) until Karen and Pam come in and inform Dwight that he's won the raffle from their party. Dwight wins walkie-talkies, which he uses later in the episode to communicate with Angela, using their pet names for one another, "monkey" and "possum".
Pam notices how upset Angela is, and she and Karen make an offer to Angela to merge the two parties. Angela agrees and reveals that she stole the power cord for the karaoke machine. As everyone has fun singing, Michael—who is very drunk—confuses his date with Andy's since, as he states, "all waitresses look alike." He goes into the kitchen where both the waitresses are and he discreetly tries to ask aloud where his one was and finally she acknowledges herself and he discreetly marks her arm with a marker.
The two waitresses leave because they say the party "blows", and Michael offers his girl a trip to Sandals Jamaica, where he was going to take Carol. She says no since she has classes, although she does take a bike that Michael had intended to give to the charity toy drive.
A depressed Michael sulks on the couch and Jim comes up and joins him. Jim gets Michael to laugh at the whole situation and lets him realize that what he had with the waitress was nothing more than a rebound. Jim then tells Michael that a rebound is a fun distraction, but when it is over, "you're still thinking about the girl you're really after—the one who broke your heart" (echoing Jim's relationship with Karen after his being rejected by Pam). The two sit in silence as they think.
As the Christmas party ends, Angela sings karaoke, Pam gives Toby her robe from corporate that Dwight had taken, and Jim and Karen give each other the same Christmas gift (a DVD copy of Bridget Jones's: Edge of Reason), seeing which makes Pam sad. Later Pam receives a gift from Roy, which Jim sees. Michael makes a phone call to an unknown person (Who is later revealed to be Jan) to ask her to accompany him to Sandals; to Michael's surprise, the person says yes. Oscar and Gil return from their three-month vacation in Europe. Looking around, Oscar says "Too soon" and leaves.
While Jim is leaving, he decides to go ahead and take Pam up on her "gift" offer from earlier. He tells Pam that Dwight will be summoned by the CIA to meet with them. Pam quickly looks up how much a bus ticket will cost, and when she mentions it will cost $75, Jim tells her that the CIA will be sending a helicopter instead. The next scene shows Dwight on the roof waiting for a helicopter. He then receives a text message reading, "You have been compromised. Abort mission. Destroy phone." Dwight throws his phone off the roof and walks away.
- In a talking head interview, Michael incorrectly quotes "William Randolph Shakespeare".
- In a talking head interview, Angela angrily strings popcorn and expresses her outrage on behalf of baby Jesus. Baby Jesus wouldn't cancel Christmas because he got dumped or because he's two weeks behind on party planning. "Baby Jesus would suck it up."
- In a talking head interview, Karen expresses her surprise that Scranton requires an entire committee to plan parties.
- Angela complains to Toby that "that trollop" is throwing her own party and demands that he put a stop to it. When Toby refuses, Angela slaps him. Toby decides to write up Angela for the infraction, and she sneers back, "Michael was so right about you. You are pathetic."
- In separate talking head interviews, Creed, Kevin, and Stanley discuss which party they will choose.
- Angela scolds Phyllis for using the wrong term for her party treats.
- Angela intimidates Phyllis into coming to her party.
- At Benihana, Michael calls Carol. He asks her what he did wrong. We cannot hear Carol's response, but it is long and detailed. "All right, well could you tell me something that I did right?" Carol hangs up.
- Ryan gives Kelly a Christmas gift. She coldly asks, "Do you always get presents for your ex-girlfriend?" Kelly explains that she won't tolerate Ryan's inconsiderate behavior any more, and Ryan accepts her decision. Kelly panics and apologizes tearfully. "You're not mean; you're adorable!" She bought Ryan a present but threw it out when she didn't think he was getting a present for her.
- Kelly is in the dumpster outside looking for the gift she bought Ryan. Ryan, frustrated, shouts, "Kelly, I am so cold!" Kelly breaks down crying. Ryan tries to break up with her, but Kelly shouts back, "Don't dump me while I'm in the dumpster!"
- Ryan has joined Kelly in the dumpster, and Kelly begins wondering about the food scraps she finds. Kelly gasps. "I'm scared! Hold me."
- Angela prevents Phyllis from leaving her party.
- Michael introduces his date to Stanley.
- Michael excitedly ties his bathrobe after trying it on, but after Carol breaks up with him he wears his bathrobe undone.
- Michael accept's Ryan's contradictory excuses: Ryan claims MSG and peanut allergies, but also says "I just ate there last night." Michael assumes that Ryan ate at Benihana despite the allergies and says, "Okay, feel better."
- Andy orders a "Nog a sake" and explains that some places won't make that drink because egg nog is seasonal. It is more likely that other Benihana restaurants won't make it due to the offensive reference to the bombing of the Japanese city Nagasaki in World War II.
- Despite Andy's dislike of Dwight, he cannot help but sing along when Dwight sings.
Goofs and errors
- In the opening scene, Creed says that it would be crazy to eat the dead goose that Dwight brought. After the credits, Creed comes in to work, apparently for the first time. The two scenes take place on the same day because everybody is wearing the same clothes.
- Michael's "new girlfriend" has make up on when she walks into the office, but in the very next shot she is suddenly shown with no make up. When the crew reviewed the footage from their first day of shooting, they realized that the make-up made the waitresses look too sophisticated, and they toned down the make-up for the remainder of the episode.:01:38:15
Connections to other episodes
- Dwight cheerfully brings a dead goose to the office, but in "Grief Counseling", he is concerned about catching a disease from the dead bird that Michael found.
- This is the second time that a group has chanted Darryl's name. (The first time was in "Booze Cruise".)
- Spoiler: In a talking head interview, Angela says that she and her sister refuse to speak to each other, yet her sister Rachel attends her wedding in "Finale". According to the Show Bible, Angela has several sisters.:01:29:14
- In a deleted scene, Kelly asks why there are so many egg yolks in the dumpster. Ryan says that Michael was on some sort of an egg yolk diet, first mentioned in a deleted scene in "The Client".
- Spoiler: Angela's love for the Christmas song "Little Drummer Boy" is shown again when she asks Andy if it can be played at their wedding.
- The goose in the cold open was a fake dead goose.:33:51
- Carol's children (and ex-husband) were played by actors. They are not Steve and Nancy Carell's real children.:39:32
- In the episode "The Alliance", Angela said that the color green was whorish. In this episode, she says that green is acceptable, but orange is whorish. In both cases, Angela's choice of whorish color matches Phyllis' outfit.
- Michael not only misjudged his relationship with Carol, but he also was unreasonable to expect a working single mom with two kids to be able to go on a Christmas vacation on the spur of the moment.
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin, also starring Steve Carell, has a scene set in a Benihana restaurant. Carell's characters in both The Office and Virgin are sitting in the same seat at the restaurant tables.
- In what some viewers believed to be an inside joke among the writers, the two Asian waitresses at Benihana are not the same two waitresses Michael and Andy bring back to the office. This "gag" was thought to play upon the racial stereotype that Asian people all look the same.
- The intended joke was that Andy and Michael failed to pick up the original waitresses, and all they could get were "less attractive ones".:01:36:52
- This is supported by the visuals; The waitress Cindy talks to clearly has blonde highlights, but neither of the waitresses who accompany Michael and Andy back to the Office have blonde highlights. They are also college-age, significantly younger than Cindy.
- At Paley Fest 2007, Greg Daniels admitted that the joke failed due to poor casting. The waitresses that come to the office were too attractive.
- Closed Captioning on the episode contradicts the prettier/uglier waitresses story about switching actresses. As Michael's party date wheels the bicycle out of the party, the CC displays "[Cindy] Merry Christmas." Cindy was the name of the original "pretty" waitress.
- According to the Diploma on Toby's wall, he attended California Coastal College.
- Staff writer Mindy Kaling gave fellow writer Michael Schur a poster for the movie Bridget Jones's Diary 2 which hung in his office for an entire year and which may have served as inspiration for Jim and Karen's DVD exchange.
- The presence of egg yolks in the dumpster is explained by Ryan as the result of Michael's egg yolk diet (first introduced in a deleted scene from "The Client"). However, in that diet, Michael eats the yolks and discards the whites.
- The Photoshopped Christmas card prop was sold by NBC at auction as a charity fundraiser.
- In the talking head interview with Kevin in which he debates whether he wants to tolerate Angela so he can get double-fudge brownies, both Stanley and Karen are at their desks through the window behind him. This is odd, as both Stanley and Karen went to Pam and Karen's party before the talking head interview with Kevin happened.
- The song Creed sings during karaoke was a song he wrote after leaving his old band, The Grass Roots.
- In 2015, the Web site cracked.com tried the fictitious Nog-a-sake drink. It was disgusting.
- The 11th Michael Scott absent in cold open.
Behind the scenes
- First-time Office director Harold Ramis spent an extra week preparing for the episode. During rehearsal of the first scene, cinematographer Randall Einhorn and camera operator Matt Sohn worked out how they would cover the scene. Ramis held out his voluminous notes and said, "I should just get rid of this, right?." After rehearsing the second scene, he pointedly tossed his notes into Pam's trash can.:09:10
- The path from the elevator to the Dunder Mifflin lobby is a short, twisty route. It took several dozen takes for Steve Carell to ride the bicycle successfully into the Dunder Mifflin office. The cursing when he hits the plant is an unscripted reaction.:36:32
- Writer Jennifer Celotta says, "I enjoy writing taking things from Toby."
- The Benihana scenes were filmed at the Benihana in Encino, California. The show rented the restaurant for the entire day, hired the chefs and waitresses as actors, and hired an addition 78 actors to play customers.:06:12 In real life, there is no Benihana anywhere near Scranton.
- Writer Jen Celotta chose Benihana as the restaurant because she had fond memories of eating there as a child, to celebrate a good grade or recovering from an illness.:01:13:18
- During filming, John Krasinski threw a shrimp across the table at Rainn Wilson. It bounced off Dwight's glasses and landed in the glass of water he was about to drink. Director Harold Ramis chose not to use the footage because it looked so improbable as to be unbelievable.
- The Benihana chef was a real chef from the restaurant. During filming, the chef could not make the signature onion volcano featured in the scene. The restaurant brought in another chef, who also failed. After over an hour, the show gave up. The smoke coming from the volcano was added in post-production.:01:13:58
- Writer Jen Celotta was surprised to learn that obtaining permission to use the song "Two Tickets to Paradise" ended up costing $60,000. "It's a fine joke, but none of my jokes I've ever written have been a $60,000 joke.":01:21:20
- John Mayer originally declined to give the show permission to use his song Your Body Is a Wonderland because he suspected it was going to be made fun of. However, after discussing the matter with B.J. Novak, Mayer reconsidered and granted permission on the condition that he receive a Dundie. His Dundie is for "Tallest Music Dude".
- Pam's line about three pieces of tape is so iconic that when Jenna Fischer gives a gift and uses more than three pieces of tape, people comment on it.:58:15
- The story behind Jim and Karen's mutual gifts of Bridget Jones Diary 2 was that the two of them had seen it together, and they gave it to each other as a joke gift. The intent was to use this as shorthand to show that the two characters were on the same wavelength, but not yet serious.:01:17:48
- Writer Jen Celotta chose the song "We Belong" for Kelly to sing to Ryan, but it was Mindy Kaling who changed the lyrics to "We belong together, Ryan.":01:19:47
- In the first draft of the episode, Kevin sang "Mo Money, Mo Problems" by Notorious B.I.G., but it was changed to "You Oughta Know" during rewrites.:01:19:47
- Angela Kinsey is terrified of public singing. Initially, she had a death grip on the microphone and dug her fingernails into her hand. Rainn Wilson took it upon himself to help her get through the scene. The smile from Angela is a genuine one from Angela Kinsey, recognizing support from her friend.:01:50:50
- Roy's gift for Pam was an art book.:01:55:43
- Christmas is a Christian holiday which has become largely secularized. Wrapped gifts are typically exchanged.
- And circle gets the square is a catch phrase from the game show Hollywood Squares. It is said when the player playing "circle" answers a question correctly.
- Telling someone to take a chill pill is a somewhat insulting way of telling them to relax because they are overreacting.
- Michael makes a series of puns on Pam's name based on traditional Christmas foods: Christmas Pam (ham), candied Pams (yams), and Pam (lamb) chops.
- In a toy drive, people donate toys for underprivileged children.
- Andy greets Michael with a (ridiculous) exploding version of the "fist bump".
- Michael sings "Two Tickets to Paradise", by Eddie Money, with altered lyrics.
- Sandals is a chain of Caribbean resorts which caters to couples.
- Michael says to Carol, You're such a blonde. People with blonde hair (particularly women) are portrayed in jokes as stupid.
- The message on the card Ski-sons Greetings is a pun on the traditional message "Seasons Greetings".
- Photoshop is a computer program used for manipulating digital images. Its use is so prevalent it has become a verb. To "Photoshop" an image is to alter it with the help of Photoshop.
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a United States government agency dedicated to foreign spying.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (or Rudolph for short) is an animated Christmas television program that has aired annually since 1972.
- Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that typically falls near mid-December.
- Dwight acknowledges Michael's instructions by saying Copy, radio jargon meaning that the message was received.
- The Nutcracker is a Christmas ballet by Tchaikovsky.
- Michael repeatedly plays a sample from the song Goodbye My Lover, a 2004 song about a break-up.
- Andy asks, "What's the haps?", extremely casual slang for "What's happening?"
- Benihana is chain of Japanese restaurants. Hooters is a chain of American restaurants featuring buxom waitresses. In reality, there is no Hooters within convenient lunchtime driving distance of Scranton - despite Michael and Jim eating there in "The Secret" and their catering the festivities of "Casino Night".
- MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer associated with Asian food.
- Bros before hos is rude slang which means "Men should prioritize their male friends ahead of their girlfriends." The term "ho" is rude slang for "hooker" (prostitute), applied more generally to women.
- Got latte? is a pun on "Got milk?" the motto of the milk marketing board campaign to get people to drink more milk. The ads feature people with a film of milk on their upper lip (a "milk mustache").
- S.O.S. and Mayday are radio distress calls. Man down is a military term indicate that a soldier is injured, lying on the ground. Andy uses it figuratively to indicate that Michael is in distress.
- The Nog-a-sake is an invented drink, a pun on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
- Phyllis suggests putting out "salt for the rims." Salted rims are a traditional element of the margarita drink.
- Nakiri and usuba are Japanese knives. The nakiri is intended for home use; the usuba is more difficult to use and is intended for professionals. (Dwight is wrong to suggest that the chef should use a nakiri.)
- In family style dining, all dishes are shared. This contrasts with "service à la russe" (common in most American restaurants) wherein each diner orders their own dish and is not obliged to share it.
- Hello Kitty is a Japanese cartoon character whose image has been used on almost every imaginable product.
- Michael says, You know how all waitresses look alike, catching himself from saying that all Asian people look alike, a stereotypical remark.
- Stevie Wonder is a singer who is blind.
- Dwight asks Angela, Do you copy?, radio jargon for "Did you receive my message?" (Dwight uses the same jargon earlier in the episode when talking to Michael.) Angela asks, What's your twenty? CB slang for "What is your location?"
- Andy and Michael sing "Your Body Is a Wonderland" by John Mayer.
- Kelly sings "We Belong" by Pat Benetar.
- Creed performs "Spinnin' 'n' Reelin'", one of his own songs.
- Dwight sings the Styx song, "Lady".
- Angela sings "The Little Drummer Boy", a traditional Christmas song.
- Jim tells Michael that he just had a rebound. A "rebound relationship" is one formed too quickly after a long-term relationship has broken up. Michael reinterprets the term literally, comparing it to a rebound in the sport of basketball.
- Domo arigato, Mr. Scott-o is a pun on the chorus of the song "Mr. Roboto." The actual lyrics are "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto."
- Langley, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., is the location of CIA headquarters.
- The karaoke song Kevin sings is "You Oughta Know", a popular song from the 90s by musician Alanis Morissette.
- Angela sings the Christmas song, "The Little Drummer Boy".
- Steve Carell as Michael Scott
- Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
- John Krasinski as Jim Halpert
- Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
- B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard
- David Denman as Roy Anderson
- Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson
- Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone
- Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer
- Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor
- Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin
- Paul Lieberstein as Toby Flenderson
- Oscar Nunez as Oscar Martinez
- Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Lapin
- Ed Helms as Andy Bernard
- Rashida Jones as Karen Filippelli
- Creed Bratton as Creed Bratton
- Craig Robinson as Darryl Philbin
- Nancy Walls as Carol Stills
- Ursula Burton as Hannah Smoterich-Barr
- Tom W. Chick as Gil
- Brittany Ishibashi as Cindy
- Kathrien Ahn as Amy
- Kulap Vilaysack as Nikki
- Stephen Saux as Justin Spitzer
- Chatree "Chad" Yodvisitsak as Benihana Chef
- Annie Sertich as woman at Hibachi Table
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 39: A Benihana Christmas w/ Rashida Jones and Jen Celotta. "Office Ladies" podcast, August 6, 2020.
- (broken link), show propmaster.
- Paley Fest: The Office
- Kaling, Mindy. Le French Sex Shoppe blog entry.
- Tan, Jennie. NBC's 'The Office' auction starts Jan 21, Office Tally blog, January 20, 2008.
- Germ, Eric. 7 Fake Movie And TV Drinks That Got Us Drunk In Real Life. Cracked.com, June 13, 2015.
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 64: Revisited with Randall Einhorn. "Office Ladies" podcast, February 10, 2021.
- DVD commentary, "Company Picnic."
- Holman, Curt. 'The Office's' Andy Bernard returns to Atlanta, Creative Loafing web site, March 21. 2007.
- Mayer, John. That's "Dundie Winner" John Mayer, blog, December 14, 2006.
- Mayer, John. John Mayer describing how he traded for a Dundie!
|The Accountants||The Office - Season 3||Season 4|
|#01 Gay Witch Hunt||#07 Branch Closing||#13 The Return||#19 Safety Training|
|#02 The Convention||#08 The Merger||#14 Ben Franklin||#20 Product Recall|
|#03 The Coup||#09 The Convict||#15 Phyllis' Wedding||#21 Women's Appreciation|
|#04 Grief Counseling||#10 A Benihana Christmas||#16 Business School||#22 Beach Games|
|#05 Initiation||#11 Back From Vacation||#17 Cocktails||#23 The Job|
|#06 Diwali||#12 Traveling Salesmen||#18 The Negotiation|