The Office: Season 9 created by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Greg Daniels (Reveille Productions, NBC Universal Television, Deedle-Dee Productions)
Starring John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Rainn Wilson.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for earlier seasons.
What has the film crew been doing all these years?
Considering its premise—a documentary crew filming an office to depict work-life in America—why would a crew film its subjects for 9 years? Given their intentions, surely no more than a year of footage would suffice?
Early in the concluding season of The Office, the viewer discovers the reason for sticking with these employees for so long. The crew remains—and truthfully, we watch—because we all want to know what becomes of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer). While the shenanigans of Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) lofted this show into the pantheon of television comedy, the simple emotion of a boy pursuing a girl functioned as the foundation of the show.
We laughed because of the comedy; we watched because of the characters.
Jim and Pam are the bedrock of Season 9. Growing tired of the monotony of paper sales, Jim has partnered, unbeknownst to Pam, with college friends to launch a startup sports management firm, titled “Athlead.” This development causes ripples down to the roots of the couple’s relationship. For starters, Athlead operates in Philadelphia, while Pam likes Scranton. Secondly, Jim made multiple decisions without prior consulting with Pam, some decisions involving a great deal of money.
These circumstances cause considerable stress, to the point where the couple argues over the phone during a late evening of work. This scene, in particular, defines the final season of The Office because the documentary crew breaks its silence. When Pam breaks weeps in the wake of said phone call, the crew steps out from behind the camera and the boom mic. The viewer discovers the face of a documentarian, a mic operator charged with recording Pam over the course of 9 years, a person as involved with the story as we are.
The final frontier of this groundbreaking show has emerged. Will Jim and Pam stick together? Or will Athlead split them apart. Aside from standard comedic narrative, this theme is the story of Season 9.
At a deeper level, The Office, while functioning as a translation from the British version of the show, is a groundbreaking show. Nine years ago when the pilot launched, the term, mockumentary, only defined Christopher Guest and his pioneering work with films such as This Is Spinal Tap and Best in Show. But for network television? A comedy meant a laugh track, absurd situations a person in normal life would avoid at all cost, and caricatures masking as actors.
Of course, The Office moved in chimerical ways during its later years—don’t all shows? But, at its core, the show is about characters, the monotony of work, and a new way of filming a television show. With the premise of a film crew documenting the life of the average American worker, the television show utilized confessional shots, long-distance spy shots to support the narrative. Additionally, The Office refused to add many sound effects. The sounds you’d hear in an office are the sounds you’ll hear on the show.
Between Style and Character
The style, ultimately, defines this show, much like the viewer watches for comedy and sticks around for Jim and Pam. Why did the documentary crew choose to film for such a long time? There was a story to tell. Why did we watch this show for 9 seasons? The groundbreaking style bolstered a humorous and dramatic narrative.
Verdict: 4 out of 5