Review: ‘The Office’ Finale

The Office Finale

For NBC and signature sitcom, this is one branch closure that came too late

SPOILER ALERT: If “The Office” finale is still waiting on your DVR, read no further.

“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things.”

That rather poetic observation came from Pam (Jenna Fischer) in what amounted to the parting thought delivered during “The Office” finale, and in the show’s heyday, that was certainly true. Driven by a touching romance and filled with amusing characters, it was NBC’s best comedy for a long stretch – not only consistently funny, but more human than something like “30 Rock.”

Still, the last few seasons pushed the show well past its expiration date – not because there was still a lot of gas in the tank, necessarily, but rather NBC had nothing else to pick up the slack. So “The Office” trudged on, enduring cast defections, desperate subplots and odd flourishes while the audience gradually slipped away.

Thursday’s sendoff essentially ignored that part of the equation, and it was awash in warmth and inside gags, including cameos by not just Greg Daniels (who developed the show for U.S. consumption) but also his wife Susanne, currently president of programming at MTV, who played the moderator at a panel for the fictional documentary within the show.

Of course, good intentions couldn’t entirely erase some of the creative missteps, and using a wedding as the device to close out the series seemed a little bit trite. Nevertheless, it was hard not to feel that old spirit rekindled when Steve Carell showed up in a perfectly orchestrated cameo and responded to the line “I can’t believe you came” with the inevitable “That’s what she said.” Ditto for Ryan (B.J. Novak) and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) abandoning a baby, no less – along with her too-good-to-be-true date – to run off with each other.

Frankly, I had my doubts about the series embracing the whole nine-years-to-make-a-documentary-series narrative thread – at a certain point, the format simply became another part of the show, easy enough to ignore – but Daniels (who wrote the finale, directed by Ken Kwapis) found a way to pay it off, giving the various characters a chance to reminisce. And if that represented a touch of overkill after the hourlong retrospective that kicked off the night, forgive NBC for treating the final vestige of its Thursday-night-comedy, “Must-See TV” imprimatur like sitcom royalty.

(As a footnote, the episode comes 15 years and a couple of days after the “Seinfeld” finale, which averaged more than 76 million viewers. Good times. (UPDATE: Based on Nielsen data, “The Office” averaged 5.7 million viewers, a bump over recent results and its biggest audience since January 2012, but hardly a major surge of interest.)

In that sense, seeing “The Office” tie up its loose ends couldn’t help but be a nostalgic, bittersweet experience for anyone who admired the show along the way. Because despite Pam’s closing note, at its best “The Office” was far from ordinary and, even if its most-rewarding days were in the rear-view mirror, deserved to finish on top.

That’s what he said.

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  1. Col Bat Guano says:

    The show lost it’s way when Greg Daniels and Mike Schur left for Parks and Rec before S6. S9 was a bit of an improvement with Daniels return. The finale had it’s moments, but was a bit flabby with a few tacked on happy endings, especially Andy’s.

  2. Eve says:

    Didn’t like the Finale at all. The overall tone was very self-congratulatory/emo/self-concious. Yuck. Too many loose ends wrapped up too neatly. Not at all nuanced, edgy, or true-to-character (except Creed and Kelly). Everyone just seemed like a cariacture of their character. Like they were all trying to showcase 9 seasons of their particular character in one show. Very disappointing.

  3. Janis says:

    Really good ending episode, yea I feel the emotions of the fans that it was a little to gratifying for each character, except Toby, lol, but the messages were pure and overall the core cast was mainly featured and was true and true with their demonstrated evolution, having Mike Scott make an appearance and be at the wedding was a bonus b/c no one thought he would ever do this. I disagree with most of the fan base that the show sucked over the past two years, season 9 should have been season 8 however, barring all that after 9 SEASONS season 8 was the only truly great let down. I really really enjoyed season 9, it was great ending season even w/out Steve Carrell. Ed Helms was at his best this year, the office will be missed for sure, now the only great show that I like that’s still left is Breaking Bad, but that’s about to end it too, D’oh!

  4. Emmanuel says:

    Enjoyed it the proper send off the show stayed true to its formula. It reminded me of a graduation. Where everyone is excited about there success but they also saddened by the end of the journey. The show also left you imagining the future and the laugh kept coming that’s what she said

  5. Anestacia says:

    I agree with Brittany. I’ve been a fan since the pilot and while I agree that it lasted a tad bit too long after Michael Scott left, I was happy with the ending. It was the perfect send-off for it’s hardcore fan base.

  6. Brett Dale says:

    Anyone who watched the final, wouldn’t done a review like that.

  7. Michael Scott should have been featured in the finale. He WAS The Office. The show lost its way when it forgot that. Supporting characters cannot be main characters.

    • Brittany Madison says:

      As mentioned elsewhere, Michael Scott got his time to say goodbye two seasons ago, this time it was about the rest of the cast. He had a couple perfect lines and honestly as someone who has been watching since the pilot, I was very happy with it.

    • Brett Dale says:

      He was in the finale.

  8. Boring ep, basically just continues the downward trend rather than any sort of season saving redemption.

    • Cindy says:

      I agree. The Office was done when Steve Carell left. The rest of the cast were not the stars, but played off Steve. His role should have been bigger in the finale. It was not a great finale, Seinfeld was better.

      • JRS says:

        I agree that it would have been better if Michale Scott was a bigger part of the finale, though I’m glad he was at least present. Him in the final scenes in the warehouse and upstairs would have been a better ending. They did well to downplay all the boring late additions to the cast. A decent ending for a show that I wished ended with Mike and Pam at that airport…

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