The Office is my favorite sitcom of all-time, and tonight it comes to an end. Since the quality of the show has drastically dropped over the last few seasons, it's good that it's ending. Actually, I would have much preferred that they end the show with Steve Carrell's departure.
Ranking the seasons is actually pretty easy for me. My standing belief is that season 2 is the peak of The Office, and the further you get away from season 2 the weaker the show gets. Thus, ranking the seasons is rather simple.
BEST TO WORST:
I think I can honestly say I've seen every episode of this season over 10 times. We re-watch these episodes constantly. This is where they hit their sweet spot with the tone and comedy. It has just the right balance of realistic scenarios, a couple of over-the top characters, and a series of relatable normal people responding to the outrageous situations. As the seasons passed, the show drifted towards wacky characters and totally ridiculous scenarios.
The Jim and Pam relationship is probably the most realistic relationship I've seen in a sitcom. The characters actually act and relate like real people.
There are no bad episodes.
While this season was great, they hadn't yet discovered their unique tone. Michael Scott at this point in time was just an American David Brent. He had none of the genuine concern for his co-workers that would appear in season 2.
While there was only 6 episodes, they were all good.
This is another great season loaded with classic episodes and emotional punch. There are a few dud episodes thrown in the mix, and this is where the show started drifting towards the absurd. Already some characters start becoming completely over-the-top.
For me, this is the last great season. After this point, there's a sharp drop in the overall quality of the show. Like season 3, it's spotty at times, and by this point in time, multiple character's personalities have completely changed.
Of course, this season get's major credit for producing, "The Dinner Party," possibly the greatest example of realistic uncomfortable humor in the history television. It's so uncomfortable and so funny throughout, and the best part, you can relate to the whole thing. I need to re-watch it frequently as a checklist of things to make sure I NEVER do when I have people over.
This is actually the first season I watched when it originally aired. Overall it's still pretty good. It's of course very funny (but how couldn't you be with this cast?). However, the greatness is gone, and I was disappointed we didn't get more time with Holly.
The highlights for me were Holly and Charles Miner.
SEASON 6 & 7
Honestly, seasons 6 and 7 pretty much blend together in my mind. By this point in time, the majority of the cast have transitioned to caricatures of their former selves. Any new characters they add are strictly ridiculous. Who thought Gabe was a good character? How did he stay on the show as long as he did?
The highlights are the obvious episodes: Niagra (the wedding episode), The Delivery, and Goodbye Michael.
The biggest disappointment was of course Will Ferrell.
SEASONS 8 & 9
Thinking back over the last two seasons, I honestly can't believe just how bad some of the plot lines and characters have been. If you watch an episode from one of these two seasons and then go back and watch an episode form season 2 they feel like entirely different shows. The cast is mostly the same. The settings are mostly the same, but the tone is so drastically different. Aside from Clark Duke's characters, they've continued the trend of adding totally obnoxious and unbelievable characters to the cast.
I nearly stopped watching the show when they started hinting at Pam having an affair, and Jim becoming the new Roy. They were probably just an episode away from me not finishing watching one of my favorite shows. I can't fathom who thought it would be a good idea to spend 15 episodes with Jim and Pam mad at each other.
I can't think of any highlights in season 8, but the final episodes of season 9 are certainly a highlight.
I'm assuming that tonight's finale is going to be even better than the last two episodes, which themselves were pretty great.
It just makes me think how incredible of a finale season we could have gotten if they had ended with season 7. Consider this, the last two episodes as well as tonight's episode have all been double length. Michael's farewell was also double length. That's the potential for 8 straight episodes of greatness and emotional payoff. They wouldn't need to pad out the season with false drama or throw away episodes and new characters.
That would have been incredible.