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“The Office” will air its 200th and final episode, hourlong-style, on May 16, NBC announced today. Some will argue the show should already have long been gone, perhaps no group more than its original
diehard fans, but the final season has been mostly a good one.

I’ve been watching several “Office” reruns in the past few weeks, and it is amazing what a difference Steve Carell makes. No one can touch his energy or his ability to give a unique, devastatingly funny take on a line or gesture.

That being said, this season’s episodes have been above average compared with the rest of the television sitcom world.

I wouldn’t have necessarily have assumed this beforehand, but the show has benefited from the extended absence of Ed Helms, who more than anyone else was tasked with filling Carell’s shoes. Nothing against Helms as a performer, but his Andy Bernard came to be a kind of Michael Scott-lite, a character that couldn’t be quite as winning. Helms’ absence has given breathing room to the other characters.

Last year ended the show’s six-year streak of being nominated for a comedy series Emmy (it won in 2006). I wouldn’t predict a return in 2013, but I will argue that for a comedy in its ninth season, “The Office” has been better than most, including “All in the Family,” “Frasier,” “MASH” and “Cheers.”