It’s been a long and, as of lately, uneven road for ‘The Office’. Fittingly, its series finale was largely representative of these recent struggles. But damn if it didn’t pay tribute to the show’s beauty and nuance over the last nine years.
Series finales are of course a tricky thing and rarely wholly satisfy the audience. Tonight, ‘The Office’ wisely forwent major plotting in order to give every character their fitting end. For some of the characters this was an excellent, touching service. Anger at how quickly they could dispose of Kevin turned to joy as they redeemed him with a new career. Stanley, Dwight and Oscar all got to pursue their dreams. As did Andy, in a strained yet fine redemption of a character that was practically decimated. (Though the viral star story seemed to broad and vague for the limited time it was given.) Pam finally makes it up to Jim after an elapsed period of time, though how she got to the point of being able to move on was pretty much glossed over.
On the other hand, certain character endings felt forced and unnecessary. Erin’s birth parents come ex machina to round out an aspect of her character I’m sure you forgot about. (Casting Ed Begley Jr and Joan Cusack was also distracting.) Though it was somewhat amusing, I didn’t need to see Ryan and Kelly go for it one more time — and mostly just felt bad for the kid that ended up with Nellie. Too much time was spent on these characters that were already long gone.
And then there’s Michael. Steve Carell’s cameo was one of the biggest things this finale got right. So right, in fact. From his two lines of dialogue (of course ‘that’s what she said’), to the brief glimpses into his current life. It was minor yet pitch perfect. It in no way ruined his last episode and only enhanced this finale. His final “That’s What She Said” may be the most memorable part of this episode.
The time jump, though not a misstep, seemed like a bit of backwards engineering to get to the wedding and the remaining characters to a place where they could move on. A parade of parties is nice when you want to see all the characters together at once, but it shined a light on the writers pulling the strings.
Addressing the documentary head on and having the characters discuss how it impacted their lives was superb though. It was the kind of interaction with the doc I wish they had been doing more of all season. Regardless, it brought things appropriately full circle and created some genuinely stirring, deeply emotional call backs and statements on what the series stood for. It all amounted to something.
Which is why I’m lamenting the fact that this series finale compared to the pantheon of great finales seemed devoid of that iconic moment. I’m referring to the one memorable image that most great finales have. Sam Malone shutting off the lights. Tony and his family at the diner. Chandler, Ross, Monica, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe all dropping off their keys on the counter. Where is ‘The Office’ finale’s memorable shot? Is it Pam taking the painting off the wall? Is it the reveal of the mural? (Which didn’t linger long enough in my opinion.) Or was it Michael appearing in the door way and saying ‘that’s what she said’? The feelings were all there definitely, but maybe ‘The Office’s iconic finale moment wasn’t in the finale. Maybe it was Michael taking off his mic and asking if the doc would ever air? Or perhaps Jim proposing at a gas station in the rain? Or Jim and Pam’s first kiss?
As the finale more than showed, ‘The Office’s legacy will likely be none of these and all of these — a collection of beautiful moments both big and small.
First Look: ‘The Office’ Series Finale | TV Line
NBC Reveals Description and Guest Stars for THE OFFICE Series Finale:
NBC has released the official description of the series finale for The Office, featuring confirmation of guest stars (sorry, no Michael Scott) and an unveiling that the hour will use a time jump:
05/16/2013 (09:00PM - 10:01PM) (Thursday) : THE OFFICE SAYS GOODBYE IN ITS ONE HOUR SERIES FINALE - GUEST STARRING MINDY KALING, BJ NOVAK, RACHAEL HARRIS, DAKOTA JOHNSON, JOAN CUSACK, ED BEGLEY JR., MALCOLM BARRETT, MATT JONES, ANDY BUCKLEY, MIKE SCHUR, BOBBY RAY SHAFER
Months after the airing of the documentary, the workers of Dunder Mifflin, past and present, gather for a wedding and a final round of interviews. Mysteries are solved, hatchets are buried, pranks are prunked.
Also starring Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, Catherine Tate, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nuñez, Phyllis Smith, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Clark Duke, and Jake Lacy.
I’m not convinced Michael Scott won’t be appearing.
Hate on Fox all you want for canceling ‘Firefly’, ‘Arrested Development’ and every other bold fan favorite, they did one thing right. Whether it was TV audience splintering over the last twenty years (that helped ‘Chuck’ in a very similar fashion), the diehard dedication of the fandom, or Fox putting its trust and time into another experiment, against all odds the weird, strange, wonderful show that was ‘Fringe’ was given five seasons. And a chance to tell its story to its rightful end.
The series finale, while not especially revelatory, was a moving tribute to the show’s history and fans. It packed its running time with call backs and references, brought back once-forgotten characters and gave all of its main cast deep scenes to play. For a show that always delivered on big character emotions (mixed in with its science fiction), it was a return to form in the finale. John Noble particularly capped off a career-defining role with the same skill and dedication that he’s shown for five years, but brought everything full circle and made all of the “finale” moments land without seeming too overt. Noble is the next Bryan Cranston, mark my words. [Special credit should go to Michael Ceveris as well for turning a role that was a glorified extra in season one to one of the most sympathetic, lived-in characters by season five. Seriously, his performance sold so much of these final episodes.]
‘Fringe’ had its fair share of missteps over the years and even tonight’s finale wasn’t flawless. (The generous array of bullets through the fog in the final battle scene felt superfluous, hindered by the editing and staging of the set piece on top of it.) But when you go for what they went for, it’s bound to happen. ‘Fringe’s big swings and big ideas will surely outlast its hiccups and hopefully Fox, the creators and the rest of the television industry will continue to take chances on adventurous network programming.
If you stuck with ‘Fringe’ till the end, I don’t need to tell you how powerful and original the series was. If for nothing else, its creativity will be sorely missed.
Because it’s cool.
[On a personal level, ‘Fringe’ has been one of my favorite shows throughout its entire run and one that I reference most of my taste on. I am immensely satisfied with the ending and so glad that they got a chance to explore the season five story and bring it to its conclusion.]
Traielr: ’Fringe’ Series Finale | THR
Sepinwall asks all the right questions, not only about the (satisfying, mind-bending, and supremely done) Awake finale, but Killen’s two attempts at network drama in general.
The Promo Poster For The ‘House’ Series Finale
While most of this season has been very uneven, I’m eager to see if ‘House’ manages to wrap up the series on a high note. House season 8 feels a bit like the final season of ‘The Gilmore Girls’ where things also felt aimless and like it should have ended a season earlier. Sadly if the rumors of Lisa Edelstein not returning for the finale are true it will be a great missed opportunity to give closer to that unresolved relationship on ‘House’. Olivia Wilde and Kal Penn are also set to return for the series finale in some capacity.
RIP: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Series finale will air 1/13/12. Franchise continues as specials.— Joe Adalian (@TVMoJoe) December 15, 2011
In case you missed it, here is the final scene from the series finale of Entourage. Seems like a weird way to end such an amazing show.