The name “Scrantonicity” is a pun based on the song “Synchronicity” by the Police. It was first used on The Office in the episode “Casino Night,” when Jim was helping Pam find a band to play at her wedding to Roy. They discovered that “Scrantonicity” was a Police tribute band, with co-worker Kevin Malone playing the drums. The band was mentioned in a few more episodes, “Money,” “Diwali,” and “Phyllis’ Wedding,” and then the running gag was apparently retired. I decided to revive “Scrantonicity” as the name of this column where we discuss all the various ways that the show maintains the illusion that it actually takes place in Scranton, Pa; the local product placements, the name-dropped shops and restaurants, etc. Then there are the geographical gaffes, where, despite their efforts, southern California often doesn’t quite look like northeastern Pennsylvania. But they do try, and we try and recognize that. Anyway, I wasn’t even all that familiar with the Police song “Synchronicity,” so I found the music online. Now as I’m listening to the tune, I’m imagining it being sung acapella-style, by “Here Comes Treble.” It’s not easy, but it helps to put me in a “Dunder Mifflin mood.”
So, now I’m in that “Dunder Mifflin mood,” and I’ll go through the treble, I mean trouble, of sniffing out what little “Scrantonicity” there is in this episode. First of all, everyone in the office is now drinking LaCroix sparkling water. The Wegman’s soda is gone. The Shasta has been banished; the Crystal Club snubbed. Now, apparently the set decorator is on somewhat of a health kick, and all the actors have sparkling water in front of them, or in their hands; this includes all the members of the Cornell acapella group, and the office employees. Nellie is shown sipping a LaCroix through a straw. I wonder if any thought went into this, or is it just a random happening? Is it simply a case of whatever case of beverage is handy, gets distributed on the set. Are there pushy product placement “pushers” jostling for position, to make sure that their product is “handy?”
Another observation would be about the ever-changing “still-life” of products on top of the break room refrigerator. The boxes and cartons and packages appear to be artfully arranged, almost “fussed over,” in a different set-up every episode. This week I noticed some new items along with the usual selection of fine Utz Cheese Balls and Potato Chips. There was a box of Wegman’s Raisins, next to a taller box of Wegman’s Strawberry Cream-flavored Shredded Wheat. Next to that, it took a little detective work to track down the blue “O.” That turned out to be Wegman’s “W-O’s,” a chocolate sandwich creme cookie which is obviously a knock-off Oreo. It is easy to picture Kevin Malone dunking half-a-package of “W-O’s” as a snack. Meanwhile, on the front of the refrigerator, which changes less often, there is now a menu for Blu Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant in Dickson City, Pa. The Office first referenced Blu Wasabi ‘way back in the episode “PDA,” when Jim wanted to take Pam there for Valentine’s Day. And on the side of the refrigerator, I could see a menu dedicated exclusively to cheesecakes. I can’t read much on the menu, but a good guess would be that it is from the “Pocono Cheesecake Factory.” If someone reading this recognizes that menu as being from another bakery, please let us know in the comments. Someday, I would like to read a brief interview with the show’s “designated reefer-decorator.” They’ll probably say it was an important job, that was sadly unsung; and that some of their best arrangements most often were overlooked. Well, not by Scrantonicity!
At the beginning of the show, we see all the workers arriving at Dunder Mifflin in the morning. Since this is supposedly a show about nine-to-five drones, I assume that they begin their day at nine. Right after Andy’s entrance, the acapella group “Here Comes Treble” files in. They all go to college at Cornell. (Ever heard of it?) Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York, which is 106 miles north of Scranton. That’s a two-hour drive on New York State Route 79, to I-81 south. That means that the pert n’ perky singers had to all roll out of bed at 6 AM to get spiffed up in their jaunty ties and sportcoats for the van ride down to Scranton; not to mention blowing off all of their classes for the day! This is for Andy, an alumnus that they appear to know or care very little about. Yeah, that seems weird.
Weirder still would be Jim’s lunch meeting with the other investors. Since this new sports-agent venture will be headquartered in Philadelphia, that’s probably where the lunch took place. Philadelphia is 125 miles south of Scranton, a two hour and 20 minute jaunt down I-476, the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Jim would have to leave the office at 9:40 in the morning to make it there by noon. And that’s assuming that there are no traffic or construction or weather-related delays on the Schuylkill Expressway, and when has that ever happened!?! (No, I have no idea whether Jim Halpert would have had to drive the infamous Schuylkill; I just felt like name-dropping that in there.) Anyway, assuming a one-hour lunch, that would put Jim back at Dunder-Mifflin at 4:20, just in time for the “Here Comes Treble” late-afternoon croon in the conference room. Along with the “Here Comes Trouble” argument he had with Pam.
I’d like to point out a small continuity slip-up that I encountered while researching this Scrantonicity. It’s really no big deal at all; in fact I almost never find them on this show. But early on, Dwight is conversing with Nellie about the little “Dumatril” pill that he found on the floor. There is a toy truck with some illegible writing on the door panel behind Dwight’s left shoulder. I focused on that toy truck, trying in vain to read the logo. The scene suddenly switches to Nellie, and then immediately back to Dwight, and the toy truck has now jumped over Dwight’s right shoulder, even though he hasn’t moved! Again, no biggie, just fun to find.
Finally, even when there is almost no Scrantonicity to speak of, or when I’m not overly crazy about a particular episode, I don’t lose heart. That’s because I abide by these words of wisdom from Erin: “When you’re with someone, you put up with the stuff that makes you lose respect for them. And that is love.”
~ Broccoli Bob