Television: The Office Series Finale

So after suffering through a couple weak and limping seasons, NBC's The Office finally closed its doors this past Thursday, and I'd say that while the conclusion was far from perfect I'm mostly satisfied.

The episode was structured largely around Dwight and Angela's wedding, piling on a "Where Are They Now?" panel as part of the aftermath of the PBS documentary. This is all occurring one year after the documentary's airing, mind, and the crew is back to get additional footage for the DVDs. How lucky for them, then, that most lingering questions were magically resolved on that very day! Nellie gets handed a baby (literally—how will she get it a passport, I wonder), Ryan and Kelly finally get together, Ellie finds her birth parents (Joan Cusack and Ed Begley Jr., the latter looking much like he's not sure where he is or why), and David is contributing to Oscar's senatorial campaign.

Oh, it's not all good news. Andy has failed as an actor (but is "happy" working for Cornell's Admissions Department), Creed has gone underground after the documentary leaves him open to a standing arrest warrant, and Toby and Kevin have both been fired, with Kevin now owning and running a local bar and Toby having moved to New York to be a writer—yet despite having six roommates, he's as lonely as ever.

In any case, the series finale tied things up neatly. If the goal was to learn where everyone ended up, it was achieved. If the goal was, however, to be satisfied with all the endings, then that's a matter of personal taste. I was glad to learn that Jim and Pam would be moving to Austin, not only because I lived there and love the city, but because I had not been altogether pleased with or sold on Jim's having forfeited his greater opportunities to remain at Dunder Mifflin. Better, then, that he and Pam came to a happy understanding—at least in my opinion. But things like this are so subjective . . . Many people may have preferred to see Jim and Pam stay, but I like the idea of growth and moving on, the end of an era (or documentary). I might have liked it if Dwight had invited Andy back to take Jim's place, but Andy had become so unlikeable by the end, and it would probably just have been awkward since Andy had once dated Angela. So maybe it's better this way.

Truthfully, The Office had lived a bit past its prime, so it was definitely time to say goodbye. I'll admit, though I'm no softie, I teared up a few times. And enjoyed the cats as wedding gifts. If the ending was a bit too pat in some respects, well, I'll give them a pass. Over at least seven out of nine years, the show regularly delivered smiles, so it comes out in the black in my ledger.

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