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''The Office''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2006

One of my little pleasures during the week is watching ''My Name Is Earl'' and ''The Office,'' together the best hour of comedy in prime time.

''Earl'' had an especially good episode recently, when it flashed back to Y2K events to show how Earl and the people around him marked the occasion; it was insanely hilarious. This week, it was ''The Office'' that showed its daring and skill.

The thread for the episode was Michael's birthday, and how he expected the office to celebrate it. That was funny enough, but ''The Office'' went a step further, having Kevin waiting to find out if he had skin cancer -- an event that spread through the Dunder Mifflin staff while Michael was obliviously anticipating birthday merriment. Then, as if that wasn't enough, there was a lovely little bit with Jim and Pam shopping. A lot of different things to juggle, and ''The Office'' pulled it off, making viewers squirm and giggle practically in the same moment.

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