"Launch Party" is the fifth/sixth episode of the fourth season of The Office and is the show's 58th/59th episode overall. It was written by Jennifer Celotta and directed by Ken Whittingham. It first aired on October 11, 2007 and was an hour-long episode. It was viewed by 8.91 million people.

Synopsis

In a meeting, the staff appear to be unusually engaged in listening to Michael's absurd ramblings. But in a talking head interview, Jim reveals that they're actually watching the television screen next to Michael, which is showing a DVD screensaver logo bouncing around. They are intently watching to see if the logo ever bounces directly into the corner of the screen, and their audible reactions (which Michael misinterprets as responses to the things he's saying) come as the logo just misses. Eventually the logo does bounce into the corner, and everyone erupts in celebration. The employees then stand up and walk out abruptly. Michael, still obliviously thinking the adulation is meant for him, says in interview that "Some days I am just on fire!"

As Meredith returns to work at the office, Michael makes preparations to attend the New York launch party of the new Dunder Mifflin Infinity website. Each branch is to have its own satellite party connected by webcams.

When he hears that the website is expected to become the company's best salesman, Dwight decides to compete against it. Andy keeps a running tally of reams sold, blowing an air horn each time Dwight makes a sale. Irritated by the distraction, Jim plots with Pam on a prank. They send Dwight instant messages pretending to be the company's computer system, which has become self-aware and taunts Dwight.

A contributing factor to the website's success is Kelly, who places orders on the web site to see the cute animations. Dwight demands that she cancel the order, but Darryl steps in to defend her.

At the end of the selling period, Dwight wins the challenge, but when he gloats to Angela about his victory, she rejects him outright and makes it clear that they are broken up for good. Pam, feeling sorry for Dwight, sends another message as the computer acknowledging him as a superior being.

Jan tells Michael she doesn't want to go to the launch party (since it will be filled with former coworkers), so Michael invites Jim to accompany him. As they cross the Pennsylvania border, Jim realizes that Michael received an "invitation" to an online chat room, not the actual party, and turns the car around. Michael returns to Scranton dejected and attempts to plan a better party. This irritates party planner Angela, who has already been in an exceptionally irritable mood.

Michael's attempt to create a better party in Scranton hits an early snag when he accidentally orders pizza from the office's least favorite pizzeria. Michael finally snaps when the delivery boy refuses to honor an ambiguous coupon. Michael then refuses to let the surly youngster leave unless he changes his mind about the discount. The other employees order new pizzas from their preferred establishment, and the party goes on even while Michael's kidnapping victim sits next to them. Jim and Pam escape to the rooftop with one of the pizzas, both to be by themselves and

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to avoid being associated with the delivery boy's detention.

When it's his turn to introduce the Scranton office to the rest of the company via webcam, Michael instead uses the opportunity to slam the website and point out that Dwight actually sold more paper on its first day. The pizza boy also uses the webcam to send out word that he's been kidnapped. Eventually, Michael has an epiphany about the fact that he's committed a crime, and lets the delivery boy go after Dwight pays full price for the pizzas.

Andy's romantic attentions turn to Angela, eventually serenading her with ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" in front of the entire office with his friends from his Cornell a cappella group backing him up on speakerphones. She doesn't give him an answer but has trouble stifling a smile. After the Scranton party, Michael decides that he wants authentic New York sushi, and he and Dwight crash the just-completed main party. One of Ryan's coworkers tells Michael they enjoyed his earlier webcam outburst because it clearly embarrassed Ryan. 

Deleted scenes

  • Andy describes how he sang his way into Cornell.
  • Pam tries to get Stanley's help for the party.
  • Angela complains about Denise Dem, the party planner at the Buffalo branch.
  • Kevin does more research into kidnapping and asportation.
  • Dwight tries to get the delivery boy to give up.
  • Toby goes through traffic school and talks about his ticket for driving too slow.
  • Oscar describes Toby's driving.
  • Creed goes to Michael's office and tells an elaborate story. Michael looks forward to telling this story at the party, but Creed tells him, "No, you can never tell this."[1]
  • Extension of phone call from Jan. Jan tells Michael about her day, including buying a $500 bicycle at Costco.[2]

Connections to other episodes

  • Dwight pulls out some leads he took from Staples, where he worked briefly in "The Return".

Continuity errors and goofs

  • Jim and Pam reminisce about when they first met. Jim says Pam walked him to his desk on his first day. Yet in "The Secret," Jim says he had a crush on Pam "When she first started." Jenna Fischer addressed attempts to reconcile this continuity error in Office Ladies: there is no explanation. It's just a mistake.
  • When Jim signs Meredith's cast, he accidentally signs "John Krasinski" on there instead of "Jim Halpert." John Krasinski is the name of the actor who plays Jim so Krasinski accidentally signed his real name instead of Jim's.

Trivia

  • In reality, casts are not made for pelvis fractures.
  • Phyllis's tips for dealing with difficult people are genuine.
  • Alfredo's Pizza Cafe is a real restaurant in Scranton. Pizza by Alfredo is not.
  • Dwight grows hemp on his farm even though it was illegal in Pennsylvania at the time.
  • This is arguably the third time we see Michael wearing women's clothing, the first instance being in "The Negotiation" when Darryl points out that he is wearing a woman's suit. The second instance being in "Fun Run," where he wears a pair of women's running shorts. On this occasion, Michael has called Pam, Kelly, Meredith, Angela, and Oscar into the conference room to determine if his shirt is too tight, a shirt which would appear to be a woman's shirt.
  • Kevin McHale, who plays the delivery boy, appears on Glee as wheelchair-bound Artie Abrams. Spoiler: In "Viewing Party" (whose title event revolves around an episode of Glee), Michael says that "the invalid" is his favorite character on the show.
  • Michael remembers that he has to buy shampoo when he says "no more tears". This implies that he uses Johnson's Baby Shampoo, since their tagline is "no more tears".
  • During Dwight's competition with the computer, he sends the computer an insult in binary, saying "Why don't you 0111111011011". The meaning of the binary message depends on the character encoding that Dwight had in mind. It could not be encoded using 7-bit nor 8-bit patters of an ASCII Table, for example, as the sequence has 13 bits and it is not divisible by 7 nor 8.
  • Angela is wearing cat-shaped earrings in the scene where she is complaining that her cat is still dead.
  • Even though Michael is looking at his own image on the TV and there is no indication that the speakers were on mute, there is no feedback when he talks about Dwight beating the website.
  • The delivery boy must have mistaken Dwight's hemp for marijuana which is probably why he referred to it as "really crappy weed", hemp generally doesn't have enough THC content for smoking as opposed to marijuana. Hemp is often confused with marijuana.
  • Michael takes his frustrations on Ryan out on the pizza delivery boy, saying "You don't even know anything about sales!", referring to Ryan never making any sales. This also makes sense as the pizza delivery kid is not a salesman, which is why he is confused when Michael says this to him.
  • Ryan says "How about that image? Crystal clear," even though the image quality is quite terrible.
  • Michael says "Give him a nice tip...no more than ten percent." Ten percent is considered a poor tip, and the standard tip expected is fifteen to twenty percent.

Behind the scenes

  • The cold open was inspired by actual events: The writers would watch the DVD logo bounce around the screen in the writers room. One time, episode writer Jen Celotta saw the DVD logo bounce into the corner, and "it just felt so good", but not everyone believed her.[3]
  • To film the cold open, the actors reacted to an empty screen. The bouncing DVD logo was added later. Steve Carell (Michael) had less flexibility with his performance because words in the speech were cues to the other actors for reacting to the imaginary logo.[4]
  • About eight casts were made for Kate Flannery to wear in the scene. On the first take, John Krasinski signed his real name by mistake, but they decided to use it anyway.[5]
  • Rainn Wilson's facial hair was real. The make-up department had to trim it every day to keep the length consistent.[6]
  • The character "Thomas Dean" was named after a P.A. on the show.[7]
  • Steve Carell (Michael) improvised many insults about Angela's height, only some of which made the final cut.[8]
  • When Pam types instant messages into the computer, the computer is set up so that the correct letter appears no matter what is typed. Jenna Fischer (Pam) was a professional transcriptionist and felt compelled to type the messages for real. However, the program printed two characters for every character typed, which frustrated her.[9]
  • In early takes of the scene when Angela condescendingly explains to Phyllis what forks and knives are, Angela Kinsey (Angela) held out her fingers like prongs of a fork. This looked too weird, so she switched to using the open palm gesture for knife. She was inspired by the cheerleading hand position known as "blades".[10]
  • Ed Helms (Andy) had a real bear horn on set, and he would goof around with it between takes. it went off for real in the scene in which Angela wrests the horn from Andy.[11]

Cultural References

  • Michael parodies John Denver's song "Leaving on a Jet Plane," when Jim says a fake goodbye to Pam.
  • Declaring "Not it" is a way of saying that you don't want to do something that has not yet been assigned. The last person to say "not it" loses and has to perform the task.
  • Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of rice and seafood. Michael wants "authentic New York-style sushi". There is no special "New York" style of sushi.
  • Dwight consumes an energy gel, a carbohydrate gel which provides energy for endurance events like long-distance running or bicycling.
  • Costco (mentioned in a deleted scene) is a national chain of retail warehouse stores.
  • "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" is a book by children's author Dr. Seuss. It describes a young boy's travels into the world and is commonly given as a graduation present. Michael substitutes "Green Eggs and Ham", calling it "the same sort of stuff". "Green Eggs and Ham" is a beginning reader book.
  • Michael wants Angela to get Al Roker, one of the co-hosts of the morning news and talk show Today, which broadcasts from New York City.
  • Andy serenades Angela by singing "Take a Chance on Me" by the Swedish band ABBA.
  • "No more tears" is the tagline of Johnson's Baby Shampoo.
  • While leaving, the pizza delivery boy shows Michael and Dwight the finger, which is considered an obscene gesture in American culture.
  • Dwight tells the delivery boy that he will have some basic rights as prisoner because "some town in Switzerland says so". Dwight is referring to the Geneva Conventions, an international treaty that establishes basic rights for wartime prisoners.
  • New York's Finest is often used to refer to the NYPD.

Cast

Main Cast

Supporting Cast

Guest Cast

References

  1. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 25:30.
  2. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 45:44.
  3. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 05:21.
  4. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 09:56.
  5. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 20:02.
  6. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 28:43.
  7. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 32:19.
  8. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 36:50.
  9. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 41:08.
  10. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 51:37.
  11. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 56:46.
  12. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 60: Launch Party, Part 1. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 13, 2021. Time code 32:39.
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