Part of "The Office" died when Jim and Pam hooked up and started living their perfect little lives together.
It didn't help that their romance coincided with the NBC show's complete abandonment of anything resembling workplace reality. But in their own immaculate universe, held by the show's writers above all human ugliness and frailty, "Jam" has just been a bore. Any steps taken to bring them back to Earth — warping their harmony into holier-than-thou smugness, tempting Jim with a sexy new co-worker — were quickly tempered with more reminders that what Jim and Pam have is more special and perfect and special than what any of you have.
So last night's sign of trouble in paradise — the first in about four years — was welcome. Very, very sadistically welcome. As Jim and Pam clashed over a Scranton-to-Philly phone call, the issue suddenly swelling from her ineptness with an iPhone to his selfish career priorities, I couldn't help smiling. Not because the fight wasn't wrenching to watch. But because it was.
It was the first time since those kids had us cheering their long-awaited first kiss that they seemed like they live in our world again. And it's all but a promise that "The Office," winding down its final season, will make them work for their still-likely "happily ever after."
The call, which left Pam in tears, also prompted another weird turn in the show. Asking what she was doing wrong, Pam was soon consoled by Brian, a member of the documentary crew that's been filming Dunder-Mifflin for nine years now. They've been acknowledged from time to time before, but Brian's shocking step in front of the camera was the crew's first active part in the show.
It's kind of funny that the first time they dropped their spectatorial detachment was last night's fight — not any other character's emotional calamity, and not one of Dwight or Michael's dozens of near-death experiences. Maybe Jim and Pam really are more special than everyone else.