timesleader.com

Ain’t no party like a Scranton ‘wrap’

By Mary Therese Biebel

May 2, 2013

Was Jim and Pam’s wedding your favorite episode of “The Office?” Or did you like the way she walked over the hot coals on the beach and turned really honest?


How about the time Angela found out about the senator’s affair with Oscar? Or when she gave Dwight’s rough-around-the-edges relative a bath?


Maybe it was when Andy returned to Dunder-Mifflin after his extended sea voyage. Or when Toby climbed a chain-link fence and ran away.


No, wait, it was when Dwight showed up at the Christmas party dressed as a kind of creepy backwoods Belsnickel, wasn’t it? He was prepared to beat any of his co-workers whose behavior had been “impish” rather than “admirable.”


For nine years, this quirky bunch of office-paper salespeople has entertained viewers, prompting — dare we say it? — reams of laughter. As the final season draws closer to the May 16 final episode, fans will gather tomorrow for a “Wrap Party” in Scranton — the city it graced with an extra dollop of fame.


“When I put a University of Scranton sticker on the back of my car, my one neighbor said, ‘Oh, you want to be part of ‘The Office,’ ” said long-time fan Meredith Lubas, 21, of Clark, N.J., who has been watching the show since its inception.


Lubas decided to study nursing at the University of Scranton for reasons other than the city’s connection to “The Office,” but after she arrived, she was happy to discover that many students regularly meet on Thursday evenings to watch the show in groups of a dozen or more — and count the local references.


When characters talk about Cooper’s Restaurant, Lake Scranton, Farley’s, the Steamtown Mall or even the Archbald Pothole, Student Government president Oliver Strickland, 22, of Scranton said, students want to visit those places.


“If something is mentioned on the show,” he said, “it goes on the bucket list.”


Strickland, who helped organize Saturday’s events, said his favorite part of the show was the rivalry between characters Dwight and Jim that included a stapler encased in gelatin, dressing to impersonate each other and various other pranks. “But I have an allegiance to (human-resources manager) Toby,” he said, “because I’m a human-resources major.”


Lubas, because she shares a first name with another character, has a fondness for the scrappy, defiant Meredith, who seems to always get hurt, whether by a bat bite, broken pelvis or lice infestation.


“My goal for Saturday is to get a photo taken with her,” said Lubas, adding earlier this week she might wear a bright red wig, the better to be noticed by the actress.


As crazy as their behavior can be, Lubas said, she finds the characters on “The Office” “so lovable, each in their own distinct way. You fall in love with each character for who they are.”


“Part of what makes it funny is the dry humor,” said Rob Knight, 27, of Wilkes-Barre, who hopes to attend Saturday’s Wrap Party.


“You were never quite 100 percent sure what all this ‘videotaping’ was about,” he said, referring to the premise that the characters often stepped apart from the action to be interviewed in a one-on-one format that apparently made them feel sufficiently comfortable to say what they really felt.


Cast members who are expected to appear this weekend include Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ellie Kemper, Brian Baumgartner, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Paul Lieberstein, Kate Flannery, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson and Andy Buckley along with executive producer Greg Daniels.


The day’s events include a bloggers breakfast at 8:30 a.m., a behind-the-scenes question-and-answer session with Daniels, the writers and coordinators, and a 2 p.m. parade and street fair. The cast-farewell party is set for 7 p.m.