Thursday, May 16, 2013

Remembering "The Office"

"The Office" series finale airs tonight and I'm starting to get nostalgic.

Sure the past two seasons have been an embarrassing nightmare (I gave up early in Season 8 and haven't watched most of Season 9 until the last few eps), but we can't forget that for a few minutes in time, it was the best show on television and one of the all-time greats.

I caught on to "Friends" and "Frasier" later in their runs, but "The Office" was the first of my favorite shows that I watched the first episode live.

I just sat there thinking, "They made this for ME."

It was so quiet. So subtle. So painful. So awkward.

It was... an office.

How zany and cartoony it got over the years was my biggest problem with the decline of the series because it was the antithesis of why - and I'm guessing, so many other people - fell in love with it in the first place.

Before they lost their collective minds, the co-workers were stranded on this deserted corporate island, just trying to survive together and that's what made it work... then again, in hindsight, maybe it's why they all lost their minds.

I also appreciated the show because it served as a connecting point for me and my dad. Our tastes in entertainment have changed over the years but "The Office" always brought us together on Thursday nights. Pops visited us over the weekend and we got to watch last week's ep together (which I had recorded on the DVR) and it took me back to a special place. Made me realize how much I missed that time. And him. And what that show had meant to us.

To remember the good times, here are my personal Top 10 favorite episodes of the series. It was a legit difficult task to get down to just 10, but at the end of the day, these were all no-brainers for me.

What about you? What were your favorite eps?

10. The Convict (Season 3) – Prison Mike. Andy singing The Rainbow Connection (in Pig Latin, no less) to Pam on his banjo.

9. Goodbye Toby (Season 4) – Michael’s unbridled happiness at Toby leaving (He gives Toby a rock with the words “Suck on this” written on a Post-It note strapped around it). The trainwreck that was Ryan working for corporate was finally mercy killed. Michael meets Holly.

8. Dinner Party (Season 4) – This was the return ep after the 5 month writer’s strike back in 2007-08. It was almost as if they had been saving up all the uncomfortable crazy they could and it eventually exploded in the form of this episode.

7. Christmas Party (Season 2) – This episode gave us one of the greatest punch lines ever uttered on any sitcom of all time: “So what line of work are you in, Bob?”
6. Michael’s Last Dundies (Season 7) – “Nine million nine hundred eighty six thousand minutes. That’s how many minutes you’ve worked here.”

5. Niagra (Season 6) – Before Parks & Rec, The Office was the first great show at handling typical sitcom clich├ęd disasters like weddings. I remember thinking in the moment that this episode could have been the series finale and I would have been ok with it.

4. Casino Night (Season 2) – This ep established The Office as masters of the season finale. Jim professed his love to Pam and they finally kissed.

3. The Job (Season 3) – The greatest season finale of any show ever and also closed out one of the best seasons in network television history. The stakes were high and I remember having NO idea who was going to get the job at corporate. Jim finally asked Pam out on a date and Ryan takes the gig in the closing tag. My jaw was on the floor all summer.

2. Diversity Day (Season 1) – Maybe the best episode on a technical level of the whole series. The Chris Rock routine, “Oh man, am I woman??”, and “Diversity Tomorrow, because today is almost over.”

1. Sexual Harassment (Season 2) – The 2nd episode of the 2nd season and the episode I will always remember as the moment "The Office" really started firing on all cylinders every week. The episode featured
my favorite moment from the entire run of the series. Regardless of content, the moment is perfectly played by Michael (Carrell), Jim (Krasinksi), and Todd Packer (Koechner). Here are the ingredients: 1. Michael’s over the top, petulant retirement from “comedy”, 2. Jim baiting him, 3. Michael’s mind boiling at the opportunity, 4. Packer nudging him with a wry smile, 5. Michael’s explosion of “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID”, 6. Jim's satisfaction. 7. Michael’s genuine pride with himself.