Night Out (The Office)
|The Office episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Ken Whittingham|
|Written by||Mindy Kaling|
|Original air date||April 24, 2008|
"Night Out" is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's sixty-eighth episode overall. The episode was written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Ken Whittingham. It first aired in the United States on April 24, 2008 on NBC. "Night Out" was viewed by a measured audience of over 7.5 million people, bringing in the lowest number of estimated viewers that The Office received among 12 episodes. "Night Out" received mixed reviews from critics.
In the episode, Michael and Dwight travel to New York City to party with Ryan. Ryan starts acting erratically, and it is revealed that he is under the influence of drugs. Meanwhile, the remaining employees are going to be forced to work on a Saturday. Jim proposes that they work late on Friday, so they do not have to come in the next day. Once Jim and his co-workers finish working, they find that they are locked in, and everyone quickly places the blame on Jim.
Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak) arrives at the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and is noticeably friendlier than on his previous visits. Ryan shows the staff at the branch the new Dunder Mifflin website, "Dunder Mifflin Infinity 2.0", the previous version of which was shut down because sexual predators had invaded the social networking component of the site. As Ryan leaves, he tells Michael Scott (Steve Carell) of the women he meets in clubs in New York City. Michael and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) subsequently decide to go to New York, locate Ryan, attend parties with him, and try to meet women while doing so.
In New York, Michael and Dwight locate Ryan after discovering which club Ryan frequents; Ryan is thrilled to see them but appears to be under the influence of drugs though Michael and Dwight do not notice. Later, Michael, Dwight, Ryan and Ryan's colleague, Troy Undercook (Noel Petok) (who Dwight is certain is a Hobbit due to his short stature) wait outside another club, but fail to get in because they do not have dates. Dwight comes to the rescue when he manages to pair each of them with members of a women's basketball team, who are also waiting in line. Inside the club, Ryan's dancing becomes erratic and aggressive, and he accidentally hits a girl, prompting her friends to attack Ryan. Dwight and Michael escort him out of the club, and after Troy advises them not to take Ryan to a hospital, he runs off. Michael and Dwight bring Ryan back to his apartment, where he tells them that he thinks his "friend Troy" has a drug problem, and asks what he should do about it. Michael, oblivious to the fact that Ryan is obviously referring to his own drug addiction, gives him hypothetical advice involving a wiretap and snitching on a drug dealer. He then tells the camera that he has been watching The Wire but does not understand what is going on in the show.
Back in Scranton, the rest of the employees are going to be forced to work on a Saturday to record their own sales as the website's sales, which is, according to Ryan, "a temporary procedure to increase the legitimacy of the website." With no one eager to participate, Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) decides to ask everyone to stay in the office late instead of coming in for the Saturday. They all agree to the plan, and after working until 9:00 pm, they are shocked to find the parking lot gates locked. Jim had forgotten to tell the security guard that they were staying late. They are unable to return to the office because Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) locked the door from the inside, and Dwight, miles away in New York, has both the spare and master keys. Jim repeatedly calls Hank the security guard (Hugh Dane). Sitting in the lobby area waiting for the security guard to arrive, the employees exchange jokes and during a moment of levity, Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) affectionately places his hand on Pam's knee. After an awkward silence, Toby proclaims that he is moving to Costa Rica; he then hops the parking lot fence and runs away. The cleaning staff arrives and lets the group out. At the end of the episode, Hank finally shows up but is upset because everyone but the cleaning staff is gone.
"Night Out" was the seventh episode of the series directed by Ken Whittingham. It was written by Mindy Kaling, who also acts in the show as customer-service representative Kelly Kapoor. The episode was the eighth of the series to be written by Kaling. "Night Out" was the third new episode of The Office to be broadcast since the episode "The Deposition" on November 15, 2007, due to the effects of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Filming of The Office immediately halted on that date, because many members of the cast including Carell, Novak, Kaling, and Lieberstein are members of the WGA and refused to cross WGA picket lines. If not for the writers' strike, this episode would have most likely been filmed in November 2007.
Most of "Night Out" was shot during the night. The scene that has Toby putting his hand on Pam's knee was shot at 2:30 am on a Friday. The scene was shot about eight times because according to Kaling, "everyone kept breaking because Toby was so vulnerable and awkward." Kate Flannery did her stunts in the scene where Pam throws a football and hits Customer and Supplier Relations worker Meredith Palmer (Flannery) in the face. Flannery had a stunt double on the set, but she was never needed for the scene. Kate recalls that she "didn't get a scratch in all 14 takes that we shot." Lieberstein on the other hand used a stunt double for the scene in which Toby climbs over the fence. Although Lieberstein offered to do the stunt himself, executive producer and show runner Greg Daniels decided against it.
When casting "Tall Girl #1" (the woman who would kiss with Dwight), the show was looking for a girl 6'1'' or taller. Actress Cassie Fliegel, who is 5'11'', auditioned for the part anyway. After getting a callback, Fliegel went to a gym to work out, attempting to gain muscle to look more like a basketball player. On the day of the callbacks, Fliegel remembers being next to a girl who was 6'8''. Despite her size, Fliegel, a former basketball player herself, was cast for the part. Initially, she did not know that her character was going to make out with Dwight. Fliegel recalls that when she first heard about kissing Dwight she "was like, I don't think so". However, after finding out that she had her own trailer, Fliegel warmed up to the idea. The music in the club was chosen by Novak, Kaling's then-boyfriend Benjamin Nugent, and Daniel Chun. When filming Ryan dancing in the club, the girl that Ryan hit was actually a stunt woman. Pads had been placed on the floor so Novak could fall down safely. The German lullaby that Dwight sang to Ryan was script supervisor Veda Semarne's idea. Semarne's Austrian grandmother sang the same song to her when she was a child.
"Night Out" received 4.0/10 in the ages 18–49 demographic in the Nielsen ratings. This means that four percent of all households with an 18 to 49 year old living in it watched the episode, and ten percent had their televisions tuned to the channel at any point. The episode was watched by 7.56 million viewers. "Night Out" did not do as well as "Chair Model" did the week before, losing 20 percent of the previous episode's viewers. Some attribute the loss of viewers to a lack of Grey's Anatomy and a repeat of CSI the previous week. With 7.69 million, "Night Out" had fewer viewers than any other episode of The Office from the fourth season, except for "Job Fair", which garnered only 7.16 million viewers.
Reviews for "Night Out" were mixed. Zap2It's Rick Porter thought that although it wasn't "as sublime in its Needy Michael-ness as last week's (episode)" and "in some ways, though, it was maybe even a little sadder", "Night Out" was "still pretty darn funny". Porter went on to praise the acting work of both B.J. Novak and Paul Lieberstein, as well as the writing of Mindy Kaling. TV Squad's Jay Black said that Michael summed up "Night Out" perfectly when he said "Best. Night. Ever." Black went on to praise both of the storylines, and the ability of the show to achieve success both in as well as out of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton building. Similar to Black's statements, Gretchen Hansen of Entertainment Weekly stated that "'Best. Night. Ever.' Oh, so true, Michael." She also stated that "I guess I knew it was going to be a good episode of The Office when I had two pages of scribbled notes before the first commercial break." Hansen went on to praise both the acting and the writing of the episode as points that contributed to the success of the episode. Rachel Cericola, of TV Fodder, praised the writing of the episode by Mindy Kaling. She also praised the storyline of the episode that didn't involve Michael and Dwight, saying "The second plotline was its usual funny filler. However, it was Toby's revelation that made it all worthwhile."
Travis Fickett of IGN said that the episode was "still satisfying, even when it's not one of the show's funnier episodes", but "it's a bit of a shame this episode wasn't a home run, because having Dwight and Michael hit the clubs is a funny idea." Fickett went on to praise the episode's awkward moment between Toby and Pam, when Toby placed his hand on Pam's leg, and Toby's subsequent escape by hopping the fence. Fickett stated that, for Toby's growing love of Pam, and growing jealousy of Jim, "this is pretty great pay off". Claire Zulkey, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, was not as pleased with the episode. Zulkey wrote "that when it's at its zaniest, The Office is at its worst", and the episode was "just too silly to be funny". Zulkey did say that "it was hilarious to see him (Toby) let his hand more-than-linger on her knee and then abruptly flee the premises by jumping over the fence and running home." In a poll done by Office fansite OfficeTally.com, viewers ranked "Night Out" as the 13th-most popular episode out of the 14 episodes of season four.
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