The synopsis for “Couples Discount” sounded promising for “Scrantonicity:” “The office pairs off into pretend couples to take advantage of a Valentine’s Day discount at a local mini-mall.” But then the name or the location of the Scranton “mini-mall” is never elaborated on, so that was disappointing. Even more disappointing, in my opinion, was the absence of Bob Vance, the here-to-fore hopeless romantic that should have been there to escort his wife Phyllis to the spa. Has the passionate, white-hot ardor of Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration begun to… (ahem)… cool off? But I digress; As far as Scrantonicity is concerned, the mini-mall might remain a mystery, but other than that, there was enough local flavor to write home about.
Let’s start out with the big one; Jim and Pam have lunch at the State Street Grill. This restaurant is located in nearby Clark’s Summit, which would be about a half-hour drive from the mythical Dunder-Mifflin. It is on State Street (duh), near the intersection of Highland Avenue, making it walking distance for my sister and her husband. They often stroll down the hill for a romantic meal. The Office did their research to find a nice, somewhat low-key place for Jim and Pam to meet with Brian and his wife. As for the actual restaurant, the southern California stand-in has a similar feel in decor as the real State Street Grill, as I can see from the website photographs. Outside the window over Pam’s shoulder, I glimpsed the outdoor seating umbrellas, just as they appear on State Street. Nice attention to detail! (or maybe just a fortuitous coincidence)
The episode’s first Scrantonicity sighting was Kevin Malone, drinking directly from the carton of a half-gallon of milk. Wegman’s has been the go-to product placement for milk on The Office, but in this instance the carton is labeled “Farm Fresh.” Once I Googled “Farm Fresh,” I was directed here: (Scroll down to see Kevin’s milk carton.) Isn’t that cool? There is a company that specializes in prop products, with realistic-looking labels, when generics are called for onscreen. And obviously Wegman’s did not want to be associated with seriously outdated milk that tastes like, uh… “chunky lemon.” Imagine that.
Jim and Pam are having a conversation in the break room, and I was finally able to decipher the menu taped to the cabinet door. It is for Tiffany’s Tap And Grill in Eynon, Pa. I could make out the “Tap and Grill” wording, and then I Googled “Tap and Grills in Scranton, Pa” to find “Tiffany’s,” which matched the blurry print. It is a satisfying feeling to find stuff that way, even if it is kind of ridiculously pointless.
The Scranton “mini-mall” remained anonymous, but the exterior of “The Nail Luxury” is shown. That real salon is located on McBean Parkway in Valencia, California, about 15 miles from the show’s base in Van Nuys. The prop department did go to the trouble to put several, colorful “Greater Scranton Chamber Of Commerce” plaques next to the equally colorful “Nail Polish Center” on the back wall.
Pete is shown standing in front of one of the Dunder Mifflin bulletin boards. I could see a business card for Cleveland’s Car Care, and a flyer from “Cinnamon Bay Tans,” that proclaimed they are “Welcoming all newcomers to the Scranton area.” Well, a search for that establishment in Scranton turned up the “Cinnamon Bay Nail Salon” on Washington Avenue. That was probably the same place, and unfortunately they are now out of business. Sadly, I guess not enough newcomers to the area felt welcomed there. They should have tried a “”Couples Discount” promotion or two.
And even though this is not a local reference, I’ll include it anyway: I could read a plaque on Dunder Mifflin’s wall that is labeled “Certificate Of Participation,” and it was awarded to Marc Christie. According to Marc’s IMDb page (Internet Movie Data Base), he is employed as a camera and electrical technician, and he worked on the TV show The Office from 2005 to 2006. During that time he was a “key grip” and a “best boy.” I had to look these terms up: a “key grip” is in charge of the camera work on a televised production. And since the lively, single-camera set-up gives The Office such a unique signature “feel,” Marc Christie probably deserves his “Certificate Of Participation.” Then there is the “best boy,” who is the chief assistant to the gaffer, the head electrician. Which makes me think that when the lights went out at the recent Super Bowl, the big shots must have shouted “Where the heck is the gaffer?” And that best boy, too?” Now we know that would be the first thing to shout when the lights go out.