‘The Office’ and how I learned to tolerate its Autumn years

Last Sunday I decided to go back to a show I swore off about a year ago. I swore it off because it, as I wrote last year, “jumped the shark.” That show would be “The Office,” a show that was brilliant for four and a half seasons before it began to grow old and tiresome.

My complaint then, and it still remains, is the show continued after showrunner Steve Carell left. His character, Michael Scott, was the glue holding this rag tag of paper pushers in Scranton, Pa. together. The show should have ended with the episode where Michael Scott leaves Dunder Mifflin. Beautiful episode, should have been the finale. But it wasn’t even the season’s finale. That’s how messed up that was.

I got halfway into the season that followed his departure. I tried watching it when it was airing. Couldn’t. I tried going back when it streamed on Netflix. Couldn’t. It felt sloppy and thrown together.

But on Sunday I was bored. I had exhausted my programs on Hulu Plus and one of my recommendations was “The Office.” So, I cooked a pizza, sat down and decided to pull through and finish season 8. I sort of guesstimated where I left off (I really didn’t care) and picked up right in the middle, shockingly close to where I left off.

So I came back with a fresh perspective. And for what it was, it wasn’t horrible. I found it odd that in season 8, Michael Scott is not really mentioned (not until the middle of season 9 I think his name is even said). I also started to enjoy the show without having the ghost of Scott hanging in my conscience. I guess something like that takes time.

The 8th season is not great, but it is not horrible either. It has its moments and I thought it picked up better than I remembered.

Then I started watching the current (and final season) and things began to get awkward again. We get interns who resemble a younger Jim and Dwight (kind of a lame move), a really awkward love triangle (two in fact) and it’s hard not to notice that cast members have jumped ship in between seasons 8 and 9.

What I did appreciate was the show’s “breaking the fourth wall.” For nine years, this paper company has supposedly been filmed by a documentary crew (a cool concept if it stuck to the BBC original with two seasons and a special) but to think that for nearly a decade this company would warrant such a documentary is unrealistic. “Parks and Recreation” avoided this by not acknowledging it’s a documentary, but when their characters speak to the camera, it can be perceived as almost inner-dialogue.

But we get to meet someone from the film crew. Unfortunately this lasts for more than one episode and creates one of the unnecessary love triangles a final season does not warrant.

And the decision not to go with the Dwight spin-off, “The Farm” was wise. The last episode I watched, also titled “The Farm,” really pushed this concept, and felt like a pilot within an episode. Dwight is good only in small doses, and his siblings we are introduced to are not that exciting. So this episode really feels awkward because it does feel like a pilot that fails before it left the ground.

There is also the fact that Andy (Ed Helms) was missing for a good chunk of the season. Since he was Scott’s replacement, it really feels awkward that he is on a boat in the Caribbean for whatever reason. This being the final season, the branch manager really ought to be around.

But I do like the story of Jim finally finding his calling and the friction that causes with him and Pam. He takes a job in Philadelphia, part time, for a company that deals with sports and athletes. His dream job, but his wife, Pam, wants to stay in Scranton. This is some of the show’s best writing in years. Since the start, we have rooted for Jim to achieve his dream of moving on and getting Pam. So it is nice to see that they are not necessarily working out together. Not nice, but I enjoy when shows do something we, the viewers, do not expect. I certainly did not expect this.

So I will play this out to the end. I’m a little more open minded with the post-Carell seasons, but the final season is shaping up and hopefully will end on a high note.

Avatar of Joe Froemming

About Joe Froemming

I'm a reporter/copy editor for the Bemidji Pioneer. Previously, I worked for the Worthington Daily Globe as a copy editor and before that, I had a brief stint as the Fine Arts Columnist for the St. Cloud Times. I was born and raised in St. Cloud, a graduate of St. Cloud State University and worked in record stores for 10 years before wandering into the world of journalism. I live in Bemidji with my wife Gina and our cat, Mac. All the papers and towns mentioned above are located in Minnesota.
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