The Remote: The series finale for ‘The Office’ can’t come soon enough

Ryan Pait

It’s hard to watch one of your favorite shows fall prey to the law of diminishing returns.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s been happening to NBC’s “The Office” over the past few years.

Like a lot of shows, “The Office” had a rocky first season. Its pilot episode was basically an exact replication of the British version of the show’s pilot, minus the British-ness.

There were laughs, but the show still felt stuffy and unsure of its tone.

The show really found its footing during its second season. Michael Scott (the incomparable Steve Carell) became more of a character and less of a caricature, Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) grew together sweetly and the supporting characters began to be fleshed out with funny quirks.

This stride continued into the third and fourth seasons. These two seasons also included some changes in dynamics that showed that the show still had potential to grow and change organically and become even funnier. They also offered some of the show’s best episodes.

The fifth season included some riskier changes in the show’s basic structure. At one point, Michael, Pam and Ryan left the offices of Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company to form their own company, called (what else?) the Michael Scott Paper Company.

It was a big risk to take story-wise, but one that ultimately paid off. The Michael Scott Paper Company arc is one of the show’s strongest and funniest, and it resolved itself in a way that felt correct within the world of the show.

Season six is when the show began running into problems. Jim and Pam (4-year-old spoiler alert) got married and had a baby, and started to become condescending and annoying. Things began to feel stale, and the season ended with a dull thud.

Season seven saw a further decline, with more of the episodes being bad rather than good.

The show was struck another blow when Steve Carell announced that he was leaving the show. “Goodbye, Michael” is one of the series’ best episodes, but mostly because it highlights the best of the show’s former glory.

Many fans of the show (myself included) felt that the show should end with Michael leaving. While the show’s ensemble was strong, Michael Scott (and Steve Carell) was the glue that held it all together so wonderfully.

That brings us to season eight, which was even worse than the previous season. Other stars were brought in to try and fill the void left by Carell, with none being even remotely close to successful. This has continued into the current, and thankfully, final, season.

Despite the obvious efforts of the people behind the show, “The Office” has been in creative free fall for two seasons running.

The quirky supporting characters have been reduced to broad and crude stereotypes. New (and frankly, mediocre) cast members have been introduced, mostly to repeat the past story lines of other characters. Old jokes and ideas have been run ragged.

And the new material isn’t so great either.

While I will watch the series finale, I’ve stopped watching the show live. I’ve decided to catch up later, because nothing is keeping me around anymore.

No matter how it ends, I’ve decided that I’ll remember “The Office” on my own terms — back when it was still good.

I think that’s probably the best way.