The Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
After describing his boss-as-a-friend mantra to Ryan, Michael wants to put the idea into action with Pam as the unfortunate prey. After dropping off a fax, Michael calls Pam in and proceeds to tell her that her job is the first victim of downsizing, without the least amount of possible subtlety. Michael says the reason is for stealing post-it notes at 50 cents a pad. Michael does an awful job of staying straight and even goes way over the line in telling her she doesn’t get severance.
After refuting the allegations, Pam begins to cry. Michael finally gives up the truth and begins to laugh. He also mentions to the lovely Miss Beesly that Ryan was in on it as well (who hangs his head and shakes out a no). Michael’s excuse is to boost morale on Ryan’s side of things, but I’m not sure it worked. After a little bit of ridicule, Pam strikes back, but Michael misses it. The awkwardness is almost palpable.
9 – What balls Michael has. If you’re going to fake fire someone, you have to do it to someone who isn’t going to break down and cry. The only reason it isn’t a 10 is the lack of involvement with Ryan as an accomplice.
9 – Way too far. Would have been a 10 if Michael would have let Pam pack up her stuff and leave before letting her in on the gag.
Sidekick Award – Ryan joins in the fun, despite never saying a word or being involved in any real way. The funniest thing about the situation is he looks so eager to pull the prank right until the moment when he realizes what Michael is really doing.
Bad Choice Award – Michael wins this one in record time. One of the best parts is that he doesn’t realize he’s crossed the line until the punch-line is over and Pam reacts. The even greater part is his line earlier in the day when referring to the stapler in jello. “The key to a good practical joke is to know when to start and to know when to stop.” That’s what we call foreshadowing.