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[Closed] Now Toby's absence makes sense
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Oct 23rd 2008 edited

When Paul Lieberstein effectively wrote his own character out of the show at the end of Season Four, one of those wonderfully under realized dark horse characters was lost. We don't get to see Toby as much as the others, but what we saw was sweet and kind and heartfelt, a truly sympathetic character. The abuse and injustice he would take from Michael was so sad and heartbreaking. He's the office martyr, the kid who always gets picked on for no reason, the wrongfully accused man who sits and takes the undeserved punishment silently. You feel so much emotion is in Toby, but he's just is too tired of Michael's verbal beatings and the endless tedium of office life to let any of it out.

When we said goodbye to Toby, so much potential was wasted. The one character that could use some serious development was cut out of the show with scalpel-like precision. By Season Four, the personalities and backgrounds of the secondary characters, Kelly, Phyllis, Meredith, Oscar, Kevin, Stanley, Andy, and even Creed were explored (Angela had really become a main character through her relationship with Dwight), but Toby was still relegated to the HR desk in the background and a one-line talking head every other episode. But since Amy Ryan as the slightly loopy new HR rep, Holly, has factored into the end of Season Four and Season Five as the Michael's new love interest (and as Jim observed, the female Michael) it all makes sense.

Paul Lieberstein is a genius. Paul Lieberstein, the writer, looked at the movement of the series without any regard for the ego of Paul Lieberstein, the actor. You can just see the writers sitting around brainstorming. Well, the Jan-Michael romance has pretty much run it's course, climaxing in "The Dinner Party". We're running the risk of overexposing Melora Hardin's character. We've basically exhausted our store of Jan storylines and threads. And we haven't had any new blood in the office since the start of Season Three with Andy and Karen. We've got to remove something of the old to make room for the new. I bet Paul Lieberstein spoke up and offered Toby up on the sacrificial alter.

The greatness of it is that now they've set up a great episode, Toby Returns. Just like we've not seen the last of Jan (or even Karen, methinks), the dark horse Toby will rise again. All the unrealized emotions and underlying tensions will be released in an epic fireworks display. Jan and Holly will clash in a battle of the pant suits. Karen--successful, beautiful, and in a reminiscing mood--will come back into the lives of a newly-married Mr. and Mrs. Halpert (will she be invited to the wedding?) and form yet another uncomfortable love triangle. And in the midst of it and, a suntanned and limping Toby will step back into Scranton--a new man or business as usual?

Oct 23rd 2008

Hey, guys, remember when we cared this much about the show and its characters? ;-)

Welcome, Beetjuice. We're always happy to greet newcomers to our little family. I'd suggest you look up the "Stir the Melting Pot" thread and tell us a little about yourself and how you became an Office fanatic.

Oct 23rd 2008

Karen--successful, beautiful, and in a reminiscing mood

Which Karen is this, again? Not the horrible harridan we saw in S3 and Branch Wars!

I never liked her much. :-)

Oct 23rd 2008

Hey Beetjuice. There's a thread already dedicated to Toby Talk, if you wouldn't mind reposting this there.

Closing 'er down.

Oct 23rd 2008

"Which Karen is this, again? Not the horrible harridan we saw in S3 and Branch Wars!"

I always felt Karen was an innocent bystander. She was an unfortunate victim of the the rebound. Jim left Scranton hurting, freshly rejected by Pam. Karen, unaware of their history, fell for the Halpert charm. She genuinely fell in love with him. And when Jim saw the chance to realize his dream to be with Pam, the new girl unfortunately got the short end of the stick. Karen and Jim were a great couple, but I guess ultimately not meant to be. But you could totally understand her hurt. I wouldn't call her a "horrible harridan", just a woman scorned.

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