The Dundies is memorable for a variety of reasons, but Steve Carell didn’t enjoy filming this episode of The Office. Although the workplace mockumentary is now hugely popular, there was a time when the show struggled to break free from the shadow of the original UK version starring Ricky Gervais. The Dundies was the first episode of season 2 and marked a turning point where, despite the story’s production problems, The Office truly found its feet.The US remake of The Office was developed by Greg Daniels and aired on NBC from 2005 2013, following the daily lives of employees at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Steve Carell played branch manager Michael Scott, whose repeated attempts to gain the admiration and friendship of his staff frequently end in disaster. The show is also known for its popular long term romance between Jim Halpert John Krasinski and Pam Beesly Jenna Fischer.Reviews for The Office’s first season were mixed, with critics comparing it unfavorably to the original BBC series. However The Dundies helped differentiate the remake’s tone and better flesh out its quirky ensemble. In the episode Michael hosts an extremely awkward awards ceremony for his employees at the local Chili’s, leading to his humiliation. Speaking on Brian Baumgartners The Office Deep Dive podcast via Showbiz CheatSheet Steve Carell referred to filming the important episode as a thorn in my side. Carell took issue with the use of product brand placement with last minute conflict almost ruining the production.
During the interview with Baumgartner, who played accountant Kevin Malone in The Office, Carell inquired Do you remember the product integration stuff that we had to go through To aid the show’s budget, producers incorporated certain brands into stories, with Carell citing a Staples paper shredder and filming in Chilis restaurant chain. He recalled it being one of the very few occasions where he voiced disapproval, thinking that partnering with corporations would fundamentally alter the show stating I was dead set against it. He thought each instance of product placement proved terrible, particularly when filming The Dundies. Chili’s took issue with the script, particularly Pam getting drunk and falling off her chair, and threatened to prohibit their brand from appearing in the show. This would have been disastrous, considering much of The Office’s Dundie awards story is set in the restaurant. Carell remembered We were three days into the shoot and at risk of losing the whole episode.
Pam’s drunken fall in The Dundies wasn’t originally scripted. On Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey’s Office Ladies podcast the actresses described how the original scene called for Pam to vomit on the bar, to which Chili’s strongly objected. Instead, a solution was quickly devised where instead of being overserved by the bar staff she would sneak drinks from her colleagues tables and then fall over. The new scene is arguably funnier than the original although it’s understandable why Carell didn’t like the filming situation. The Chili’s conflict also resulted in a terrific moment where, immediately following a drunk Pam declaring her love for the Dundie awards, the restaurant manager reveals Pam is banned from Chili’s. The new Office moment emphasizes Chili’s policy not to overserve customers and provides a hilarious cutaway to the managers’ deadpan reprimanding of her actions. The scene was forced into the episode but it’s a rare case of product placement inadvertently making a story even funnier.Carell took issue with The Office’s product placement, but it was a considerably better alternative to reducing the size of the cast for budgetary reasons. This was also addressed on Baumgartner’s podcast revealing that Carell immediately shut down the suggestion.The Dundies remains a memorable episode thanks to Pam’s drunken antics and provides an early occasion of Carell’s Michael Scott eliciting sympathy after being heckled by customers.