Remember the days when you couldn't throw a beet without hitting someone who was 'shipping so hard for Jim and Pam, they actually hated Rashida Jones? Or who proudly displayed a Dundie on the mantle? Or who (un)ironically punctuated every sentence with "That's what she said?" Actually, that last one you might still be doing. She says so much crazy stuff!
America had The Office-mania. I mean, we didn't trust the show's cast to guide us through a popular operating system or anything but, darn it, we came close. You couldn't enter the vicinity of a Target dollar bin without seeing Dwight Schrute mugging from a stack of cocktail napkins. Though the fervor may have cooled some (those napkins are still sitting on a shelf at the Dollar Tree if you're still into that), it's sad to see The Office move into its final season knowing we'll have to say goodbye to (most of) these characters we've been hanging out with for nearly a decade. Make no mistake: It's time (and it might have been time last season), but it's still a little sad.
Although I can say Season 8 was better than the three or four before it, I have some advice for show in Season 9. It's not that I don't trust The Office. But I don't trust The Office. Allow me to offer a few suggestions that should help its producers and writers close down such a classic series with class.
DON'T explore every permutation of intraoffice coupling.
Just because it's the last season, doesn't mean we need to see everyone trying to mount everyone else before the end. This isn't an animal documentary on husbandry. This isn't Friends (seriously, how close did we get to Ross and Monica at least considering it?). We don't need to see what it might be like if Angela fell for Gabe or Kelly got down with... Gabe? I guess we've already explored a lot the permutations, so let's leave what's left to the slash-fic writers. I mean, there are already built-in arcs to tie up: Andy and Erin, Dwight and Angela, Darryl and Val. We don't need an increase the office incest. Stick to how the show established itself, men and women breaking through obstacles to find the loves of their lives. Speaking of which...
DO let us fall in love with Jim and Pam again.
You may or may not agree but, just like when your IRL friends get married, the Jam marriage made these two once-crazy kids bland. Seeing the couple become parents may have interested us a little, but the ultimate consummation of their soulmate nature stole a piece of the show. Obviously, no one would have survived 'shipping them for nine seasons, but maybe it's time to shake things up in the Halpert house. An affair, real or imagined? We need a test that will bring these two to the brink and remind us of why they (and we) fell in love in the first place.
DON'T make me watch more scenes in a maternity ward.
The people at the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin spend entirely too much time in the hospital and the only time it was halfway enjoyable was when Michael hit Meredith with his car. Besides, we don't need any more babies. No surrogates, no adoptions. Babies are not an option. Think harder.
DO make a wedding interesting if you insist on having one.
Andy and Erin getting married in the final act of the series is not interesting. Same goes for any potential marriages between any of the other cast members (Ryan and Kelly, maybe? Would that be weird?). I understand the temptation: Shakespeare comedies end in a wedding. But Shakespeare comedies don't last nine years. The only one that would maybe be worthwhile would be Jim and Pam renewing their vows after a hardship. Otherwise, keep these kids out of a church. I'll let you slide with a Michael/Holly wedding, but you're pushing it.
DON'T make Todd Packer your Janice.
The problem with Janice on Friends was that she lost her appeal as an antagonist by the time we realized Chandler and Monica were pretty much together forever. Annoying, for sure, but tired as a joke. Todd Packer is most effective when Michael Scott is around and, since Michael left, Packer has been used sparingly (I loved him in the Tallahassee arc from Season 8). Let's keep it that way. Small doses.
DO bring people back with style.
That being said about Packer, I want to see people return in a way that doesn't seem forced. Asking people to come back for a big event (a wedding, a funeral, a reunion, etc) seems as cheap as a clip show to me. Scrubs laid it on thick by having JD literally walk down a hallway filled with guest stars and then showing an epilogue soundtracked with Peter Gabriel. Bill Lawerence, you bastard. I'd rather see characters come back and shake things up for the Scranton Branch, not just show up for a quip and drop out. Don't get lazy.
DON'T show me who is making the documentary.
I know it's been announced that we'll meet the crew this season but I'm saying this anyway, just in case it's not too late. I don't care if the mastermind is Werner Herzog. I don't want to see it. Do not walk into temptation!
DO make the result of the documentary available.
After nine years of footage, I hope it's, like, seven minutes long. And only a minute of it actually has to do with a paper company. It's a commercial for the Scranton Board of Tourism. Yessssssss.
What about you? What do you want to see in the final season of The Office?