"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dinner & a TV Show: The Office - The Merger

I'm rarely home until at least 6pm or so most evenings, so I appreciate quick recipes.

Chili Jack Chicken

Skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
Prepared Mustard
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large skillet, brown chicken in butter for 10 minutes; drain. Add the broth, chilies, mustard, garlic, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Stir in the cream; simmer until thickened. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.

The Office: The Merger

The show has a great mix of normal characters I can easily relate to (such as Jim, Pam, and nearly everyone from the now-closed Stamford branch except Andy) working with over-the-top, abrasive and alternately creepy/annoying characters like Michael, Dwight and Andy. Arguably, the funniest moment in the entire episode was before the credits even began to roll, as Pam was making Dwight run laps around the office building, while "timing" him with an electronic thermometer. It was the kind of perfect Dwight-mocking prank that Pam and Jim excel at.

It's extremely painful to watch Pam get so excited by Jim's return only to be heartbroken when she sees he's apparently moved on to Karen. But as hard as it is for me to watch, things like this help ground the series in reality. After being rejected by Pam (and not hearing from her since, even though she had broken off her engagement) Jim would have been understandably hurt and frustrated. Having him act on a similar playful/flirty office relationship makes sense, from his character's standpoint -- he may have waited too long with Pam, and he wouldn't want to screw things up with Karen the same way.

With both Michael and Dwight toplining the antics in the Scranton office, one would think that the introduction of equally zany Andy would mean a little too much craziness in one office. But on the contrary, Andy's proven to be an even better source of hilarity than he ever was in the Stamford office, as he seeks to replace Dwight as Michael's lackey and even ends up hitting on Dwight's secret lover, Angela.

Based on the events of the Branch Closing episode, it was a little surprising that Jan wasn't in the office at all, only talking to Michael once during the day, after he fires Anthony. That seems extremely out of character for someone who didn't want to give Michael the job overseeing the combined offices in the first place. She has no faith in Michael's managerial abilities, and yet she allowed him to meet the Stamford employees by himself and show a "funny" with "a little bit of a zing to it" orientation video without her supervision.

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