The Office Finale Review


rating: 4

A great man once said; €œeveryone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.€ That man was Michael Scott. After nine years of tears, laughter and reams of paper, The Office: An American Workplace takes it final bow with a concluding episode; simply titled €˜Finale€™. The Office has always lived by two rules; make €˜em laugh, and make €˜em care. Behind every instantly quotable one-liner came moments of solid human connections; these weren't just characters, these were friends. For the longest time Michael Scott was the emotional clown at the beating heart of Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. He was the idiotic patriarch who supplied the prism of perspective through which we viewed Jim, Pam, Dwight, Phyllis, Stanley, Oscar, Creed, Angela, Kevin, Meredith, Andy, Daryl, Erin€.oh yeah, and that douche Toby. When Michael left the show in Season 7, we as fans lost a key ingredient in the mix. Like a cheeseburger without the bacon, things tasted the same, but for two lingering seasons it just lacked that special flavour. It was quite clear by the end of Season 8 that The Office was quickly deteriorating, and was dangerously close to expiring without a proper burial. So when NBC optioned one final season, we knew that all roads led to here. It has been a long path. One full of joy and happy memories; with few potholes and wrong turns; amounting to what will ultimately be a scrapbook filled with richness and bittersweet nostalgia in the years to come. The end is here, and if I am totally honest, we are ready to say €œgoodbye€. But we do so with a pang, a steady stream running down our cheeks and a sorrowful smile on our face. The episode €˜Finale€™ is divided into two events. The first half picks up a year after the €˜documentary€™ first aired. Two characters have been fired by the new regional manager Dwight, and one has retired (all achieved through the harsh and hilarious medium of cake messages). Someone has moved to Poland (€œScranton of the EU€). Daryl is making it big with the newly renamed €˜Athleap€™, Oscar is running for state senate, Andy€™s crying episode on national TV has gone viral, and Creed is on the state Police€™s €˜Most Wanted€™ list. For everyone else, it is pretty much business as usual. With Dwight and Angela€™s wedding on the horizon, past and present Dunder Mifflin employees flock back to join the celebrations and go to the bachelor/bachelorette parties. Coincidentally, it is also the same weekend that PBS have organised a €˜where are they now€™-style follow-up special, complete with a Q&A session at the local meeting house. The episode starts strong, with some hefty jokes and a real sense that everyone involved is going to come out of this with their heads held high. Jim€™s responsibility as best man leads to a nice inversion of the established relationship between the two; with Jim committing to €˜Pranken€™ for the stag party. This is essentially a series of nice pranks; so no Asian Jim photos or future faxes this time. As the episode moves along, the jokes become more laboured. One particular scene sees a seemingly spaced out stripper get food orders fired at her from Dwight, in a scene that runs ways past its due. Angela€™s bachelorette party, however, holds some very amusing surprises; including a much funnier stripper scene that escalates to the point of tear inducing. When the wedding approaches mid-way through, we get treated to some diluted yet as-always delightful Schruteisms (grave marriage, bring your own hay, €˜sweet child of mine€™). From here on in, the humour becomes much more visual and more sparing, as the writers start to turn up the sentimentality and warmth we have come to see peppered throughout the show€™s DNA. A few surprises, a few re-treads of old tricks, and a bird statue of Phyllis later, we reach the second half of the episode. Things move to a Q&A session. This is an odd meta-like experience, with extras asking the characters of the show questions that fans would probably like to ask the actual actors. Most of the scene is dedicated to Jim and Pam, and focuses of their already over exposed €˜fights€™ that have dominated, and frankly dampened, most of this season. Erin gets her moment in the sun, and then we are thrown into another uncomfortably semi-real €˜wrap party€™ in the Dunder Mifflin warehouse. Some of the shows actual creators appear, presumably as themselves, and then all the major cast slink off to the office. These final moments with just the core cast, are possibly some of the most touching we have seen in the entirety of the show€™s run. Creed, in a moment of poetic lucidity, serenades with a song that is at once very unexpected and warming; like a bowl of soup on a cold wet day. Characters begin to sum up their experiences, and we get a real sense that at least a sprinkle of the red eyes and water stained tissues stem beyond acting. Hugs and retrospectives give us a real sense of what The Office has come to mean to us all. It is a fitting end, and a dignified epilogue to one of histories greatest comedy shows. If I had to eulogise The Office as it is laid to rest in the crypts of a TV graveyard, I would say something like this. This show came at a time when no one needed it. It arrived to cynicism and muted interested. But out of nothing, it has risen and risen, becoming a shining example of modern American television. We have accepted these characters as readily as family, and in the past 9 years the staff at Dunder Mifflin have attached themselves to us like a big comfy hug. They say life imitates art, and vice versa; one can only hope that we all get to experience life the way we have seen in The Office. To have a boss like a Michael Scott - what fun each day would be. To feel love the way Jim and Pam do, to see the world through Kevin€™s eyes. How wonderful to sit opposite Looney Tunes such as Creed and Dwight, and to converse with Stanley on pretzel day or Oscar during social-political outrage. We could all do without the pungent sternness of Angela, but her presence only serves to diversify the mix. In moments of despair, how lovely it would be to have the matriarchal love of Phyllis, or the eternal hope of Andy. How great our joy would be. But if all else fails and none of this comes to pass; at the very least we will always have The Office on DVD to come back to. A place were smiles are made. So thank you guys, we are sad to see you go. But now is right - we will always have the memories. Inside of us, we will always have a little piece of you€.that€™s what she said.
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Part critic-part film maker, I have been living and breathing film ever since seeing 'Superman' at the tender age of five. Never one to mince my words, I believe in the honest and emotional reaction to film, rather than being arty or self important just for cred. Despite this, you will always hear me say the same thing - "its all opinion, so watch it and make your own." Follow me @iamBradWilliams