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"The Client" is the seventh episode of the second season of The Office and the 13th overall. It was written by Paul Lieberstein and directed by Greg Daniels. It first aired on November 8, 2005. It was viewed by 7.5 million people.

Cold Open

Ryan brings in Michael's lucky jeans from the dry cleaner. Pam snatches them up and unceremoniously stuffs them under the reception desk. She explains that Michael goes crazy when he has his jeans on, and it's probably the only reason he has casual Fridays.

Summary

Michael and Jan take a client to Chili's for an important meeting. Jan is disgusted with Michael's antics and general refusal to talk business but discovers at the end of the day that there is a method to his madness when the client bonds with Michael, allowing him to close the deal. Afterwards in the parking lot, Michael and recently divorced Jan share a kiss.

Meanwhile, Pam finds a screenplay written by Michael, and Jim leads the office staff in a table read of the script. An editing error in the script reveals that Michael based the incompetent sidekick on Dwight, who quickly shuts down the exercise to invite everyone to set off fireworks outside. Jim and Pam break off their respective evening plans to enjoy an impromptu dinner on the roof and watch the firework show, followed by swaying to music on his iPod. The next day, Jim makes a joke about their "first date", and Pam is too quick to tell him bluntly it was not a date, and that swaying is not dancing. Jim makes a snide comment about Roy and Pam's first date, at which he left her at a hockey game. Pam is offended by his comment and walks away.

The following morning, Dwight (who has slept in the office) and Angela independently observe Jan returning to her car (still parked at Dunder Mifflin), and word quickly travels around the office. Michael initially tells the documentary crew that "nothing happened," that they talked for several hours before falling asleep, but his story gradually changes to imply that they did more than just talk. Jan calls, clearly regretful for what she did the previous evening, but Michael refuses to accept her change of heart.

Deleted scenes

  • Michael tells an uninterested Pam about his new egg yolk diet. (Jenna Fischer breaks character and starts laughing.)
  • Michael empties the kitchen refrigerator of all foods containing carbs.
  • Michael jokes around with an unamused Jan regarding plans for the client meeting. In a talking head interview, Michael explains that he's a closer.
  • Jim visits the reception desk and asks Pam what she's doing. She admits she was just staring at her desk.
  • Phyllis tries gossip with Stanley, but Stanley ignores her.
  • The table reading reaches the last page of Threat Level: Midnight, which ends abruptly with Agent Michael Scarn jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
  • Jim describes to the camera his worst first date. He's being evasive and vague about details, but gradually it becomes clear that he's describing a date he went on with Pam before he learned she was engaged to Roy. He says he found out later that she didn't even think of it as a real date and she was in love with another guy. Jim concludes, "My best first date was also my worst first date."

Amusing details

  • Michael drives through a stop sign on the way to Chili's.
  • In the booth at Chili's, an "Awesome Blossom" sign hangs behind Jan, connecting to the role that the snack plays in getting Michael and Christian to bond.
  • In his pitch to Christian, Michael casually notes that he knows how many schools and hospitals there are in the county. Jan included this information in her briefing at the start of the episode.
  • Jan says the reason she and Gould divorced was that she wanted kids and he did not. However, in "Dinner Party", Jan is adamant about not bringing a kid into this "f***ed up world." 
  • Watch Jan's face change as she slowly realizes that Michael is closing the deal.
  • Even though Jan refused to agree on a secret signal, Michael uses an improvised signal to get her to keep quiet as he closes the sale.
  • In Michael's screenplay, Michael Scarn's love interest, Catherine Zeta-Jones, is reading back messages for his character, suggesting that Michael used his receptionist Pam as a model for his fictional love interest.
  • Dwight is the only person to follow Michael's instructions. Michael tells the office to "wish us luck" and to "sit tight until I return", both of which only Dwight does.
  • Jan says that their lunch meeting should only take an hour. It ends up lasting into the night.

Trivia

  • When Michael orders the "Awesome Blossom", he remembers the server's name. This reflects Michael's attention to personal relationships.
  • The writers did not write a punch line to the joke about the lighthouse.[1]:31:18 It is likely a reference to the urban legend of an encounter between a naval ship and what it believes to be another vessel which turns out to be a lighthouse.
  • Michael refers to the name of his screenplay, Threat Level: Midnight, in the episodes "Product Recall" and "Money".
  • Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) remarked that it was difficult to improvise the lines and give the impression that the character was actually reading the script. But Jenna Fischer (Pam) recalls that not all of the lines were improvised.[1]:44:43
  • Devon appears in the background of some deleted scenes even though he was fired in the episode Halloween. The original plan was to air this episode before Halloween, but NBC changed the airing order.[2]
  • Michael's lucky tie was sold at auction by NBC as a charity fundraiser.[3]
  • When the employees share their "worst first date", Oscar tells his story about a date with the woman with a checklist. At this point in the series, the writers had not chosen him to be gay yet. See Oscar's sexual orientation for further discussion.
  • Chili's makes its second appearance in the series. Actors and crew are unsure whether it is the same Chili's from The Dundies.
  • Tim Meadows (Christian) worked with Steve Carrell previously at Second City improv and with his wife Nancy (Carol) on SNL.
  • Meadows originally turned down this role but was talked into it.

Behind the scenes

  • The starting point for this episode was a card that said "Jim and Pam go on a date without really being on a date." The writers started with the final scene of Jim and Michael sharing looks and then worked backward to figure out how they could get there.[1]:07:46
  • The first date who did a background check really happened to writer Paul Lieberstein.[1]:23:44
  • The writers collectively developed the idea for Pam's first date.[1]:23:53
  • The illustrations which accompany Michael's screenplay were drawn by producer Greg Daniels. The crew initially used a professional artist, but the artist couldn't make the drawing bad enough.[4] Spoiler: In conjunction with the with the episode "Threat Level Midnight", NBC made the original cover illustration available for download. Download it here.
  • The scene in which Pam explains "Dwigt" was not in the original script. It was added after filming of the episode had completed because the writers realized that the joke needed explanation.[4]
  • Michael's talking-mouth necktie was custom-made for the episode.[1]:35:12
  • It was Tim Meadows's acting decision to have Christian stare ahead blankly while waiting for Michael and Jan to arrive.[4]
  • In the original script, the "baby back ribs" song was begun by Michael, and Christian joined in. During filming, they reworked the scene to the version you see in the episode.[1]:35:42
  • The slurping sounds of Michael and Christian eating ribs were made by Paul Lieberstein and Greg Daniels.[4]
  • There was no stunt coordinate for the fireworks. The actors were told to just goof around with the fireworks. The fireworks could not be shot into the air. They had to stay on the ground, due to local fire safety laws.[1]:48:36
  • Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski were carried to the roof in harnesses, for safety. The other crew members climbed up the fire escape.[5]
  • In the episode, Jim and Pam listen to Sing by the rock band Travis. Jenna Fischer recalls that the song on the iPod was something by the band Interpol and that the iPod belongs to actor John Krasinski.[1]:51:10
  • The wardrobe department had originally selected "sexy grey boxer-briefs" for Dwight to wear. Actor Rainn Wilson objected, saying that Dwight wouldn't wear that kind of underwear.[6]
  • Michael hides under his desk when he talks with Jan on the phone. This allowed the editors to combine the best parts of multiple takes[4] (including some improvisation)[1]:55:17, since you can't see Steve Carell's lips moving.

Cultural references

  • Casual Fridays is the practice of dressing less formally for work on Fridays. It became popular in the late 1990s.
  • USA Today is a national newspaper known for its colorful charts.
  • Radisson is a mid-range hotel chain. In reality, there is a Radisson in downtown Scranton.
  • Chili's is a chain of casual dining restaurants. In this episode, Michael says that there's a Chili's just a few blocks away. In reality, the nearest Chili's to Scranton is about 30 minutes' drive away in Wilkes-Barre.
  • To burn the midnight oil is to work late into the evening. Michael modifies the phrase in order to sound clever.
  • An Awesome Blossom® is a battered and deep-fried onion. A single blossom contains 203 grams of fat.
  • The story about the lighthouse and the naval vessel is a well-known joke. Read it here.
  • Saturn, Escort and Probe are models of automobile. The joke is based on puns: Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun. An escort is a euphemism for a prostitute. A probe is a device that is inserted into something to obtain information.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch is an American clothing store attracted toward teenagers and college students. Pam asks Michael if his jeans are from Abercrombie.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones is an Academy Award-winning actress.
  • Baby back ribs are pork ribs, typically prepared barbecued. Chili's has a special song to advertise its baby back ribs, which Michael and Christian perform together.
  • Oklahoma! is a prize-winning musical.
  • Samuel L. Chan is a combination of the names of actors Samuel L. Jackson and Jackie Chan. The character speaks in a bizarre mixture of Asian and black caricatures. The grammatical errors (incorrect verb forms) are associated with Asian speech, and word and brotha are associated with black urban speech. The term word is used incorrectly: It is a term of agreement.
  • Kevin gives Michael's screenplay two thumbs down. Thumbs up/thumbs down is the movie rating system used and trademarked by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in their movie review program At the Movies.
  • Goldenface may be derived from the James Bond movie Goldfinger.
  • Truth or Dare? is an adolescent party game in which players challenge each other with embarrassing questions and embarrassing tasks.
  • To kiss and tell is to reveal information about a romantic encounter.
  • Jan accuses Michael of slipping her something. The full phrase is to slip someone a mickey, to surreptitiously place an incapacitating drug into someone's drink in order to take advantage of the person.
  • Rocky is a movie about the boxer Rocky Balboa. In the movie, the title character drinks raw eggs for breakfast.
  • Michael throws away bread from the refrigerator. The Atkins Diet, which emphasizes avoidance of carbohydrates, became wildly popular in 2003.
  • The movie Glengarry Glenn Ross is about a highly competitive group of salesmen. Michael quotes the catch phrase always be closing and refers to the Glengarry leads scene.
  • Cugino's is an Italian restaurant in nearby Dunmore.

Quotes

See The Client Quotes

Cast

Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 13: The Client with Melora Hardin. "Office Ladies" podcast, January 29, 2020.
  2. Watching the EPISODES Out of Order ???
  3. Tan, Jennie. NBC's 'The Office' auction starts Jan. 21. Office Tally blog. January 20, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Season 2 DVD commentary, The Client.
  5. Fischer, Jenna. "The Client: Behind the scenes." MySpace blog, October 31, 2005. Captured by Jennie Tan, Jenna Fischer MySpace blog: "The Client" - Behind the Scenes, November 8, 2005.
  6. Novak, B.J. The Office Presents: The Client, TV Guide Blog, November 8, 2005.