Firstly, I had really high expectations for Search Committee. The episode itself was good but not really up to scratch for a final episode of The Office. That being said, like every other episode I really enjoyed it.
I now think the real focus of attention will be who is going to be the new boss, and for me only one interviewee really stood out and that was Robert California played by James Spader. He was such a strong character with a really strong presence. In my opinion he really stole the episode and has got massive potential. I would certainly not be disappointed to see Will Ferrell back as Deangelo Vickers, who I thought appeared in one of the funniest Office scenes ever with his motivational juggling in The Inner Circle episode.
I was not really that impressed by any of the other candidates. I've read articles mentioning Katherine Tate is a front runner. I think it would be an absolute disaster if she became boss so I hope the articles are wrong.
Looking forward to next season
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Season 7: Some weaker plots/events produce weaker episodes but otherwise this is another solidly enjoyable and funny season
Many years ago The Office US tried to copy the UK original and it was a mess. Fortunately this approach was ditched for the second season and a much warmer but just as funny sitcom came out of it and I have enjoyed it for many seasons now even though it has gotten more "traditional" as it has gone along. Season 7 is to be Michael Scott's final season and I knew this going in. From the very start there are some things that made me think that perhaps this would be a good time to wrap it up even though I know the makers are forging ahead to continue the show without Carell. The most obvious of these is that in many episodes the writing is just not as good as previous seasons.
Well, not the writing in terms of dialogue but the structure, the ideas, the "things" that happen each episode from the pre-credit sequence through to the actual plot of that episode. So we have plots involving herpes, Andy's play, counselling and a few other things that don't work quite as well as similar plots in previous seasons. They do still work though because in essence the jokes/plots are the same in terms of what they are trying to do and there are the usual interoffice rivalries, horseplay, relationships and characters. Some of this is forced (for example a cameo by Olyphant appears only to be there as a lot device that doesn't really go anywhere meaningful) but it is still funny. The cast of characters in the office make this the case as all of them can be relied upon to give a hilarious aside when called upon and this is frequently but the season is really at its strongest when it is mixing this up while also focusing on Scott. This extends the approach taken in seasons 5 and 6 where the show became more and more character driven and less about well-observed things happening in the workplace.
This still works because Scott is such a great character. An embarrassing clown on the outside but really just missing something on the inside. Bringing Holly back into the story was a great move because she seems to get him but also helps him reign it in a little bit too and see what is important. These episodes are the best of the season because they have him at the core and are funny as well as meaningful for his character. Jim and Pam as the "relationship driver" of the show seems to have run its course and there are plenty of other characters who start having personal lives which can be used by the writers not all of them work as well and some of the characters are best left as comedy asides, but there is room to grow here if done well. This is shown by the decision to get Scott out a few episodes from the end, to let the show justify moving forward to season 8. These episodes are funny and make good use of the cast, albeit they are helped "event" wise by being about the management gap left by him leaving which helps covers up the early-season weaknesses of some of the events/plots not being that great. These events and threads will be key to keeping it going if season 8 is engaging and funny without being silly or forced then Scott can be moved past if not then that character will simply hover over the show as a ghost of better times.
Even if the show does keep on without him for many more seasons, Carell is still great and the best character on the show because he is a mix of comedy and tragic that works very well. His performance is convincing and he has really made Scott more than just a comedy character. Wilson continues to be very funny and the material is there for his delivery. Krasinski is left with a few too many "looks to camera" this season as the plots move away from him and Pam he is good at them, but he needs the material to prevent him doing it too often. Fischer remains such a sweet performance and so grounded that it is hard not to love her and I do. It is really hard to separate the supporting cast because all of them are really good when called upon for parts. From the dumb Baumgartner to tragic sad-eyed Lieberstein to the bubble-headed Kaling to the erratic Bratton, everyone gets their characters just right and are rewarded with consistently strong asides and lines from the writers.
Season 7 of The US Office and it is still in good health. The loss of Carell is a reason to have worries over the future of the show but without him I think it has more than enough talent in cast and writers to carry on. The plots are key to it doing so, as some of the weaker ones in this season produced weaker episodes but conversely season 7 also has some nice threads that provide a good base for asides and laughs. When compared against seasons 2-6, season 7 could have been better in many regards but it is still entertaining and funny now the challenge will be keeping it going now the obvious focal point has been removed.
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