This was gonna be the week that I finally stopped writing “Scrantonicity.” I usually slap it together on Friday after a new episode, and I knew I was gonna be too busy to work on it on this particular Friday. Besides, there were two episodes back-to-back, and neither one looked or sounded very “Scrantonistic.” The season is winding down, interest is waning, and the writers are mostly concerned with setting up the grand finale plots. So it seemed like the perfect time to bow out. But then… I got to rewatch the two shows on the internet… and like Michael Corleone grumbles in “Godfather III,” “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”
“Scrantonicity” has been all about documenting the charming “localization” of the show. Over the years, as The Office’s creative writing roster has inevitably changed, the new kids appear to have lost sight of the original mission. The Dunder-Mifflin dialogue doesn’t include many local references anymore. Back in the early days, you could have caught a decent buzz if you were playing a drinking game every time a real Scranton restaurant was name-checked. There were copious Cooper’s Seafood mentions, and numerous excursions to Poor Richard’s pub. That doesn’t happen so much anymore, and even most of the events that take place outside of Dunder-Mifflin remain a geographic mystery. For instance, there’s the political fund-raiser at Senator Lipton’s stately home; that probably would have taken place in Green Ridge or Clark’s Summit, but the location wasn’t mentioned. I know it doesn’t matter, and doesn’t serve to make the show any funnier. But it did add another level of complexity to The Office, like the many layers of an onion. Or a lingering “tasting note” of a fine wine.
The writers may have given up the ghost, but at least the prop department continues the fun tradition. This great gag from “Junior Salesman” is only visible if you freeze-frame the action, and even then you have to look very closely at Rolf’s heavily-redacted resumé. Dwight’s good friend “Rolf” is shown to reside at 187 Chestnut Street in Dunmore, which is the borough that borders Scranton, and happens to be my home town. Chestnut Street is real, and it runs through the heart of town right at Dunmore Corners. But on Rolf’s “carefully” constructed resumé, the name of the street is hilariously mis-spelled as “Chestunt” Street. And the upper Dunmore zip code of 18512 is erroneously listed instead as 18505, which is the actual zip for south Scranton where the Dunder-Mifflin office would be, if indeed it did exist. The prop department people are way too meticulous to make a mistake like that, except when they are emphasizing the point that Rolf is an idiot. Almost everything else on Rolf’s resumé is blacked out, with these exceptions: his “education,” which consists of a “minor in entrepreneurship;” his “experience,” which is “custom built furniture,” and his time spent being a “life coach,” (2007-2007). And under “special skills,” Rolf lists “clean license.” Then there is his web address, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. (“Yawho”…) If the prop department goes through this much trouble to make up Rolf’s resumé, for one second of unreadable air time, I figure it is my job to bring it to light. Somebody ought to do it. If it was a lingering taste note of a fine wine, somebody ought to drink it.
One more semi-interesting thing about Chestnut Street in Dunmore: my sister got married at Saint Mary’s of Mount Carmel church on Chestnut Street. We all knew St. Mary’s as the only Roman Catholic church is the USA that didn’t have any steps leading into the front doors; the aisle down the center of the church was at sidewalk level. I wonder if that still is the case? Maybe another church has been built like that recently, which would make sense as far as new guidelines for ADA-compliant construction. Or maybe the whole thing was always just one of those “urban myth” deals. I can’t find anything about it on the ‘net. Hmm…
Later in “Junior Salesman,” Trevor hands Dwight a bus transfer for validation. I couldn’t read any writing on the authentic-looking transfer, but I’ll bet it is a legitimate one from COLTS. (County Of Lackawanna Transit System.) Because that’s the way The Office prop department rolls. Props to them!
In the second episode, “Vandalism,” the bulk of the new “Scrantonicity” can be seen in Jim and Daryl’s Philadelphia bachelor pad. They’ve stocked up on household supplies from the Scranton-area Wegman’s supermarket, before driving south. (Or they stopped in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which is the closest Wegman’s to Philadelphia. It makes sense, because we’ve already seen from a previous episode a close-up of Jim Halpert’s wallet that shows he carries a Wegman’s “customer loyalty card.”) Jim is shown eating Wegman’s Blueberry Muffin Squares cereal, doused in Wegman’s milk. Later, Daryl and Jim are shown drinking Wegman’s Fountain Cream soda. I didn’t try to identify any of their toiletries in the bathroom scene, because that seemed a little too personal. There are some places that Scrantonicity does not feel comfortable prying.
It was fun researching the “Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters,” which is mentioned fondly by Dwight. I didn’t know anything about the fictional school from the Marvel Comics universe, but it was a hoot seeing how the Office writers gave Dwight such a colorful upbringing.
This is just a fun by-product of Scrantonicity, but I love when I find stuff like this. At 15:45 into the “Junior Salesman” episode, Dwight is pondering who among his friends he is going to hire. As he stands alone, talking to himself in the office, he delivers the following line: “And yet I’m hesitant; why can’t I pull the trigger on any of them?” On the word “can’t,” Rainn Wilson accidentally hacks up a huge spitball, which goes flying across the screen. It’s over in an instant, and the casual viewer would probably never notice it. Since no other actors were present, there was no danger of anyone being hit with the objectionable projectile. But it is jarringly funny to see, and noteworthy that they left it in there, rather than reshoot the scene. I guess they figured nobody, except maybe the “Scrantonicity” guy would catch it. Plus it’s the kind of off-the-wall anecdote that I can definitely see Rainn Wilson retelling on a late night talk show; the tale of his impromptu side-splitting “spit-take.”