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Lee Eisenberg (co-writer): We set it up so in the cold open Michael pretends there’s an emergency.
They’re all gonna have to stay late that night, so everyone has to cancel their plans.
Much of the press had dismissed it as a pale retread of the groundbreaking Ricky Gervais-led U. original, and its ratings had fallen each week it had been on the air.
Taking the action away from the Dunder Mifflin office, “The Dinner Party” provides a rare glimpse into the home life of regional manager Michael Scott (Carell) as he hosts an impromptu get-together for three couples: salesman Jim Halpert and receptionist Pam Beesly, salesman Andy Bernard and accountant Angela Martin, and party-crasher Dwight Schrute and his former babysitter/current lover, Melvina.It’s that pressure-cooker aspect that heightens everything, plus the decorum of the dinner party, the sort of need to rise to a different sort of social construct, as opposed to just being co-workers in an office space.It’s just a boiling-hot crucible of comedy.” To celebrate its 10th anniversary, we tracked much of the cast and crew for an oral history of the landmark episode. Writing ‘The Dinner Party’ Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg joined the “Office” writing staff in Season Two, penning memorable episodes such as “The Secret” and “Women’s Appreciation.” Gene Stupnitsky (co-writer): We kind of talked about “The Dinner Party” as Who’s Afraid of Jan Levinson-Gould? And just the world’s worst dinner party, the most awkward dinner party – with your boss.We had set it up earlier, where Michael kept asking Jim and Pam for plans, and they kept having excuses.Greg Daniels (executive producer/co-creator): In the very beginning, the episode was called “Virginia Woolf” in my notes, and the idea was to have Jim and Pam have this super-uncomfortable night seeing all the awkwardness of Michael and Jan’s relationship and watching it melt down in front of them, in a comedy version of the Albee play.