Why ‘The Office’ really needs to close

22 05 2010

The OfficeThree weeks ago Steve Carrell announced that his contract on The Office is up after the 2010-2011 season. With 6 seasons of Michael Scott under his belt, he told BBC radio that it might be time to head home for good, shutting the doors on Dunder Mifflin and our favorite dysfunctional work family.

When I first heard the news I was devastated. We were fast approaching the final curtain of LOST (which is unfortunately now upon us) and I couldn’t fathom losing ANOTHER of my favorite shows. And with rumors that Friday Night Lights could possibly pull the plug -or rather, have the plug pulled on them – after next season, I’m looking at going from 4 must see TV shows down to 1 in very short order.

And then, I watched the past two week’s episodes – and I’ve come to the realization that another season is probably too much for my beloved The Office.

Lately it’s seemed much more contrived than normal. Many blame Carrell’s character – how often can he be an obnoxious boss? How many times can he do things that would have gotten him fired and have HR turn a blind eye? Sure, Michael Scott probably has a bit to do with it, but he’s not the only problem.

All of the actors have gotten complacent in their roles. Jim and Pam are adorable, but they’re Jim and Pam. We know what to expect of them and they deliver. Dwight is no longer shocking when he mentions his beet farm, cousin Mose, his weapons, or Angela. Toby just sort of mosey’s on through and everyone hates him. No one is new, no one is interesting – even the new characters – Erin is very one-dimensional and really annoying.

And in addition to the actors settling into their roles in a detrimental way, the writers don’t seem to be able to deliver a compelling story line. They’re leaving loose ends (radon testing?) and they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Now that Jim and Pam are married and had the baby we really have to focus on The Office, and there aren’t many more storylines we can get out of that.

Let’s take a closer look at the past two episodes.

The Chump – The Dunder Mifflin-ites find out that Michael hasn’t broken off his relationship with Donna, a married woman. The entire office drops everything to try to convince him that he’s being a horrible person with absolutely zero morals and he’s hurting Donna’s husband even though he doesn’t know him.

Best part of the episode? Ryan asking Erin out and then turning around because even he can’t be that cold. Worst part? Everything else. There was absolutely nothing compelling in this judgemental episode. Angela and Dwight hooking up? Yeah, we’ve been there, done that, it’s nothing new. Jim and Pam being tired parents? True to life, but too drawn out. Andy and Michael going to meet Donna’s husband? Really contrived. No one, not even Michael Scott and Andy Bernard, would do that.

Whistleblower – The story of Sabre’s flammable printers hits the news, so CEO Jo flies in to clean up the mess. Turns out, a number of Dunder Mifflinites leaked the story to members of the press.

Best part of the episode? Nick the IT guy saying goodbye and everyone hating him. Worst part of the episode? Nick the IT guy saying goodbye and everyone hating him. The only cohesive part of this entire episode where we actually saw The Office, Nick the IT guy’s goodbye had the makings of greatness. No one knowing his name was hilarious because it was kind of strange that he was ever introduced. It was as though the writers had a great idea for him but it never came to fruition. At the same time, everyone in The Office was horribly mean to the man. Obviously, he wasn’t important, but in years past the characters had a reason to be stand-offish to those they were stand-offish too. The writers should have just let Nick disappear on his own without making a big deal out of it.

Honestly, if you look at the facts, The Office hasn’t been up to snuff for quite some time. The wedding and birth episodes were cute, adorable, any number of adjectives, but they weren’t completely awesome, they just had awesome parts relating to Dwight and Kevin. Those were this season’s two big episodes and because we all anticipated them, we were happy when everything went right in Jim & Pam’s lives.

If we’re going to suffer through another season, however, I hope that we get back to more of a focus on the Office itself and less time on personal life. The Office was at its best when business took priority and the personal lives of the staff were interspersed with the every day responsibilities (or lack thereof) of a 9 to 5 job.

I still love the characters. I feel like I work with them every day in my own office. I just want to remember them at their best.

It might be time to try to transfer away from them so I can…