Put it Out to Pasture: The Office

"There is an end to everything, to good things as well" - Chaucer
With that said, I'd like to welcome you to the first post of another new feature here at Event Fatigue, Put it Out to Pasture. Basically, I spotlight TV shows, comic books, musicians, filmmakers, or anything else really that has outlived it's success and glory days and needs to be sent out to pasture. Now, in order for something to qualify for being put out to pasture, it has to actually be good at one point in its career, so no Til Death or CSI: Miami appearances because those shows just flat out need to die slowly and painfully. For the first post of the feature, I'm going to be talking about a show that was personally my favorite on TV but has now fallen and is no longer the juggernaut that it once was, The Office. Hit the jump for the article.

The Office

Born in the U.S.A

Well, not really. The Office was originally created in the U.K. and starred Ricky Gervais as the obnoxious and incredibly socially awkward David Brent, the boss of the titular office. The originaly British Office was brilliant, and holds the distinction for being the only show I was ever initially exposed to during a final exam in college. (Thanks to Roger Bechtel) It was adapted for American audiences starring Steve Carrell as Michael Scott and in the very beginning sought to just straight-up adapt the plots from the British series with American jokes. Thankfully, that only lasted for four episodes, as by the end of Season One (which was only 6 episodes long) they were breaking new ground and was much better off for it.

Glory Days

Then Season Two hit, and it was probably the best season of a sitcom in a decade, rivaling some of the very best seasons of the Simpsons. No longer was the show an American version of a comedy, it was it's own show that merely got a shove out of the door by the Gervais vehicle and was now even better than the original. The end of Season Two, Casino Night, is my favorite non-Simpsons sitcom episode of all time, as Michael reveals his true hatred for Toby Flenderson while Jim and Pam have their best scenes together. Season Three kept the trend going and in many ways surpassed Season Two by introducing new characters that were hilarious and brought a lot to the show as a whole, none more than Ed Helms' Andy Bernard. The Nard Dawg is easily my favorite character outside of Jim and Pam, and so far there has not been a bad "Andy heavy" episode in the entire series.

One Step Up

Seasons Two and Three really were this show at the top of it's game, and honestly Season Four was still really freaking enjoyable, as the dynamic of the show changed once again with Jim and Pam dating openly and Ryan the Temp being promoted to Michael's boss, and with these new situations there were still some high quality episodes, including the best of Season Four and one of the best of the series in The Dinner Party. While Four was not as strong a Season as Two and Three were, it was still better than every other show on television, and the finale of Four Goodbye Toby set-up Season Five beautifully with Andy and Angela getting engaged, Jim being ready to propose to Pam, Toby leaving and being replaced by Holly (played by the awesome Amy Ryan) who was essentially a female version of Michael so of course Michael fell in love with her. Things were still looking up.

I'm Goin' Down

Then, Season Five hit, and as a whole the quality of the show suffered the whole time. Pam was in New York for the first half of the season for art school, but instead of adding new characters or drama through this shift, all it served to do was seperate Jim and Pam for a couple episodes with no real pay-off to anything that was presented. Then, Michael and Holly got together so easily and quickly that all the fun of Michael being love-sick was drawn completely out of the story and the end of this arc was just so sudden and short-sighted that it really made me wonder why they even bothered with it at all if they weren't going to follow through on it. I understand that Amy Ryan is a terrific actress who is doing movies and other things, but if you're going to birng in a character like that either get her to commit to more than six or eight episodes or hire a different actress who will stay on the show. The highlight of this Season for me was bringing in another The Wire alum Idris Elba to play Charles Miner, a new foil for Michael to antagonize and the catalyst for the Michael Scott Paper Company to born. That story arc was funny and fresh, and we got to see the best aspects of Michael Scott as a character; delightfully awkward and oblivious, yet incredibly capable and someone who genuinely cares about all of his employees. That was the high point of Five and honestly, The Office at this point was still a terrific show.


It is not anymore. The sooner we agree to this the better. This season, Season Six, has been incredibly weak all the way around with most of the cast acting surprisingly out of character for most of the season. The move to make Jim grow up and become Co-Manager with Michael was a bold one and something that I honestly thought would pay dividends for the series, but now it appears that it was the death knell for the show. Moving Jim up in the ranks apparently signaled an end to Dwight being a complex and sometimes well-meaning jerk to full-time supervillainy. In fact, with every episode where he escaltes his "evil" plan it damages his character more and more, because honestly at this point how does this not end with either Jim getting fired or Jim figuring out what Dwight is up to and firing him for it? The other big problem I have with this story is the way that it portrays Jim as an idiot, since for five years Dwight could never get the upper hand and figure out what Jim was up to until it was too late, but now Jim can't see through Dwight's obvious "Employee of the Month" scheme? Also, the big friction between Dwight and Jim for years has been the fact that Dwight wanted Jim and he to be friends, but since they are such different people Jim pulls pranks on Dwight but at the end of the day Jim would not flat out hurt Dwight and vice versa. Some of the best Office episodes were the ones like Money from Season Four where Jim and Pam spend the night at Dwight's beet farm Bed and Breakfest as a way to cheer him up from his break-up with Angela. When Dwight resigned in Traveling Salesmen, he gave Jim a big hug before he left, one of the few genuine geastures between the two of them. Yet now Dwight is out to ruin Jim's entire life solely because Jim got a promotion (not forgetting of course that Jim was already number two in the office for several years, so he's been ahead of Dwight in the pecking order the whole time unlike somebody like Ryan becoming his boss)? I call shenanigans.

Spare Parts

And the rest of the ensemble aren't fairing any better this season either, as everyone has had a couple moments that have left die-hard fans scratching their heads, but unfortunately Pam Beesley-Halpert has gotten the worst of it as far as the rest of the cast goes. Acting like a spoiled petulent child and yelling at Michael acting like a total attitude-case? Where's my loveable Pam who never used to become a total bitch when things got bad and was always able to handle adversity? Her character is no longer likeable this season, something that I thought would be completely impossible once upon a time, and it's gotten to the point where I roll my eyes at Pam heavy subplots. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!! I love Pam as a character, and honestly I think Jenna Fischer is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood and genuinely funny as an actresss. That isn't to say that everybody has been bad this season, as Andy is always funny, Paul Lieberstein's Toby is hilarious whenever he shows up, and I think that there can never be enough appearances by Daryl from the warehouse. The biggest positive surprise this season has been Erin, the new receptionist, as she has become a great character on her own and has just started a story arc with Andy thankfully as the two of them are great together in their scenes. Aside from those four? Downhill fast.

Blinded by the Light

The saddest part of this season though, for me, is the fact that because every episode has to try and one-up Michael being embarressed and ruining things the act has gotten really tired and old. In the early seasons they broke it up so not only did Michael win every once in a while, but they realized that they fans would get sick to death of constantly watching through their wincing as Michael ruins yet another magical moment. The show thrived when the audience felt genuine sympathy for Michael and rooted for him to do well or at the very least to catch a break. But now I don't root for Michael and this past week's episode is a perfect example of that. Michael promised these kids 10 years ago he would pay for their college, since Michael believed he'd be a millionare by then, but really he had less money then he did when he made the promise. That should be a funny premise, but they spend the whole episode building everything up so when he breaks the kids hearts it's no longer funny and instead just pathetic that he would do this to these people, regardless of the fact that his phony promise raised their graduation rate from 33% up to 95% which was an after-thought instead of being Michael's saving grace. I'm just sick and tired of every episode knocking Michael Scott down instead of showing him as a good person who just doesn't know how to act in polite society.

Fade Away

I think that The Office has gone over the edge, and I don't necesarily think that it's beyond saving, it is currently in a downward spiral and I sincerely hope they right the ship before it is too late to save what was once the best show on TV. I hope you enjoyed my Bruce Springsteen song title laden post, and I think I might end up picking a random theme like that for all of my Put it Out to Pasture posts. Keep reading and we'll find out together shall we?

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