The Office will makes its final copy next May, as NBC confirmed yesterday that the sitcom will come to an end following its ninth season.
Is it about time to close up the Dunder Mifflin shop? Absolutely. The series has devolved from awkwardly funny to just plain awkward over the last couple years.
But will it, and should it, still go down as one of the best comedies of this era? Oh yes. In this special edition of the TV Fanatic Round Table, Matt Richenthal, Dan Forcella and Steve Marsi prepare to say goodbye to Jim, Pam, practical jokes and pretzel day...
What is your favorite episode of The Office?
Matt: Michael Scott. Foot. George Foreman grill. The drive to the hospital and the waiting room scene on their own make the episode.
Dan: I don't re-watch the early seasons as much as I would like, so I will have to go with something recent. "Goodbye, Michael," last season's send off for Steve Carell, was equal parts charming and hilarious. There were tears shed and their were sides split. I haven't been that happy with an ending to an arc since Ryan Chappelle met his triumphant end in season three of 24.
Steve: Impossible question, but I'm going with the Season 4 finale, "Goodbye, Toby," because it was vintage Michael Scott from wire to wire. From his hilariously bitter parting gift to Toby to his over-the-top efforts to woo Holly and his priceless reaction to Jan's pregnancy, it's a shame Steve Carell couldn't win more than one Emmy for this hour. The episode also featured Ryan's arrest on Youtube, Angela accepting Andy's marriage proposal and sleeping with Dwight in the span of an hour, and Kevin - who Holly erroneously believed to be mentally challenged - proclaiming he was "totally gonna bang" her. I rest my case.
Should Steve Carell make a return at any point?
Matt: No. Dan said it perfectly above. Michael was given a perfect farewell. The show may have plummeted in quality since then, but the focus ought to remain on the characters that are still around, not a desperate attempt to recreate the past with a forced casting stunt.
Dan: Yes, but it should be audio only. Like I mentioned earlier, his final moments on The Office were so good that they shouldn't attempt to top it or even come close to that level. Michael should be enjoying himself with Holly and stay away from all of this. A phone call from Dwight asking for help in a decision to leave the business, or one from Pam and Jim doing something similar, would be a nice touch. Anything else might be overkill.
Steve: No way. Doing so would lessen how well Carell's exit was handled, not to mention drive home how much the show has gone downhill since.
How should it all end for Jim and Pam?
Matt: With Jim landing the job of his dreams: General Manager of the new Scranton professional football team! And Pam can design the uniforms and helmets! They quit the company and head over for a meeting with the club owner, only to open the door and see... Dwight Schrute! Oh, yes, he wins the final prank war. Big time.
Dan: They should bring back Karen and Purse Girl (Amy Adams) and have a four-way polygamous relationship. Just kidding! As two of the only sane people on the show, it would be nice to see Jim and Pam have a happy ending. Maybe some exciting and new opportunity comes along for Jim, and Pam is able to go along with him and live out her dreams through art.
Steve: Jim and Pam have been the show's steadiest, sanest characters for eight years; expect them to end the series the same way. Through major life changes and the banality of Dunder Mifflin life, they've always had each other. A special, series-ending storyline would be nice, but isn't necessary to enhance the impact of these great characters.
Will you watch a Dwight Schrute spinoff?
Matt: No. Know when to say when, NBC. I know you are largely relying on a monkey to sell your new slate of comedic programming, but you can still do better than running Dwight into the ground. Case in point.
Dan: Only if there are bears, beets, and Battlestar Galactica.
Steve: I'll check it out once, but I'm not sure if the hilarity of Dwight's home life will have the same impact now that it's the sole focus. Sometimes less is more.
Who is your favorite all-time Office character?
Matt: Kevin Malone. His slow wit and immature humor somehow never grew old, and was used exceptionally well in one of the show's all-time best storylines: when Holly believed he was mentally handicapped.
Dan: If I'm being honest, it's Michael Scott. He's one of my favorite characters on any television show ever. But if I'm going to step out of the box, and pick a diamond in the rough, I'm going with Ryan Howard. Per minute of screen time, B.J. Novak definitely hit for the best average of laughs during his run on The Office.
Steve: Michael and Dwight are both all-time characters in TV comedy history, but aside from those obvious choices, I've always been a Creed fan. No one, with the possible exception of Ryan, can match this shady man's laughs-per-second of screen time ratio. His one scene per episode was often the highlight of my week.