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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
After nine seasons, NBC’s The Office aired its final episode tonight. While I am still absorbing it all, I have to say it was a satisfying finale. It was unique in that there really wasn’t a plot in any traditional sense. Instead the writers framed it as a reunion show with everyone coming back and having one last interaction with each other. There were a ton of nods to past episodes and characters. This, if course, included a welcomed, but not overstayed cameo by Steve Carell as Michael Scott.
There were some bizarre things with the finale such as some subtle out-of-place character hook-ups, a padded first third, Erin’s long-lost parents, and the oddity surrounding the premise of the documentary. However, most everything worked and felt natural without being overly sentimental (oh, it was sentimental, but, unlike many other series-enders, it was not forced).
I wish I could say the same for the rest of this season. The Office’s farewell season was a rough one. There were some great bright spots, but it was also marred by some pure awfulness. The main culprit was the Jim/Pam story arc. It was excruciatingly terrible. They act completely out of character for the sake of “drama”, but then all their problems are solved with a hug. Very anti-climactic to an already terribly conceived storyline. I won’t dwell on it further, but you can read my in-depth analysis.
Andy’s story also hurt this season a lot too. His character completely disappears for weeks on end and then goes on this bizarre “I want to be famous” kick. Nothing clicked with it (including Rosanne’s underused guest spot). Now, I realize Andy’s story was likely truncated due to actor Ed Helms filming The Hangover, Part III, and the writers did the best they could. As the risk of sounding arrogant, I wish they could have done better.
However, springing out of the Andy story, we got a really solid subplot of Erin and newcomer Pete’s budding romance. I liked this a lot because A) it was very reminiscent of early Jim and Pam (in a good way), and B) really redeemed Erin’s character. As I lamented last year, I hated how dumb they made Erin to the point that she didn’t feel like a real person. The character of Pete really humanized her and returned her to the likable goof she was when she first appeared on the show. This story really worked for me.
Needless to say, I was completely disappointed when, after all the attention it got at the beginning of the year, the show completely ignored Erin/Pete during the back-half of the season. Why did they spend so much time on it if nothing was going to be done with it?
All that said, the biggest positive from this year was the annual Christmas episode. It was arguably the best episode the show had produced since “Threat Level Midnight” in 2011 or, possibly, the first half of “Stress Relief” in 2009.
I also appreciated all the Dwight/Jim moments this season produced. I really feel that the show was its strongest when these two either paired up or faced off against one another. John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson have terrific comic timing and chemistry.
Thus, The Office ends. This is a strange thought to me as this is a show I have watched since day one (March 24, 2005). Even though the last few seasons haven’t been the greatest, it is going to be weird not having it on Thursday nights anymore. It really will be. This is a show I’ve watched every week (not counting repeats/summer) for the past eight years. And a lot has happened in my life over the past 8 years, and The Office was part of my weekly routine. But, as the show (especially the finale) has taught viewers again and again, life changes and we move on. As will the television move on without this modern classic.
Good-bye, The Office!