Reviews for Welcome To Dunder Mifflin

by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A comprehensive view of the landmark TV show. Don’t be fooled by Baumgartner’s character on The Office, the lovable oaf Kevin Malone. This definitive oral history he created with executive producer Silverman is as sharp and well crafted as the groundbreaking comedy that inspired it. The American version of The Office made stars out of those on both sides of the camera. Steve Carell and John Krasinski became A-list celebrities, while creator and showrunner Greg Daniels has developed hits like Parks and Recreation. Baumgartner gets all of them, as well as nearly everyone else involved with the show, to talk about how it came together and why it became such an enduring success. (Notably absent from the discussions are writers/actors Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak.) Because he was a part of the process, Baumgartner is able to steer the conversations in well-informed ways—e.g., explaining why the ratings were even more important than usual to the experimental show and why they dictated NBC’s approvals of only a handful episodes at a time in the early years. Because Baumgartner’s Kevin was not the fake documentary’s central character (Carell’s awkward regional manager Michael Scott) or part of the love story (Krasinski’s Jim and Jenna Fischer’s Pam) at its core, he is able to observe more of the big picture than those in the eye of the publicity storm. He and Silverman also do a great job showing how shifting viewing habits—especially The Office’s stunning popularity on iTunes and now in reruns on streaming services—pushed it to new levels of popularity. Comedy is rarely simple, but the authors show how complex it was to make such a forward-thinking product. The contributors discuss their wide-ranging influences, including Molière, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, the visual style of Survivor, and the comedic timing of King of the Hill. They also discuss the agonizing decision-making processes behind the show’s major moments. A true insider’s guide filled with sweet surprises for fans and the brainy charm to make new ones. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.