With so many shows either on hiatus or having just wrapped up their most recent seasons, TV Fanatic is taking a look back... along with a slight look forward.
We've already handed out grades to 2 Broke Girls, Supernatural and Covert Affairs, among other shows. Now, critic Dan Forcella takes us through the highs and lows of the first half of the first season of The Office without Steve Carell...
Dwight and Jim were responsible for a lot of the laughs on The Office this fall, especially in "Garden Party."
Funniest Line: There are plenty of worthy nominations, but for me it's a tie between Nate's "You had me at clookies" and Dwight's "I'm gonna make you the buffest dude Val Kilmer has ever seen." What was your favorite quote of the first half of the season?
Best Prank: It has to be Jim writing a book entitled The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Garden Party for the sole purpose of Dwight buying the lone copy and following the book's crazy orders to the "t." It made for one heck of an episode, which brings us to...
Best Episode: "Garden Party" Dwight following along with all of James Trickington's chapters gave the episode brilliant focus, as well as a ton of laughs. The half hour also gave us Mose's valet stunt, Andy's family acting like jerks, and everyone else sucking up to Robert through multiple toasts.
Worst Episode: "Gettysburg" Like most of the problems with this season, this episode suffered from too much Andy Bernard. His trip to Gettysburg was good for only a few laughs, mostly coming from Gabe's Abraham Lincoln show, and back at the office, Robert continued to be a shell of the crazy character we met at the end of last season.
Worst Character: Andy Bernard. It's only half the character's fault. The other half goes to the decision of making Ed Helms the leading man on this show. That choice has turned a once funny and lovable nicknaming Cornell bro into an annoying and overdone singing homeless man's Michael Scott.
Best Character: Dwight Schrute. Thanks to a number of episodes focusing on the reinvigorated rivalry between Jim and Dwight, Mr. Schrute has gained steam over the course of this season, and been the source of much laughter. Whether it was the Val Kilmer bit referenced above, or his "It'll all be goat" line during "Garden Party," Rainn Wilson has been great this fall.
Most Interesting Development: Like Toby did at one point a couple seasons ago, Gabe has gone from a character I couldn't stand last year, do one I enjoy more often than not in late 2011. His Lincoln bit, the way he joined Dwight's gym without a hesitation, and his "Hey Andy, how about you don't steal my business strategies, and I won't dress like life is just one long brunch" have me enjoying Gabe so far.
Biggest Surprise: Stanley's "shove it up your butt" line. The man has had a few moments here and there, but nothing like this in the past. I did a spit take the first time I heard him utter these words.
Most Underutilized Character: Ryan Howard needs a billion minutes of more air time, like now. His deuchy attitude never gets old, so until it does, let's allow B.J. Novak to fill up our screen as much as possible.
Overall Grade: We're at about a B- thus far. There have still been a ton of funny moments over the course of these first 10 episodes, but The Office is still a shell of what it used to be. Less focus on Andy Bernard, continuing to highlight the Jim/Dwight dynamic, and more screen time for Ryan Howard will raise the grade this spring.
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.