My long lost buddy Claire posed 2 questions in her comments yesterday. The first, I can answer quickly: I have no Orioles on my fantasy baseball team. Why would I? The second is trickier. While she was specifically asking about Jim Halpert's most recent prank on Dwight Schrute on NBC's The Office, the essence of her question was this: What is the best prank Jim ever played on Dwight? Wow. Well, I haven't done a top 10 list in a while, so this seems like a good opportunity. Here goes nothing. To begin, those that didn't quite make the cut:
HONORABLE MENTION: Jim tells Dwight that the Ben Franklin impersonator is "the real Ben Franklin"; Jim convinces Dwight that he has a "tell" at Casino Night; Jim convinces Dwight to explain to the Benihana's waitress how to "butcher a goose"; Jim stares at Dwight's forehead; Jim and Pam convince Dwight that he has "pretendinitis"; Jim submits Dwight's resume to Monster.com, Craigslist, and Google; Jim replaces Dwight's pens and pencils with crayons; Jim plants a bloody glove in Dwight's drawer; Jim convinces Dwight to deliver a Mussolini-like speech when he receives Salesman of the Year; Jim moves Dwight's desk into the men's room; Jim convinces Dwight that he (Jim) is telekinetic; Jim convinces Dwight that he (Jim) is a vampire; Jim trains Dwight to want an Altoid whenever he (Jim) starts his computer
And the final Honorable Mention choice goes to Jim forwarding Dwight's phone to his own--sorry, Claire, but there's just no way it cracks the top 10. But here are those that do--the Top 10 Jim Halpert Pranks of All-Time:
10. Jim gives Dwight Gaydar.
THE EPISODE: "Gay Witch Hunt" (Season 3)
THE PRANK: Michael inadvertently "outs" Oscar, so Michael and Dwight start wondering who else in the office might be gay. (Michael theorizes that Angela and Oscar might be having a gay affair--Jan says that's not possible--Michael says anything is possible.) Dwight calls Jim (in Stamford) because Jim once told him you could get Gaydar at Sharper Image. He claims that it's sold out, but in the final scene of the episode, Dwight gets the gadget in the mail from Jim. We can assume it's a metal detector since it goes off when it passes by Oscar's belt and, shortly thereafter, when it passes by Dwight's belt. Uh-oh.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: The great thing about this is that it falls right into Jim's lap and he knows exactly what to do with it. The effort he took in creating the Gaydar is impressive. Dwight's reaction when he sets it off is priceless.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Do some research. Find out if there's a way to tell just by looking at them." (Michael)
9. Jim convinces Dwight it's Friday.
THE EPISODE: "Performance Review" (Season 2)
THE PRANK: On some random Thursday, Dwight is, for whatever reason, convinced that it's Friday. So Jim goes with it. Dwight can't figure out why he went out drinking with his laser tag friends on a Thursday night, and he's furious that he missed The Apprentice.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: In large part because of the final scene when Dwight runs into the office, his shirt untucked and his hair mussed, finally realizing that it's a work day.
MEMORABLE LINE: "It's Thursday, but Dwight thinks it's Friday. So that's what I'm going to be doing this afternoon." (Jim)
8. Jim puts Dwight's stapler in Jell-O.
THE EPISODE: "The Pilot" (Season 1)
THE PRANK: Jim puts Dwight's stapler in Jell-O. That's about it. We're led to believe it's happened several times before.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: Because it's a classic. It's repeated with Andy when Jim goes to Stamford, but when you think of Jim and Dwight, you think of the stapler in Jell-O.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Dwight, I'm sorry because I've always been your biggest flan." (Jim)
7. Jim fills Dwight's handset with nickels.
THE EPISODE: "Conflict Resolution" (Season 2)
THE PRANK: When Michael is trying to resolve years' worth of conflicts between Jim and Dwight, Jim explains that he would add a couple of nickels to Dwight's handset every day until he got used to the weight, at which point he removed all of the nickels and, we assume, Dwight clocked himself with the new, seemingly-light receiver.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: While we don't actually see it happen, the image of Dwight taking a telephone receiver to the side of the head is very funny. And I think everyone now wants to try it and see if it would work. I do anyway.
MEMORABLE LINE: "That is not true. Redact it. Redact it!" (Dwight)
6. Jim (with help from Pam) sends Dwight classified letters from the CIA.
THE EPISODE: "A Benihana Christmas" (Season 3)
THE PRANK: It starts with Pam sending Dwight the letters, then she hands it off to Jim, who notifies Dwight that the CIA needs him at their Langley headquarters for training and an ice cream social with the other agents. Dwight waits for the helicopter on the roof until he gets a text message telling him to abort because the mission has been compromised.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: Excellent commitment to the prank from both Jim and Pam. Outstanding example of teamwork. And the finishing touch--convincing Dwight to "destroy" his phone by throwing it off the building--is spectacular.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Last year my boss, Michael Scott, took a day off because he said he had pneumonia, but really he was leaving early to go to magic camp." (Jim reading Dwight's secrets)
5. Jim does nothing with Dwight's wallet.
THE EPISODE: "Office Olympics" (Season 2)
THE PRANK: Jim finds Dwight's wallet in the parking lot and brings it to Pam because he can't decide what to do with it. After going through a variety of possibilities, they decide to return it to him untouched. Dwight, however, is suspicious and immediately cancels all of his credit cards.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: The brilliant simplicity. Like the classic Seinfeld episode in which Jerry's girlfriend just tells him that she put "something" of his in the toilet, Jim lets Dwight's imagination do the work for him.
MEMORABLE LINE: "I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what the best play is. Do we tear everything up, or do we buy a horse on the Internet? I mean, I don't know what to do." (Jim)
4. Jim dresses as Dwight.
THE EPISODE: "Product Recall" (Season 3)
THE PRANK: Jim sees a pair of glasses like the ones Dwight wears at the drugstore for $4. He buys a short-sleeved shirt and tie that look like something Dwight would wear for $7, and he wears them to work. "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica."
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: Maybe the best laugh-out-loud prank of all-time.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!" (Dwight)
3. Jim sends faxes from Future Dwight.
THE EPISODE: "Branch Closing" (Season 3)
THE PRANK: When Jim heads to Stamford, he steals some of Dwight's stationery and sends Dwight faxes. From himself. From the future.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: Because Dwight sprints across the room and knocks Stanley's coffee cup out of his hand before he can drink it. That was awesome.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Dwight: At 8 AM today, someone poisons the coffee. Do NOT drink the coffee. More instructions will follow. Cordially, Future Dwight." (Jim's fax to Dwight)
2. Jim forms an alliance with Dwight.
THE EPISODE: "The Alliance" (Season 1)
THE PRANK: Talk of downsizing makes Dwight nervous, so he approaches Jim to form an alliance. Jim agrees. In the prank's climax, Jim and Pam convince Dwight to hide in a box in the warehouse in hopes of overhearing a secret conversation.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: The prank concludes when Dwight emerges from the box as Roy watches, confused. Excellent pay-off.
MEMORABLE LINE: "Can I trust Jim? I don't know. Do I have a choice? No. I think, I don't. Will I trust Jim? Yes. Should I trust Jim? You tell me." (Dwight)
1. Jim puts Dwight's stuff in the vending machine.
THE EPISODE: "Booze Cruise" (Season 2)
THE PRANK: Jim is friendly with the vending machine guy, so when he comes to stock the machine, Jim convinces him to put some of Dwight's stuff--a pencil cup, a stapler, Dwight's wallet, etc.--in place of the typical fare.
WHY IT MAKES THE LIST: It makes the list because it's awesome, but it's #1 because it concludes with Jim and Pam handing him a bag of nickels with which to buy back his stuff. It keeps the prank from being mean-spirited without taking any of the edge off. Brilliant.
MEMORABLE LINE: "What do I want, what do I want? Ooh. Pencil cup." (Pam)
So there you have it. Discussion?