The Office (2005)

A perfect caricature of the average workplace and origami-synergized panegyric to normalcy w. encyclopedic comedy references, unparalleled rewatch value, multi-layered genre blending, and best character-cast in TV history, The Office (U.S.) flips 9-5 desperation into a cloud-nine eden of jocularity: Comedy’s [& Perhaps: TV’s] Greatest Of All-Time. 10/10.

Plot Synopsis: Dunder Mifflin is a paper company based in Scranton, PA. Based on the British show, The Office follows the inner happenings of this average workplace environment, from characters like the boss-who-must-be-popular Michael (Steve Carell), the likeable every-man Jim (John Krasinski), receptionist Pam (Jenna Fischer), the hungry temp Ryan (BJ Novak), and bizarre coworker Dwight (Rainn Wilson).

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

S1 – 7.1/10 / S2 – 9.8/10 / S3 – 10/10 / S4 – 9.7/10 / S5 – 9.2/10 /

S6 – 8.7/10 / S7 – 8.5/10 / S8 – 6/10 / S9 – 7.9/10

CLC’s Best #TheOffice Episodes: 1. The Dundies, 2. A Benihana Christmas, 3. Fun Run (Pts. 1-2), 4. Dinner Party, 5. Stress Relief (Pts. 1-2), 6. The Merger, 7. Finale (Pts. 1-2), 8. Gay Witch Hunt, 9. The Michael Scott Paper Company, 10. Safety Training, 11. Office Olympics, 12. The Client, 13., 14. Goodbye Toby, 15. Product Recall, 16. Launch Party (Pts 1-2), 17. The Deposition, 18. Threat Level Midnight, 19. Scott’s Tots, 20. Branch Wars

Full, More In-Depth Rewrite Coming Soon; Old Version From 2017 Below

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

One Of The Greatest TV Series (& Perhaps *THE* Best Comedy Series) Ever Released

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. The Office might be the greatest comedy TV series (+ one of the greatest overall TV series) ever released. Since that fateful day Michael first called Jim into his office back in ’05 to help close that library sale, the series has captured the imaginations and hearts of millions of viewers even years after its final air date. It’s a pop culture phenomenon that’s taken over the world; an homage to origamic normalcy-turned-extroardinary; a workplace study so realistic you feel its characters could be your next door neighbors; a whirlwind of master-comedy so addictive people cycle through it time and time again without getting the least bit tired of it. Why is it able to do all these things; what’s the secret sauce? Balancing an inimitable array of genres, diverse storylines, and characters across its 200+-ep, 9-year portfolio elucidating the beauty of normalcy is no easy task – and what NBC has managed to accomplish here is – quite simply – one of the best TV shows ever made. The Greatest Comedy [& Perhaps: TV Show] Of All-Time, The Office (U.S.) is a perfectly-aestheticized caricature of the average workplace and origami-synergized panegyric to normalcy by a paper company’s lens: one that excels past its award-winning U.K. predecessor on every level – from mythological proficiency in office-gag writing encyclopedically-referencing the comprehensive history, techniques, and legends of comedy w. jazzy off-kilter mockumentary cerebral jokes sans the clichéd laugh-tracks to multi-layered genre-blends hyper-addictive to all types of viewers capsulizing everything we go to TV for to unparalleled rewatch value magic to the zenith character-cast in in the history of television, satirizing real-world archetypes led by a career-performance by Steve Carrell as its patriarch M.G.S. to depth of subversively-dark existential themes hidden beneath a superficial, candy-coated N.E. exterior façade: twisting the most boring, cold, nightmarishly-feared place where dreams go to die and we spend lives fantasizing to get away from in suburban 9-5 cubicle office desperation.. to a cloud-nine, edenlike, magnetizing kingdom of bliss and jocularity we happily run towards, and don’t want to leave.

The Best Character Canvas On TV

Led By Steve Carell’s Masterpiece, Charismatic, Comical, Insecure, Energy Lead: Michael Scott

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

First, the characters: The Office (U.S.) has the greatest character cast in TV history. A wildly-diverse, trope-fitting, workplace-caricaturic one, the characters may be fictional – but are so authentic and brilliantly-scripted, they feel like real-life people and a family you know.. and it’s impossible to not to recognize most-if-not-all of them in your real-life coworkers/friends. From lovable Falstaffian Kevin (personal favorite) to downright weird assistant (to the) regional manager Dwight to suave every-man Jim to the girl-next-door(/desk) Pam to sassy black man Stanley to mama bear Phyllis to eeyore-y Toby to old and senile Creed to hypocritical-Christian Angela to privileged trust-fund brat Andy to silly Kelly to hungry-temp Ryan to Republican senator embroiled in a gay affair while preaching family values Lipton to others like Gabe, Erin, and Daryl, I dare anyone to find a better casted and blended character swarm – supported by top-notch performances and characterization/writing with each member getting multiple focused arcs to make them feel like a veritable part of the family by series’ end. They, of course, all bow to the godlike patriarch of the series – and one of the greatest performances in the history of comedy: Steve Carell’s Michael Gary Scott. Equally-brilliant as a complement to Gervais’ mythic David Brent, Carell’s comedy is on another-level – while the antithesis after his shaky S1-start to become a childlike ball of warm/fuzzy personality skilled enough as an actor to deliver the most ridiculous of lines with a straight-face, and countless characters/personas: from Prison Mike to Michael Klump to Santa Bond to Blind Guy McSqueezy to Ping.

The Juxtaposition Of Genres

Workplace Comedy, Romance, Buddy Cop, Crime Series, & Documentary Analysis: ‘Why Watch Many Shows When One Show Do Trick?’

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What separates – by Grand Canyon-margins – The Office U.S. from the U.K. version is that there is immaculate support from every single character outside its regional managerial star, with every side-character equally as compelling and finely-acted in Scranton than the forgettable and fast-forward-requiscent personality-less husks of Slough. Never before have I gotten so attached and comfortable with characters in a series as in The Office and that is a testament to the dazzling skill of the screenwriters, showrunners, and casters together sculpting such an inimitable triweave of cast many have tried, but few – if any – shows have managed to successfully copy. There’s no laugh-track, no soundtrack of any kind, no gimmicks beyond the boxy rooms of its office buildings: none of the escapist luxuries or gimmicks to distract or take even a second’s notice away from characterization and mockumentary screenwriting populating every frame of every episode of every season of the show. The amount of genres juggled episode-to-episode is equally as impressive a feat and what sets The Office into the stratosphere far above its competitors/kin. As Kevin might say, “why watch many show when one show do trick?” From its main genre of workplace comedy with incredibly-inventive office gags (Asian Jim, Casino Night Telepathy, the Jello stapler, Office Olympics, Forehead Stares, Bears/Beets/Battlestar Galactica, etc.) to romance with one of the greatest fairytale courtships in TV history in Jim and Pam also adorned with some other interesting ones like Kelly/Ryan and Michael/Jan.

A Love-Letter To The History Of Comedy

The Quotability & Comedic Shenanigans Encompass Every Decade, Subgenre, & Reference Imaginable For The Ultimate Canvas Of All-Time: The Genre That Makes Us Laugh

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Also present are buddy-cop shenanigans in both Michael/Dwight and Jim/Dwight to crime series in The Scranton Strangler (convincingly proven to be Dunder Mifflin’s own HR Rep upon careful rewatch!) to a game-changing mini-interview-vignettes/edited documentary style, it is absolutely stunning how they were able to juxtaposed so many types and subgenres of TV into one overall product that can satisfy really any viewer regardless of taste/desire. The Office is a love-letter to the history and genre of comedy: references from films like Rush Hour and Airplane! to stand-up comics like Steve Martin and Chris Rock, the series takes the most ridiculous and farcical comedy, and masterfully frames it in a satirical, wryly-comedic, and universally-tangible jacket for extreme relatability and entertainment value. There is intellect in the comedy too: the series is a farcical satire/spoof referential of a wide variety of TV series, genres, and real-life situations milked for every droplet of laughter out of the premise, from the American household in Dinner Party to Nature Survival TV in Survivor Man to legal dramas in The Deposition to sport/triumph-of-the-human-spirit films in Fun Run to gender dynamics in Money to crime dramas in Drug Testing to sports in Fun Run. There’s physical comedy and slapstick too; a canvas of every type of comedy imaginable under one roof and seamlessly-blended into a mixture it’s easy to gulp down by the gallons. I have watched The Office I don’t even know how many times over the years, and still find just as much unbridled enjoyment out of the process as I did the first time – the show’s biggest miracle of achievement: rewatch value.

The Rewatch Value

A Special Testament Of Scripting Prowess Beyond That I’ve Seen In Any Other Series

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Finally, the rewatch value. The ultimate exemplification of cinema – and most things in life too – is one thing: the test of time. How do things hold up when they get copied or shamelessly ripped off? Can it still provide the same thrills years, decades, or centuries later in completely-different societal settings and atmospheres? What is The Office’s ultimate display of quality and magnificence of one-of-a-kind palpable/universally-bingeable tonal blend is something I’ve rarely ever seen in a TV series: rewatchability. It’s no secret that TV series are *LONG*, in this case 200+ episodes at 23 minutes a pop for a whopping 75+ hours of content as opposed to 1-2 hours for a film oftentimes preferred by critics like me and many others to even getting into TV series. How can a series set in the most mundane and universal setting we can’t wait to punch out of everyday: 9-5 office jobs be made into something we can’t get enough of watching? That’s brilliant screenwriting and perhaps the ultimate proof of characterization/magic – one the setting would’ve broken by shedding inescapable spotlight on if anything less than a masterpiece set of intangibles which The Office has.

The Art Of Uncomfortable

A Correction Of Every. Single. Flaw. Of The Messy (Ricky Gervais-Wasting) U.K. Version

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But here, that ridiculous prospect is somehow inconsequential, many even finding more joy upon rewatches to notice little details and track characters throughout the 9-season journey to see it in ways they’d never considered before. I’ve actually never seen in another show so masterfully hold up to even double-digit rewatches, with its brilliant signature cocktail of ingredients outlined above for a smooth binge every time and fans not even getting remotely tired by it – says about all you need to know about the craftsmen that molded such a beautiful product all network execs need to study like textbooks. The only two conceivable problems with the series are one vexatious character in Nellie and a shaky start/finish. One of our least favorite characters ever being an off-putting, pointless, pretentious, nagging, job-stealing, grating character, as well as, ironically: British, echoing its character failures, Nellie is the one rough amongst a neverending sea of diamonds – thus passable. The series takes a bit to get going from S2-on and ill-advisedly tried to go S8-9 without its patriarch in Michael, but there is no show that does not have one or two bad seasons – and it has at least a 100-episode run of flawless masterpieces of comedy episodes from S2-7 easily making inevitable speed-bumps passable.

The Definitive Workplace Comedy

One Of The Greatest Casts, Leads, Existential Purposes, & Series In TV & American History

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Its wholly-overlookable 1-2 gripes matter little in the grand scheme of things, especially considered by its comparatively-meek rough-sketch U.K. predecessor lacking the vibrancy, energy, precision, cast, delivery, and scale here. There has never been such a diverse and thoroughly-entertaining comedy series as The Office (U.S.) – and isn’t likely to be again for a few centuries. Though the only badge-of-approval the 5x-Emmy winner really needs is how limitlessly-rewatchable it is for millions of Dunder Mifflinites, there comedy is the most complete package I’ve ever witnessed on television, brought to life by a once-in-a-lifetime meld of characterization, performances, and screenwriting. The Greatest Comedy [& Perhaps: TV Show] Of All-Time, The Office (U.S.) is a perfectly-aestheticized caricature of the average workplace and origami-synergized panegyric to normalcy by a paper company’s lens: one that excels past its award-winning U.K. predecessor on every level – from mythological proficiency in office-gag writing encyclopedically-referencing the comprehensive history, techniques, and legends of comedy w. jazzy off-kilter mockumentary cerebral jokes sans the clichéd laugh-tracks to multi-layered genre-blends hyper-addictive to all types of viewers capsulizing everything we go to TV for to unparalleled rewatch value magic to the zenith character-cast in in the history of television, satirizing real-world archetypes led by a career-performance by Steve Carrell as its patriarch M.G.S. to depth of subversively-dark existential themes hidden beneath a superficial, candy-coated N.E. exterior façade: twisting the most boring, cold, nightmarishly-feared place where dreams go to die and we spend lives fantasizing to get away from in suburban 9-5 cubicle office desperation.. to a cloud-nine, edenlike, magnetizing kingdom of bliss and jocularity we happily run towards, and don’t want to leave.

Season-By-Season Reviews:

Season 1

A Passable, But Chaotic, Remake With A Better Cast & Tone Ironically Held Back By Its Later-Greatest Triumph: Michael Gary Scott

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 1 – The introductory season to the legendary series, though with glimpses of the potential and brilliance it’d eventually get to through trial-and error, is unbalanced and often messy in execution/forced comedy (diversity-day anyone? yikes). It recreates many of the U.K. version’s Season 1 gags and plot-points, often outdoing them through improved line delivery and cleaner comedic timing as a polished correction – although I wish it had forged its own path a bit sooner. It effectively builds the foundation/framework of the series – introducing us to its caricaturic premise and a *phenomenal* character cast from Jim to Pam to Dwight that blow their British counterparts out of the water from their very first line. There is an endearing innocence and normalcy with just a hint of melancholy about it, echoed in its now-iconic alt-rock refrain by Jay Ferguson and The Scrantones as well as some nice arcs in its own right like the basketball game, healthcare plan, purse-girl, and a mega-boost in office-pranks. The biggest problem of S1, in the most unimaginable twist of irony I’ve ever seen in TV history, is what would become the series’ greatest achievement later-on: Michael Gary Scott. Greasy, hyper-manic, and sporting a bizarre hairline to boot, Steve Carell’s MGS in S1 is an absolute conundrum – one that pales in comparison to Gervais’ legendary David Brent and feels like a jittery coke addict in need of tranquilization or a straight-jacket. A cameo in big-comedic films like Bruce Almighty and the once-in-an-era Anchorman, his shaky ineptitude here is positively mind-boggling and one that gives me a headache just thinking about writing this – and, while it feels sacrilegious to call Michael Scott anything but greatness, he is the achilles heel of The Office S1. Thank the NBC gods we got an S1; you’re really going to want to start with S2. 7.1/10.

Season 2

A Near-Flawless Display Of TV & Comedy Impressively Correcting Almost Every S1 Flaw

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 2 – A near-flawless display of television as well as one that rocked comedic TV history, S2 is where The Office (U.S.) diverged from – and blew out of the water – its U.K. counterpart. From its very opening second, the series is blasted with light, crisp (expensive-feeling) cinematography, and vibrancy – not only visually but also comedically and character-developmentally foremost in the instantaneous hyper-evolution of its savior: Michael Gary Scott. Cleaner, leaner, polished, and dramatically more-refined/reigned-in than his chaotic/manic S1-counterpart, this was the beginning of a beautiful dynasty of American workplace comedy achieved by the bold yet brilliant decision to no longer copy/replicate The U.K. Version and pave its own path. S2 masterfully fine-tunes its construction, precision, screenwriting, and gags for a brilliant, brighter, tonally-pure showcase of sitcom-glory that deserves unfathomable praise for how instantaneously it was able to flip the switch and self-analyze and listen to fans/critics to diagnose/cure ~every single one of your show’s problems. Perfectly-balanced, casted, & scripted characters begin to take shape – holding each their own down to even the peripheral faces of Kevin and Creed all the way up to Dwight’s magnetic bizarrity to the series’ breathtaking romance escalation of Jim and Pam from friends-to-star-crossed-lovers with a beautiful arc cascading to a stunning finale cliffhanger for maximum addictiveness and momentum going into S3. This is alongside side-splitting office hi-jinx and too many All-Time Classic comedy-TV episodes to count – like Casino Night, Drug Testing, The Client, Sexual Harassment, The Fire, and CLC’s vote for the greatest episode in The Office-history (and one of the greatest TV episodes ever for how instantly it hyper-evolved a mixed-to-bad precursor season into a comedy masterclass): The Dundies. The season is like crack – or better yet, the joint Dwight was so hilariously-obsessed with as (volunteer) sheriff’s deputy – and a hyper-addictive, smooth, bingeable masterclass of tonal television unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Only one minuscule flaw is to be nitpicked: a slight 2-3 episode lull around E12-14 that’s not as magnetic as the rest of the season but can be forgiven 100x over in the rest of the portfolio and achievement. S2 of The Office (U.S.) is, arguably, one of the greatest seasons of comedic TV ever scripted – and opened the flood-gates for not only the series’ dynastic reign, but a litany of modern copycats trying to sponge off the magic lightning-in-a-bottle it managed to captured against-all-odds here. 9.8/10.

Season 3

The Best Season Of The Office; The Boldest, Riskiest, & Most Classic Episode-Filled Dunder Mifflin Experience – w/ Even More Perfect Characters

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 3 – The best season of The Office, third time’s the charm for NBC and Daniels in this flawless masterwork of comedy, characterization, and screenwriting amongst the best seasons of comedic television ever made. Boasting powerful command over its comedic prowess being able to wield its skills & find laughs even in the (riskiest), most brazen and controversial-land mine topics from its Gay Witch Hunt-opener is no small achievement – only getting better and better as the season progresses into a tour-de-force of All-Time classic episodes too numerous & diverse to count from A Benihana Christmas to The Merger to The Coup to Business School to Branch Closing to The Convention to Safety Training to Ben Franklin.. not to mention mythic pranks/sequences like Crentist, Prison Mike, Future Dwight, and the series-defining Bears/Beets/Battlestar Galactica). S3 finds gold in its back-to-basics self-analysis perfecting its tonal mix of innocent and thoroughly-watchable wackiness/gentility, while also reaching peak character portfolio – boasting such a miraculous, surgical understanding of its richly-scripted characters, it’s able to innovate, expand, and wildly shake-up its roster for maximum entertainment value. Moving perhaps its two most-beloved characters in Jim and Dwight (as well as Oscar) around like chess-pieces across the 23-episode board is high-stakes brilliance that opens up limitless new doors and visions – as well as proves even further the show’s greatest achievement in perfect characterization/casting creating an entirely-new secondary office with even more incredible characters: the gorgeous power-suited Karen (making for a complex love-triangle and phenomenal romance-arc) and Ed Helms’ star-making, Cornell-braggadocios, wealth-satirical acapella-bro Andy Bernard. The biggest validation of how much infinitely-better the U.S. version of The Office is than the U.K. version is clear to see in S3: how they handled the same overarching storyline in the closing and merger between the two branches of Wernham-Hogg/Dunder Mifflin – in one version, so inexorably-boring and support-nonexistent that they were cancelled a mere two episodes after their second season painfully screeched to a close, and in the other solidifying a dynasty of comedic gold for years to come: I’ll let you figure out which is which by season-count. Maintaining S2’s craftsman brilliance and top-notch comedic writing/character development while even somehow even one-upping its own previous-perfection while correcting its predecessor shaky handling of the same storyline, S3 is the summit of comedic-TV Mount Everest – delivering a masterpiece collection of 23 episodes for the ages. 10/10.

Season 4

A Masterclass In The Art Of Uncomfortable & Analysis Of Typical American Life Brimming With Energy/Whim From Its Opening Fun Run

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 4 – Starting impressively-quickpaced getting right into the ridiculous hijinx seconds-in Michael hitting Meredith with his car leading to the organization of a Fun Run race for a (cured-disease) cure, The Office is back and better than ever. Increasingly taking the action away from the office park in a refreshing innovation effort never getting too complacent or settling in its throne, S4 is yet another exemplar hallmark of TV showrunners being at the top of their game. The ability to go from traditional 20-minute sitcom length to 40+-minute two-parters as a comedy series and still not lose even an ounce of entertainment-value is quite-simply an unparalleled feat of screenwriting that also gives the series exponential advancement/depth opportunities. This is where The Office gets intellectual, taking teases from past-seasons and going all in on the spoofs and analytical comedy to find laughs in the most socially-commentative of places, like the All-Time uncomfortable suburbia/American family-analytic Dinner Party, gender-dynamics of Money, legal-spoof The Deposition, and Nature TV Survivor Man. It never loses sight of what got it to this stage however, maintaining its massively-fun fan-servicing atmosphere/shenanigans with tons more classic episodes like Branch Wars, Launch Party, and Goodbye Toby with exciting new arcs both romantically in the Dwight/Angela/Andy triangle, Pam and Jim (FINALLY) getting together, and of course – Michael and Jan, plus professionally moving Temp Ryan to NYC Corporate and all the chaos that invites with Kelly on the homefront. Besides Jan becoming a bit of a nuisance and overbearing, The Office S4 maintains the series’ Renaissance in a trilogy of some of the greatest comedy seasons in TV history boasting surgical comic self-awareness for brilliance in American workplace-caricaturing. 9.7/10.

Season 5

The Michael Scott Paper Company, Michael Klump, Kevin’s Chili, & Masterpiece Stress Relief – Despite A Few Speed-Bumps

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 5 – Despite a few speed-bumps in the bizarre weight-loss opening, two All-Time series lows like Baby Shower and Employee Transfer, and infuriating Angela-affair arc highlighting the meanest character in The Office’s worst, S5 hits a ‘britney bitch’ rip-roaring stride in what might be one of the best back-halfs of the series – and TV history. Developing strong new characters in eventual-staple breath-of-fresh-air new-receptionist Erin and female Michael Scott-Holly, prismatic in character-development for all of its cast, and one-upping its quotability and wackiness with classic lines sprinkled throughout its phenomenal directional arcs/storylines like the Michael Scott Paper Company (perhaps *the* most entertaining arc in Office history masterfully spoofing the start-up world in an only MGS-way), The Surplus, Kevin’s (famous) Chili, Prince Family Paper, Gene Wilder-Wonka proud Golden Ticket, and Michael Klump. That’s not even including the *sacred* Stress Relief Pts. 1-2: arguably the best episode of The Office containing its most famous and likely-greatest scenes: the fake fire scare exemplary and culminating of an entire apocalypse’s downfall-of-humanity in a mere few minutes in an office building and BeeGees-CPR training. Although not the exact same level/pedigree of S2-4 by its slow start and a few dud episodes, S5 is a spectacularly-funny season of comedy TV miles ahead of its competition – course-correcting midway to a magnificent back-half keeping the hits a’ rollin. 9.2/10.

Season 6

Where Things Start To Get Weird In Office Lore, But Easily Saved By Classic Episodes & Great Arcs – Especially Scott’s Tots, The Mom, & Niagara

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 6 – Where things start to get weird in the Office-verse, S6 is all-over-place in arcs. Bursting with energy from its season opener – arguably the best in series history after The Dundies and Fun Run – things weirdly devolve & dissolve into a mess early on, wholly-uncharacteristic of the NBC-hit’s usual tight-as-a-drum writers’ room – somehow making Jim Halpert uncool and featuring two of The Office’s worst episodes in Mafia and Koi Pond. A yawning Sabre introduction siphons energy as well, with okay new characters in Gabe & Jo [that would become better with time], but these are mere speed-bumps to-be-expected after a ~100-episode run of pure greatness and flawless comedy – and I respect the continual innovation and vigor to try something new, take chances/character-risks, & push the envelope script-wise every season. There are plenty of great episodes like The Lover, Shareholder Meeting, Double Date, The Cover-Up, and Happy Hour, even more magnificent characters/gags by Steve Carell’s lifetime Michael Scott (Date Mike and Blind Guy McSqueezy, FTW!), and huge payoff in its Jim and Pam-arc that exposés the iconic romance into all-time great genre categories: the phenomenal Niagara fall-soaked wedding we’ve been waiting 6+ years for and Delivery. Oh, and – of course – the masterpiece of Scott’s Tots: one of the purposely-most uncomfortable/cringe watching experiences in the history of TV, even perhaps outdoing Dinner Party 10x make up for the series abject flaws and slightly-lower consistency-overall. 8.7/10.

Season 7

A Farewell Tour For M.G.S. That Beautifully Culminates The Patriarch Of The Show – & Fantastic [Cameo-Filled] Set-Up Full Of Possibilities

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 7 – A return to the clear-cut, focused storytelling implications of early seasons, S7 finds phenomenal endgame in Michael’s final arc – one so good, it could serve as a series-finale if one wanted to save the pain of watching S8-9. Matching the ridiculous, airy, innocent comedic stylings that made the series such a hit in the first place while upping the nostalgia factor, S7 finds a near-complete dilution of Sabre-isms, revamp of Gabe into a quirky/plucky presence, classic episodes like Threat Level Midnight, The Seminar, Classy Christmas Pts. 1-2, The Sting, and (one of the series’ best episodes masterfully spoofing the start-up & social media worlds), and fine character shake-ups in swanky newcomer Danny Cordray, Darryl thrust into the spotlight, and returning Holly to Scranton set the stage for the ultimate climax. The greatest character and performance in comedy [& perhaps: TV] history, Carrell’s Michael is the sole focus of the show again in S7 – given a brilliant and highly-emotional sendoff that ties up all out-standing arcs from the past 6 seasons beautifully, completing his character arc of wanting to always be the center of attention to false-leaving a day early so that he could get a closure-filled and intimate goodbye with each of his coworkers and the office (and fittingly: one final [off-mic] ‘that’s what she said’). Though I wish Michael had stayed til the end from a completeness perspective, I completely understand the decision to go out on top – and 7 seasons and 200+ episodes of comedy and TV greatness is a hell of a high-note to leave on. Beyond the magnificently-written and executed sendoff of MGS, the set-up for the new manager is fantastic: a slew of legendary cameos from the biggest heavy-hitters in comedy from Jim Carrey to Ray Romano to Will Arnett to James Spader to Warren Buffett to Ricky Gervais’ David Brent. We also get Creed as manager (FTW!), Dwight as an [acting] manager, and the only person who could’ve filled the shoes of Carrell’s Michael Scott: Will Ferrell.. although his character was a bit flatly-written and performance too toned-down [something more align with Elf would’ve been better] but not bad. Perhaps the worst season opening in The Office (somehow wasting a cameo by talented AHS-veteran Evan Peters) and a few chaotic episodes like Todd Packer & Andy’s Play are mere speed-bumps. Overall, S7 impressively finds the fortitude and classic screenwriting prowess to send its major character off brilliantly, while also doing a commendable job of setting up limitless possibilities/opportunities for a new manager. 8.5/10.

Season 8

A Lethargic, Bland, Superficially-Motivated Identity Crisis That Capitalizes On None Of The Exciting Opportunities Set Up By S7

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 8 – Feeling the gaping hole of Michael’s absence hopelessly sending S.O.S. calls for his (inimitable) show-carrying energy/presence, S8 is a lethargic/soulless identity crisis that wreaks of superficiality and corporatized intention. What was NBC thinking trying to keep this going without MGS, and for what purpose – two more seasons usually skipped by fans anyway while still not even reaching double-digit season count they desperately [I guess] wanted? While the series is still passable even here by any other workplace comedy-standards, reveals the strength of its character cast to even be able to survive without its patriarch, and is helped by the (ambivalent) intrigue of James Spader’s wildcard je-ne-sais-quoi bizarrity in Robert California and serviceable episodes led by The List and Pool Party (+ mixed storyline potential in the Florida and Dwight’s parental arcs deserving better execution), S8 is a slog that feels like a chore to get through. How could they think going with Andy [especially a watered-down/whitebread version of his S3-4 self] as the new manager to fill MGS’ shoes was a good idea.. when they had choices like Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey – whose starpower alone would’ve easily carried the show past the 10-season mark finely on sheer A-list celebification and novelty? And how could the screenwriters, after delivering a masterpiece of characterization and easily the best character-cast on TV for 7+ years beforehand, write a character like Nellie Bertrand: CLC’s vote for most aggravating/worst character on TV by pretentious, grating, pointless, self-important tastelessness. If there was ever a point of contention wherein U.K. Office fans could argue their show did it better on, it’s the fact that at least they knew when to call it quits and go out with a [decent] bang – although they only lasted like 15 episodes and 1.5 seasons comparatively and is worse in every other category. Every TV series has at least one bad season, so The Office does get a pass here – but watching S8’s like being a Pennsylvania-based paper-pusher.. in real life, and could’ve lowered the series’ legacy if continued like this. 6/10.

Season 9

A Course-Correction After The Disastrous S8 W/ Clever Documentary Angle & Emotional Finale – Tempered By Nellie & Jim/Pam’s Arc

Photograph Courtesy Of: NBC/Universal TV Studios

Season 9 – The final season of The Office course-corrects after the disastrous S8 unloading baggage like Sabre and lazy/complacent screenwriting with an influx of energy and nostalgia to reboot the system. The season still feels the ripple-effects of Michael’s absence keeping it from true original greatness, but.. it actually does very well without him: a testament to how great the show and its characters can be, when they want to. S9 skillfully wraps up with a bow almost all out-standing series story threads and questions, while brimming with resolute characterization and adding some new flair of its own. An energy infusion by a pacing boost and more quick cut-editing, two strong new characters in New Jim/Dwight whose performances are just as good as any of the main cast’s, resurgence of fantastic pranks like Asian Jim [legendary, perhaps the best prank in the show’s history], Stairmaggedon, and The Dunder Code, revitalized Andy even given a villainous Caribbean twinge amidst thoroughly-entertaining Erin/Pete romance and Stardom-Chasing arcs, great new characters in nostalgic-S1 Dwight/Jim-reminiscent Clark and Pete, fleshed out side plots we wanted to see like Toby & the (framed.. by him) Strangler + Senator-Affair & Schrutian customs, and absolutely-brilliant fourth-wall-breaking innovative social experiment angle play up the series’ docu-structure while giving it emotional resonance & intellectually-advanced analytical worth. For all its pros though, there are two major flaws: First, not only do they keep the worst character in show history in Nellie perplexingly and idiotically after Andy gets his job back and refuses to fire the person who almost ruined his life and stole his job, but she’s in damn near every frame. How dare they put such an indescribably-awful character [whom, despite plenty of attempts to soften and add humanization to her looks and characterization, still sucks] in the bullpen when every character in the annex would’ve been a better choice: to flaunt and have a character literally no one likes be forced upon us every scene. Finally, Brian and the Jim/Pam arc. Now, I applaud the screenwriters for the bold decision to shake-up the fairy tale and make its star romance more realistic [all couples fight and compromise on decisions for the family] while giving Jim and us an intriguing sports-themed Athlead arc, but they go way too far and near-ruin the show’s star-crossed lovers arc. Pam gets the brunt of the blame: what was once a quirky, timid, relatable receptionist and small-town girl has now been retconned into a hypocritical narcissist – having the audacity to throw temper-tantrums and threaten Jim with divorce and adultery with a pointless temptation-character in Brian undermining their relationship if he doesn’t give up his only dream to achieve something with his life and stay in a mediocre/underachieving life because she wants to. Jim’s done nothing but blindly support her constant failures over the years without question: Art School, Michael Scott Paper Co., Sales, etc.. and gave up relationships with infinitesimally-more beautiful women in Katy & Karen while staying in a job he hates (S1E3 – “If this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train”) for her, and she repays him by only finally giving her blessing when the business is a guaranteed success and sees Darryl balling out with a rich lifestyle she wants herself. Now, while these two flaws do siphon large parts of enjoyment out of the series in vexation, they are but few compared to how well it does everything else, impressively it delivers classic-Office quality without its patriarch, and wraps up everyone’s arc beautifully from Dwight to Jim convalescing into one of the All-Time great, tearjerking, closure-filled, incredibly-satisfying event-feeling series finales in modern TV history – a nice ending to our time at The Office. 7.9/10.

Official CLC Score: 10/10