Improvised or scripted?


I’m a big fan of the American version of “The Office.” The mockumentary aired on NBC for nine seasons, and it’s on Netflix and in endless reruns on basic cable today.

I’ve watched some classic episodes of the quirky comedy at least a dozen times. I know that “The Office” includes at least three references to the show “Lost.” I can sing along to “That One Night.” I’ve even wondered how “Office” characters would have worked at a newspaper instead of a paper company.

This year, I’ve been enjoying a podcast called “Office Ladies.” Each week, “Office” actors Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have an in-depth discussion about an episode of the show.

Fischer and Kinsey also respond to questions from fans that are submitted by email. A frequent one: “Was that scene scripted or improvised?”

I can tell by the way Fischer and Kinsey read and respond to that question that the person asking it is hoping for “improvised” as the answer. Typically, the answer is the scene was performed as written.

There’s something special about a spontaneous moment on the set of a movie or TV show. But there’s also as much, if not more, to be said for writing and editing. It takes time, effort and collaboration to create a great script — or a great news story.

On their podcast, Fischer and Kinsey always give high praise to the show’s writers, some of whom also acted in the series. “Office” fans, even those who love improv as much as Michael Scott does, should too.


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