This will be the next-to-last Scrantonicity, as The Office is fast approaching its finale. After this episode, there will be only one more opportunity for the city of Scranton and the surrounding communities to star on a major network TV show. So I will have one more opportunity to showcase my hometown by pointing out the hidden local references in the background, along with the more obvious ones. So, without further ado, ASAP, here is my initial reaction to A.A.R.M…
The “Assistant To the Assistant Regional Manager” starts out with Dwight Schrute scraping the old logo off of the used glass door he has just installed at Dunder-Mifflin’s entrance. Dwight explains that he bought the glass door from a jewelry store that went out of business. The logo consists of a gaudy diamond ring with the name of the jewelry store in fancy script letters. The beginning letters “B” and “i” are the only ones visible. I actually searched an internet list of Scranton jewelers, looking for a possible match. There were ninety four stores, but none spelled “Bi-.” I didn’t bother searching the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of southern California’s jewelry stores; I’m not that crazy.
Dwight is the new manager of Dunder-Mifflin, and he wasted no time in redecorating his office. Along with the stuffed boar’s head, and the photograph of the military drone, he has mounted a spiffy plaque, his March 2002 “Award Of Merit” from the “Greater Scranton Agrarians.” There is no existing Scranton chapter of the Agrarian Society, but according to the Wikipedia entry, the Amish and the Mennonites are included in the movement. That makes sense for a honor bestowed upon Dwight. The manager’s office also features a new mobile sculpture featuring all the Dunder-Mifflin employees’ names, and I was reminded again that the new “junior salesman” Clark’s last name is “Green.” Clark’s Green is a nearby suburb of Scranton, so that’s a cool, tip-of-the-hat inside joke.
Daryl is nabbed by his now ex-co-workers, as he tries to execute an “Irish exit” from Dunder-Mifflin. I had never heard of this quirky idiom before, as did neither my wife, who happens to be 100% Irish. I’m curious if anyone else was familiar with this term. Anyway, the rest of the workers are suddenly overcome with sentimental emotions about Daryl’s departure. Oscar whips out his phone to make lunch reservations at Cugino’s. This quaint Italian restaurant is located in my hometown of Dunmore, about a mile from where I lived, and was very high on my list of places to dine during my next visit. Unfortunately, according to Yelp, Cugino’s is now out of business! I dialed their phone number to see if that is true, and no one answered at 2 PM. That’s not a good sign… unless… Hmm, they were so busy serving late lunches that they didn’t bother picking up the ringing phone. Yeah, that could be it.
Pam watches a documentary-crew DVD compilation of tender moments she has shared with Jim Halpert through the years. In a scene from a Season One episode, “Basketball,” a vey boy-ish looking Jim is shown wearing a T-shirt that says “(something) Scranton,” and the shirt has blue and white stripes on it. Those are the colors of the University Of Scranton. This is interesting, because one of the “rules” of the show concerning product placement has been “no names on articles of clothing.” That explains why the actors did not wear shirts or hats adorned with local businesses. Coffee mugs, soda cans, yogurt cups and beer bottles were the “go-to” props, when it came to the actors physically holding a product. Apparently, this incident of Jim Halpert wearing a University Of Scranton T-shirt either slipped by the sleeping censors or was videotaped before the rule went into effect. That “rule” might be an agreement hammered out by the Actors’ Guild, to keep performers from becoming arbitrary “walking advertisements.” In a way, it’s too bad, because Jim Halpert would have naturally worn college T-shirts, and Kevin Malone would definitely have doffed baseball caps featuring various local bars’ logos.
Speaking of local bars, the action in A.A.R.M. finishes up at “Poor Richard’s Pub.” Poor Richard’s is a real bar in Scranton, that has been name-checked many times on the show. According to The Office’s Wikipedia page, the actual shooting location stand-in for Poor Richard’s has been Pickwick’s Pub in Woodland Hills, California. That would explain why they have a beer on tap called “Firestone IPA,” brewed in Paso Robles, California. But the prop department has been hard at work “Scranton-izing” the place. The bartender wears a red polo shirt with a gold crest that has “Scranton, Pa” embroidered on it. Plus, there are several 98.5 KRZ radio station stickers stuck around the bar, and all of the Dunder-Mifflin-ites are drinking bottles of Lion’s Head Ale, a microbrew from nearby Wilkes-Barre. (Odd… they all have the same taste in their beverage choice… Hmm… ) Furthermore, there is a plaque with a blue ribbon on it, honoring Poor Richard’s Pub as part of the “Best of 2012.” A nice touch is the start of the TV documentary “The Office: An American Workplace,” which features the logo of the local PBS channel WVIA. The graphic accompanying the logo is a director’s chair with the words “Original Documentaries,” and I suspect WVIA has used that graphic before.
And I wanted to point out this hilarious bit of “Scrantonicity” from NBC’s video series, “The Office Farewells: Rob Riggle.” Rob played the immortal Captain Jack from the “Booze Cruise,” and he was reminiscing about how much he enjoyed his time filming that episode. The only difficult challenge he encountered was his fierce “mental block” when it came to pronouncing the body of water the booze cruise supposedly took place on: Lake Wallenpaupack. For whatever weird reason, he had the hardest time saying that name, and scenes subsequently required several takes. “Wall-en-PAW-pack,” Rob. It’s not that long and hard. (Ahem… OK, all together now…) That’s what she said.