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The End of an Era

I used to love NBC’s The Office. I watched it religiously for many years. For a long time, I considered it the best sitcom on TV. After three or four seasons, I became convinced the American version had actually surpassed the British sitcom on which it was based. Dwight and Creed in particular were amazing characters, and of course, like everyone, I was caught up in the Jim and Pam romance. (Though, for a while, I was pretty sure Jim would be better off with Karen Filipelli, the Utica branch co-worker played by the outstanding Rashida Jones, who treated Jim a lot better than Pam did at the time because she actually liked him and wasn’t dithering about some completely unworthy fiancé.)

Strangely enough, I never considered Steve Carell’s Michael Scott my favorite character, but when Carell left the show, wisely sensing it was running out of steam after seven years, I quickly lost interest. I think I made it through roughly half the eighth season before opting out. Robert California, the replacement Regional Manager, was a disaster, despite being played by the superb James Spader. His character stuck out like a sore thumb. He belonged on a completely different show. Every plotline that focused on him was tedious. On top of that, I just couldn’t get into all the Andy and Erin romantic angst. They were no Jim and Pam. Not even close.

So I stayed away from the show for a year and a half, but I decided to tune in to this week’s series finale, and I’m glad I did. I laughed a lot, and even got a little teary-eyed, just like I used to during the show’s heyday. (Though Ryan abandoning his baby was pretty questionable as far as funniness goes. I mean, come on, you guys.) Still, it was a great sendoff to a once-great sitcom. So long, The Office, and thanks for all the great memories. I forgive you for Robert California.

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