Published on May 17th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
‘The Office’ Series Finale: Our Take
Last night, I sat down to watch the final episode of The Office–not entirely sure of what to expect. For the past few seasons, the show had been spinning its wheels and drifting light-years from its original concept of workplace realism. Regardless, I think the show will be remembered as a show that, following the footsteps of Arrested Development and its own BBC counterpart, reinvented network television comedy.
It’s always sad to say goodbye to a series that you’ve been watching for almost ten years–especially when it features genuinely likable characters like The Office. When NBC aired the Seinfeld finale before the turn of the millennium, we hated to lose the quotable moments and timeless situations but let’s face it, the central characters were all assholes–not the case with this series. The personalities of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch were a group of characters that anyone would love to work with, especially since they seemed to get absolutely nothing done in an 8-hour day (or in Kevin’s case, a 7 hr. 45 min. day).
The show’s series finale was set one year following the airing of the PBS documentary that served as the basis of The Office. Some are still plugging away in the paper business, others have been fired by new manager Dwight Schrute in one final conference room scene, and some have left Scranton completely. As is typical in a final episode, the writers must find a semi-organic way to get all the old characters back together for one last hurrah–in this case Dwight & Angela’s wedding.
One thing that bothered me about The Office‘s final season was the constant use of clips from the show’s history, especially Jim & Pam’s relationship. It felt like every week was a highlight reel of the same five or six kisses from the previous eight years–in the process making Pam look like an ungrateful, ignorant jerk.
I won’t blow it for anyone who didn’t tune in but honestly, this finale didn’t feature many big surprises. Mostly, Greg Daniels’s screenplay was concerned with tying everyone’s storylines up in a neat package. Everyone has a teary-eyed moment in the show’s final episode. Even Creed picks up an acoustic guitar and lets loose a sentimental song as the characters sit around together one final time, which felt redundant since Andy had just done the exact same thing two weeks prior.
Some forgotten faces make a return, including Ryan and Kelly (who make-out one more time), Bob Vance, even Eric Wareheim’s Gabor is spotted in the background during the wedding scene! Of course, the biggest surprise/return of the episode was Steve Carrel’s legendary Michael Scott, who serves as Dwight’s best man. Carrel’s cameo is very short and only features two lines of dialogue–it’s obvious that he was thrown in as fan service, with the writers wisely not wanting his appearance to overshadow the rest of the episode.
…but damn, it was awesome to see him.
Wrapping up a beloved, long-running TV series is almost impossible to do well. Most of the time, it comes off as forced, clunky, and insincere. While The Office didn’t blow me away with its last episode, it still felt genuine when the actor’s showed some heart–especially the Nard Dog, who just about got me misty when he talked about the “good old days”. This show may have stuck around for too long and certainly seemed to lose its compass in the wake of Carell’s departure, but when you’ve got characters this good, you always hate to see them go.