The American version of “The Office” is coming to an end. And because a) I have yet to actually see an episode of “Copper,” a show I somehow can’t stop reading/hearing about and b) there is actually a category to the right that reads “The Office,” it goes without saying that this is probably something we should note. Yeah, everyone jumped ship on the show years ago, but we must be reminded that it’s still NBC’s most-watched program among people in the only age bracket that counts in network television — 18-49-year-olds.
The irony for me is that I actually wanted to aimlessly rant about the show, anyway — only recently did I finish watching the seventh season of it, and for my money, such was the single greatest run the American version has ever seen. Steve Carell’s exit was utterly tone-perfect, and for the first time since the “will they/won’t they” of Jim and Pam’s story finally boiled over, the show’s seventh set wasn’t all that frustrating to watch. Holly and Michael’s romance was without doubt one of the most fun romances ever seen on television, the Erin/Andy/Gabe story was charming in its own way and maybe most importantly, Ricky Gervais turned up not once, but twice as David Brent. Honestly — what more could you want?
But those accolades are now overshadowed by the announcement that it’s all going to come to an end next year. It’s not particularly surprising, considering how Dwight’s spin-off (over/under on amount of episodes it gets before being canceled sits at five this very minute) has seemingly been green-lit, and Mindy Kaling now has a desire to go be a star, baby, a star, with her own show on Fox. Also don’t discount the fact that there has been a tremendous boost in popularity for a big portion of the individual members of the cast, outside the confines of network television (Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have all been sought after for movie roles, with varying degrees of success, and even Creed Bratton was once profiled in Rolling Stone).
That said, the whole thing could have conceivably been a never-ending affair, as the show’s mastermind Greg Daniels told Entertainment Weekly this week …
“You could see a world where new people keep coming on the show,” Daniels told James Hibberd.“But I think (we want to) do justice to the existing characters in the most creative and explosive way and that means the show will be changed to such a degree that if anything was to continue it wouldn’t be the same show.”
I’ll admit that I’ve never been the biggest fan of the U.S. version of the show (and “never” includes even when many argue it hit its peak years ago). In my silly, little narrow-minded head, there’s just no way anyone could ever top the brilliance of the original version. But even with that said, the notion that this whole thing is going to get a proper goodbye is quite intriguing. Part of what made the seventh season so great, I thought, was its looseness. The writers finally accepted that it had recently become the butt of a lot of mean jokes and nasty comments, and for the first time in years, the show somehow began to feel fresh again as Carell’s departure added a boost to the program’s creative appeal.
As for how the people behind it might end the whole thing, Kelly West over at Cinema Blend offered up some fairly interesting (see: spoiler-laden) speculations earlier this week. One of the big things even Daniels has discussed is the notion that we will finally get to see who is recording the “documentary” and why they are doing it (side — has anyone else ever wondered the same thing about “Modern Family?” It’s like they film it in a documentary style for the sake of it being filmed in a documentary style. Blasphemy, I say. Blasphemy!). Why such a thing even matters is beyond me. The British version of the show very cleverly addressed this in a vague way with its Christmas special, though considering we are nearly 10 seasons into this go-around, the whole “documentary” element has nearly become moot, but I digress.
The most important aspect of all this? NBC’s Thursday night lineup is going to need to make an appointment at the plastic surgeon to clean up this makeover. “30 Rock” is gone. “Community” lives its life wondering if it will live to see another day. The network can’t seem to find a single show to confidently take up that 10 p.m. time slot (what’s up, “The Marriage Ref!”). And now “The Office” goes kaput. Is it the right time? Of course it is — with the exception of “The Sopranos,” great shows usually go five or six seasons before being downgraded to just “really good.” But will the show that single-handedly brought the idea of a mockumentary into the mainstream of America even be missed at this point? It should, but conventional wisdom suggests otherwise.
“I’ll admit, though I consider myself to be an ‘Office’ fan, I’m not especially disappointed by the news that the series is ending,” West wrote with her predictions. “I continue to count myself among the faithful viewers, but it’s difficult to look back at the series’ earlier seasons and not see just how fantastic the comedy was in the first half of its run, especially by comparison to where it is now. That said, I’ve never stopped watching, and I know I’m going to miss the show when it’s off the air. But all good things must come to an end, and that includes ‘The Office.’ The most important thing is that the writers know the series is ending, so they have a whole season to set up and deliver a conclusion that will hopefully live up to the standards set by the comedy series in the prime of its run.”
Most important, indeed. Here’s hoping to a final season worth remembering. You’ve set yourselves up well, “Office” people. Now, go ahead and try to preemptively make up for how awful “The Farm” promises to be.