The Office (U.S. TV series)

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The Office
The Office-logo.png
Genre Sitcom
Mockumentary
Based on The Office (BBC series) 
by Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Developed by Greg Daniels
Starring Steve Carell
Rainn Wilson
John Krasinski
Jenna Fischer
B. J. Novak
Ed Helms
Melora Hardin
David Denman
Leslie David Baker
Brian Baumgartner
Creed Bratton
Kate Flannery
Mindy Kaling
Ellie Kemper
Angela Kinsey
Paul Lieberstein
Oscar Nunez
Craig Robinson
Phyllis Smith
Zach Woods
Amy Ryan
James Spader
Catherine Tate
Clark Duke
Jake Lacy
Theme music composer Jay Ferguson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 201 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Greg Daniels
Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Howard Klein
Ben Silverman
Paul Lieberstein
Jennifer Celotta
B. J. Novak
Mindy Kaling
Brent Forrester
Dan Sterling
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22 minutes (normal episodes)
28 minutes ("super-sized" episodes)
42 minutes (hour-long episodes)
(details)
Production company(s) Deedle-Dee Productions
Reveille Productions (2005–12)
Shine America (2012–13)
NBC Universal Television Studio (2005–07)
Universal Media Studios (2007–11)
Universal Television (2011–13)
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital
Original run March 24, 2005 (2005-03-24) – May 16, 2013 (2013-05-16)
Chronology
Related shows The Office (UK)
External links
Website

The Office is an American television comedy series that originally aired on NBC from March 24, 2005 to May 16, 2013.[1] It is an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name. The Office was adapted for American audiences by Greg Daniels, a veteran writer for Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill, and The Simpsons. It is co-produced by Daniels' Deedle-Dee Productions, and Reveille Productions (later Shine America), in association with Universal Television. The original executive producers were Greg Daniels, Howard Klein, Ben Silverman, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant, with numerous others being promoted in later seasons.

The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. To simulate the look of an actual documentary, it is filmed in a single-camera setup, without a studio audience or a laugh track. The show debuted on NBC as a mid-season replacement and ran for nine seasons, and 201 episodes. The Office features Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak and Ed Helms on the main cast. Series star Carell, who portrayed Michael Scott, left the series near the end of the seventh season.[2]

The first five seasons of The Office received widespread acclaim, were included on myriad critics' top TV series lists, and won several awards including four Primetime Emmy Awards, one of which was for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2006. However, the final seasons were criticized for a dip in quality. The series initially debuted to low ratings, but during its second season it became the highest-rated scripted series on NBC and was eventually chosen to follow Super Bowl XLIII. Off-network syndication of The Office began in late 2007 on TBS and Fox-owned stations in the United States.[3]

Production[edit]

Crew[edit]

List of showrunners throughout the series' run:

Greg Daniels served as the senior series showrunner for the first four seasons of the series and developed the British series for American television. He then left the position when he co-created the comedy series Parks and Recreation with fellow Office writer Michael Schur and divided his time between the two series.[4] Paul Lieberstein and Jennifer Celotta were named the series showrunners for the fifth season.[5] Celotta left the series after the sixth season and Lieberstein stayed on as showrunner for the following two seasons. He left the showrunner spot after the eighth season for the potential Dwight Schrute spin-off, The Farm, which was eventually passed up by NBC.[6][7] Daniels returned to the showrunner position for the ninth and final season.[8] Other executive producers include cast members B. J. Novak and Mindy Kaling.[9][10] Kaling, Novak, Daniels, Lieberstein and Schur made up the original team of writers.[11] Kaling, Novak and Lieberstein also serve multiple roles on the series, as they play regular characters on the show, as well as write, direct and produce episodes.[12] Credited with twenty-four episodes, Kaling is the most prolific writer on the staff.[12] Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who created the original British series, are credited as executive producers, and wrote the pilot and the third season episode, "The Convict".[13] Merchant later directed the episode "Customer Survey" while Gervais appeared in the episodes "The Seminar" and "Search Committee".[14][15]

Randall Einhorn is the most frequent director of the series, with 15 credited episodes.[12] The series has also had several guest directors, including Lost co-creator J. J. Abrams, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon,[16][17] both of whom are fans of the series,[18][19] and filmmakers Jon Favreau, Harold Ramis, Jason Reitman, and Marc Webb.[12] Episodes have been directed by several of the actors on the show including Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, and Brian Baumgartner.[12]

Development and writing[edit]

Before the series aired its second episode, the writers spent time researching in offices.[20] This process was used for Daniels' other series King of the Hill and Parks and Recreation.[20] The pilot is a direct adaptation of the first episode of the British version.[21] Daniels had decided to go this route because "completely starting from scratch would be a very risky thing to do" due to the show being an adaptation.[21] He had briefly considered using the idea for "The Dundies" as the pilot episode.[22] After the writers knew who the cast was, they were allowed to write for the actors which allowed the show to be more original for the following episode, "Diversity Day".[21] Following the mixed reaction towards the first season, the writers attempted to make the series more "optimistic" and make Michael Scott more likable.[23] They also established the supporting characters of the series more, giving them actual personalities and made the lights in the office brighter, which allowed the series to differentiate itself from the British version.[23]

A common problem with the scripts, according to Novak, is that they tend to run too-long for the regular 22-minute timeslot, leading to several cuts.[24] For example, the script for the episode "Search Committee" was initially 75 pages—10 pages too long.[24] A complete script is written for each episode; however, actors are given opportunities to improvise during the shooting process. Fischer said that "Our shows are 100 percent scripted, They put everything down on paper. But we get to play around a little bit, too. Steve and Rainn are brilliant improvisers."[25] This leads to a large number of deleted scenes with almost every episode of The Office, all of which are considered part of the show's canon and storyline by Daniels.[26] Deleted scenes have sometimes been restored in repeats to make episodes longer or draw people who have seen the episode before back to see the bonus footage. In an experiment, a deleted scene from "The Return" was made available over NBC.com and iTunes; explaining the absence of a character over the next several episodes.[26] Daniels hoped that word of mouth among fans would spread the information, but eventually considered the experiment a failure.[26]

Casting[edit]

According to Jenna Fischer, the series used an unusual casting process which did not involve a script. The producers would ask the actor/actress several questions and they would respond as the character they were auditioning for.[27] NBC programmer Kevin Reilly originally suggested Paul Giamatti to producer Ben Silverman for the role of Michael Scott, but the actor declined. Martin Short, Hank Azaria and Bob Odenkirk were reported to be interested in the part.[28] In January 2004, Variety reported that Steve Carell, of the popular Comedy Central program The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was in talks to play the role. At the time, he was already committed to another NBC mid-season replacement comedy, Come to Papa,[29] but the series was quickly canceled, leaving him fully committed to The Office. Carell later stated he had only seen about half of the original pilot episode of the British series before he auditioned. He did not continue watching for fear that he would start copying Gervais' characterizations.[30] Other people who were considered or auditioned for the role included Ben Falcone, Alan Tudyk, Jim Zulevic and Paul F. Tompkins. Rainn Wilson who was cast as the power-hungry sycophant Dwight Schrute, watched every episode of the series before he auditioned.[31] Wilson had originally auditioned for Michael, a performance he described as a "terrible Ricky Gervais impersonation"; however, the casting directors liked his audition as Dwight much more and hired him. Seth Rogen, Matt Besser, Patton Oswalt and Judah Friedlander also auditioned for the role.[31]

John Krasinski (left) and Jenna Fischer (right) were virtually unknown before the series aired.

John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer were virtual unknowns before being cast in their respective roles as Jim and Pam, the central love interests. Krasinski had attended school with, and was a friend of B. J. Novak.[32][33] Fischer prepared for her audition by looking as boring as possible, creating the original Pam hairstyle.[34] In an interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Fischer recalled the last stages of the audition process for Pam and Jim, with the producers partnering the different potential Pams and Jims (four of each) together to gauge their chemistry. When Fischer finished her scene with Krasinski, he told her that she was his favorite Pam, to which she reciprocated that he was her favorite Jim.[27] Adam Scott and John Cho both auditioned for the role of Jim and Kathryn Hahn also auditioned for the of role Pam.[35]

The supporting cast includes actors known for their improv work: Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery, Oscar Nunez, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Melora Hardin, and David Denman.[36] Kinsey had originally auditioned for Pam. The producers thought she was "too feisty" for the character, but they called her back for the part of Angela Martin, which she won.[37] Flannery first auditioned for the part of Jan Levinson-Gould, before landing the role of Meredith Palmer.[38] Baumgartner originally auditioned for Stanley, but was eventually cast as Kevin.[39] Ken Kwapis, the director of the pilot episode, liked the way Phyllis Smith, a casting associate, read with other actors auditioning so much that he cast her as Phyllis.[40] At the beginning of the third season, Ed Helms and Rashida Jones joined the cast as members of Dunder Mifflin Stamford. While Jones would later leave the cast for a role on Parks and Recreation, in February 2007, NBC announced that Helms was being promoted to a series regular.[41]

Four of the show's writers have also performed in front of the camera. B. J. Novak was cast as reluctant temp Ryan Howard after Daniels saw his stand-up act. Paul Lieberstein was cast as human resources director Toby Flenderson on Novak's suggestion after his cold readings of scripts.[36] Greg Daniels was originally unsure where to use Mindy Kaling on-screen in the series until the opportunity came in the second episode's script, where Michael needed to be slapped by a minority. "Since [that slap], I've been on the show" (as Kelly Kapoor), says Kaling.[40] Michael Schur has also made occasional appearances as Dwight's cousin Mose, and consulting producer Larry Wilmore has played diversity trainer Mr. Brown. Plans were made for Mackenzie Crook, Martin Freeman, and Lucy Davis, from the British version of The Office, to appear in the third season,[42] but those plans were scrapped due to scheduling conflicts.[43][44]

Filming[edit]

Dunder Mifflin company logo

The Office was filmed with a single-camera setup in a cinéma vérité style simulating the look of an actual documentary, with no studio audience or laugh track, allowing for its "deadpan" and "absurd" humor to fully come across.[45] The primary vehicle for the show is that a camera crew has decided to film Dunder Mifflin and its employees, seemingly around the clock.[45] The presence of the camera is acknowledged by the characters, especially Michael Scott, who enthusiastically participates in the filming.[46] The characters, especially Jim and Pam, also look towards the camera when Michael creates an awkward situation.[27] The main action of the show is supplemented with talking-head interviews or "confessionals", with the characters speaking one on one with the camera crew about the day's events.[27]

In order to get the feel of an actual documentary the producers hired cinematographer Randall Einhorn who is known for directing episodes of Survivor, which allowed the show to have the feel of "rough and jumpy" like an actual documentary.[46] According to producer Michael Schur, the producers to the series would follow the documentary format strictly.[47] The producers would have long discussions over whether a scene could work under the documentary format.[47] For example, in the fourth season episode "Did I Stutter?" a scene would feature Michael going through a long process to go to the bathroom and not pass by Stanley. The producers debated whether that was possible and Einhorn walked through the whole scene in order to see if a camera man could get to all these places in time to shoot the whole scene.[47] Despite the strict nature in the early years of the series, recent seasons seem to have loosened the rules on the format, with the camera crew often going into places actual documentary crews wouldn't, which has also changed the writing and comedy-style of the series.[48] This inconsistency has received criticism from critics and fans.[48][49]

Music[edit]

The song was written by Jay Ferguson and performed by The Scrantones.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The theme song for The Office was written by Jay Ferguson and performed by The Scrantones.[50] It is played over the title sequence, which features scenes of Scranton, various tasks around the office and often the main cast members. Some episodes of the series use a shortened version of the theme song. Starting with the fourth season, the theme song is played over the closing credits, which previously rolled in silence. The exteriors of buildings in the title sequence are actual buildings in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and were shot by cast member John Krasinski.[51] The mockumentary format of the show contains no laugh track, and most of the music is diegetic, with songs either sung or played by the characters or heard on radios, computers, or other devices.[52] However, songs have been played during montages or the closing credits, such as "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John ("The Dundies") and "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton ("E-mail Surveillance").[22] Featured music tends to be well known, and often songs reflect the character, such as Michael's attempt to seem hip by using "Mambo No. 5" and later "My Humps" as his cell phone ringtone.[52] Daniels has said that it doesn't count as film score as long as it already appeared in the episode.[22]

Characters[edit]

Further information: The Office § Counterparts
Character Portrayed by Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Michael Scott Steve Carell Main Guest
Dwight Schrute Rainn Wilson Main
Jim Halpert John Krasinski Main
Pam Beesly Jenna Fischer Main
Ryan Howard B. J. Novak Main Guest
Jan Levinson Melora Hardin Recurring Supporting Main Guest Guest
Roy Anderson David Denman Recurring Supporting Main Guest Guest
Stanley Hudson Leslie David Baker Recurring Supporting Main
Kevin Malone Brian Baumgartner Recurring Supporting Main
Meredith Palmer Kate Flannery Recurring Supporting Main
Angela Martin Angela Kinsey Recurring Supporting Main
Oscar Martinez Oscar Nunez Recurring Supporting Main
Phyllis Lapin Phyllis Smith Recurring Supporting Main
Toby Flenderson Paul Lieberstein Recurring Supporting Main
Kelly Kapoor Mindy Kaling Recurring Supporting Main Guest
Creed Bratton Creed Bratton Recurring Supporting Main
Darryl Philbin Craig Robinson Recurring Supporting Main
Andy Bernard Ed Helms Supporting Main Main
Erin Hannon Ellie Kemper Recurring Supporting Main
Gabe Lewis Zach Woods Recurring Supporting Main Guest
Amy Ryan Holly Flax Guest Recurring Supporting Main
Robert California James Spader Guest Main
Nellie Bertram Catherine Tate Guest Supporting Main
Clark Green Clark Duke Supporting Main
Pete Miller Jake Lacy Supporting Main
The Office cast in the third season

The Office employs an ensemble cast. Many characters portrayed by The Office cast are based on the British version of the show. While these characters normally have the same attitude and perceptions as their British counterparts, the roles have been redesigned to better fit the American show. The show is known for its generally large cast size, with many of its actors and actresses known particularly for their improvisational work. Steve Carell stars as Michael Scott, Regional Manager of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch. Loosely based on David Brent, Gervais' character in the British version, Scott is a well-intentioned man whose attempts at humor, while seemingly innocent to himself, often offend his peers and employees, and in some situations lead to reprimanding from his superiors. Rainn Wilson portrays Dwight Schrute, who, based upon Gareth Keenan, is a salesman and the Assistant to the Regional Manager, a fictional title created by Michael.[53] John Krasinski portrays Jim Halpert, a salesman and, in later seasons, co-manager who is often known for his wittiness and his hijinks on Schrute (often accompanied by Pam Beesly). Halpert is based upon Tim Canterbury, and is known to have feelings for Pam, the receptionist.[54] Pam, played by Jenna Fischer, is based on Dawn Tinsley. She is shy, but in many cases a cohort with Jim in his pranks on Dwight.[55] B. J. Novak portrays Ryan Howard, who for the first two seasons is a temporary worker, but is promoted to sales representative in the third season and later ascends to the position of Vice President, North East Region and Director of New Media until his treachery was exposed for corporate fraud and he was fired, ending up again as the temporary worker at the Scranton branch.[56]

The accounting department features Angela Martin, an admitted uptight and often hypocritical Christian who wishes to keep things orderly and make sure situations remain as serious as possible; Kevin Malone, a lovable, but dim-witted man who revels in juvenile humor and frequently indulges himself with gambling and M&Ms; and Oscar Martinez is intelligent but often patronising and whose homosexuality and Hispanic heritage made him a favorite target for Michael's unintentional off-color comments. Rounding out the office are the stern salesman Stanley Hudson, who barely stood for Michael's constant references to his Black-American heritage (he also doesn't like to take part in time wasting meetings and sometimes sleeps in them or works crossword puzzles); eccentric quality assurance representative Creed Bratton; the kind and caring saleswoman Phyllis Lapin-Vance, who marries Bob Vance from Vance Refrigeration across the hall from the office; Andy Bernard is a salesman introduced in season three after the closing of the Stamford, Connecticut branch of Dunder Mifflin and the merging of the two; the bubbly and talkative customer service representative Kelly Kapoor; the promiscuous alcoholic supply relations representative Meredith Palmer; human resources representative Toby Flenderson, who is admittedly hated by, and often the target of abuse by Michael Scott; warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin; Warehouse dock worker and Pam's ex-fiancé Roy Anderson, who was fired in the third season; and Michael's former love interest and former Vice President for Regional Sales for Dunder Mifflin Jan Levinson (Jan Levinson-Gould until her divorce in season 2).

Toward the end of season five, bubbly and naive new receptionist Erin Hannon is introduced as Pam's replacement. A story arc at the end of season four has Holly Flax transferred to the office as Toby's replacement. She acts as a love interest for Michael, as they share very similar personalities. Jo Bennett is the CEO of Sabre and Gabe Lewis, introduced in the middle of season six, is a Sabre employee who is assigned to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch as the Regional Director of Sales. In season nine Clark Green and Pete Miller joined as two new customer service representatives to attempt to catch up on the ignored customer services complaints that Kelly had dismissed while she worked at Dunder Mifflin.

Initially the actors who portray the other office workers were credited as guest stars before they were named series regulars during the second season.[57] The show's large ensemble has been mainly praised by critics and led to the series winning two Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.[58] Carell was reportedly paid $175,000 per episode starting with the third season.[59] Krasinski and Fischer were paid around $20,000 for the beginning of the series.[59] Starting with the fourth season, the two started getting paid around $100,000 per episode.[59]

Season synopses[edit]

A typical episode for a half-hour time slot runs 20-and-a-half minutes.[60] The final episode of season two introduces the first of what would be several super-sized episodes that are approximately 28-minute running time for a 40-minute time slot.[61] Season three introduces the first of occasional hour-long episodes (approximately 42-minute running time; suitable for being shown as two separate normal episodes).[62]

Season 1[edit]

The first season consists of six episodes. The series begins by introducing the office's workers via a tour given by branch manager Michael Scott for both the camera crew and a first-day temp (Ryan Howard).[63] The audience learns salesman Jim Halpert has a crush on receptionist Pam Beesly (who helps him play pranks on co-worker Dwight Schrute), even though she is engaged to Roy (who works in the building's lower-level warehouse). News spreads throughout the office that Dunder Mifflin's corporate headquarters is planning to downsize an entire branch, leading to general anxiety, but Michael chooses to deny or downplay the realities of the situation in order to maintain employee morale.

Season 2[edit]

The second season is the series' first twenty-two episode season, and has its first 40-minute "super-sized" episode. Many workers seen in the background of the first season are developed into secondary characters, while the general threat of downsizing continues. Romantic relationships begin to develop between some of the characters. Michael spends the night with his boss Jan, in the wake of the latter's divorce, but does not sleep with her.[64] Dwight and Angela become romantically involved,[65] but keep the relationship a secret from everyone else. Kelly develops a crush on Ryan, and they start dating. When Roy sets a date for his wedding to Pam,[66] Jim grows depressed and considers transferring to the Stamford, Connecticut branch, but tells Pam in the season finale that he loves her, even though Pam still insists she will marry Roy. The two kiss, but Jim transfers to the Stamford branch soon after.[67]

Season 3[edit]

The third season consists of 25 half-hours of material, divided into 17 half-hour episodes, four 40-minute "super-sized" episodes, and two one-hour episodes. Jim briefly transfers to Stamford branch after Pam confirmed her commitment to Roy, before corporate is forced to merge the Stamford branch and staff into the Scranton branch.[68] Included in the transfer to Scranton are Karen Filippelli, with whom Jim has developed a relationship, and the anger-prone Andy Bernard. Pam is newly single after calling off her marriage and relationship to Roy prior to the merger, and Jim's unresolved feelings for her and new relationship with Karen lead to shifting tensions amongst the three. Meanwhile, Michael and Jan's relationship escalates which causes her to behave erratically on the job while Dwight and Angela continue their secret relationship. In the season's finale, Jim, Karen, and Michael interview for a corporate position that turns out to be Jan's, who is fired that day for poor performance. Jim wins and rejects the offer off-screen,[69] opting instead to return to Scranton without Karen and asks Pam out on a date, which she joyfully accepts. In the final scene, we learn Ryan has been awarded Jan's job due to his business school credentials.[70]

Season 4[edit]

NBC ordered a full fourth season of 30 half-hour episodes, but ended with only 19 due to a halt in production caused by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[71][72] The season consists of 9 half-hour episodes, and 5 hour-long episodes to comprise the 19 total episodes of material created.

Karen has left the Scranton branch after her breakup with Jim, and becomes regional manager at the Utica branch.[73] Pam and Jim date happily.[74] An unemployed Jan moves in with Michael, until the dissolution of their relationship midway through the season. After Dwight's crude (though well-intentioned) method of euthanasia of Angela's ailing cat without her permission,[75] she leaves him for Andy, leading Dwight into depression. Ryan, in his new corporate life in New York City, attempts to modernize Dunder Mifflin with a new website for online sales; he also learns that his boss, David Wallace, favors Jim, and thus Ryan attempts to sabotage Jim's career. Ryan is soon arrested and fired for committing fraud related to the website's sales numbers. Toby, embarrassed after accidentally revealing an affection for Pam, announces he is moving to Costa Rica, and is replaced by Holly Flax, who quickly shows fondness towards Michael. Pam decides to follow her artistic interests and attend a three-month graphic design course at the Pratt Institute in New York City. In the season finale Andy proposes to Angela, who reluctantly agrees. Phyllis then catches Dwight and Angela having sex in the office.[76]

Season 5[edit]

The fifth season consists of 28 half-hours of material, divided into 24 half-hour episodes and two hour-long episodes, one of which aired after Super Bowl XLIII.[77] Jim and Pam become engaged, and she ultimately returns from New York to Scranton, where Jim has bought his parents' house for the two of them. Having avoided jail and only been sentenced to community service, Ryan returns to Dunder Mifflin as a temp. Michael initiates a romance with Holly until she is transferred to the Nashua, New Hampshire branch and the relationship ends. When Andy is made aware of Dwight and Angela's continued affair, both men leave her.[78] Newly hired Vice President Charles Miner implements a rigid managerial style over the branch that causes Michael to resign in protest.[79] Michael opens the Michael Scott Paper Company, enticing Pam and Ryan to join as salespeople, and though his business model is ultimately unsustainable, Dunder Mifflin's profits are immediately threatened.[80] In a buyout of the Michael Scott Paper Company, the three are rehired with Pam promoted to sales and Ryan returning as a temp. During the chaos, new receptionist Erin is hired to fill the vacancy originally left by Pam. The season's finale ends with a cliffhanger ending hinting that Pam might be pregnant.[81]

Season 6[edit]

The sixth season consists of 26 half-hours of material, divided into 22 half-hour episodes and two hour-long episodes. Jim and Pam marry and have a baby named Cecelia Marie Halpert.[82] Meanwhile, Andy and Erin develop mutual interest in one another, but find their inherent awkwardness inhibits his attempts to ask her out on a date. Rumors of bankruptcy begin to surround Dunder Mifflin. By Christmas, Wallace announces to the branch that Dunder Mifflin has accepted a buyout from Sabre Corporation, a printer company. While Wallace and other executives are let go, the Scranton office survives due to its relative success within the company. In the season finale, Dwight buys the office park. Michael agrees to make an announcement to the press regarding a case of faulty printers. When Jo Bennet, Sabre CEO, asks how she can repay him, Michael responds that she could bring Holly back to the Scranton branch.[83]

Season 7[edit]

The seventh season consists of 26 half-hours of material, divided into 21 half-hour episodes, one "super-sized" episode, and two hour-long episodes.[84] This is the final season for Steve Carell, who plays the lead character Michael Scott, as Carell wanted to move on after his contract expired during this season.[2] Beginning with this season, Zach Woods, who portrays Gabe Lewis, was promoted to a series regular.[85] Erin and Gabe have begun a relationship, much to Andy's chagrin, and he attempts to win her affection back. Michael's former girlfriend, Holly returns to Scranton to fill in for Toby who is doing jury duty for the "Scranton Strangler" trial. Michael and Holly eventually restart their relationship. After the two get engaged, he then reveals he will be leaving Scranton to go to Colorado with Holly in order to support her elderly parents. After Michael's replacement (Will Ferrell) is seriously injured, Jo creates a search committee to interview candidates and choose a new manager for the office.

Season 8[edit]

The eighth season consists of 24 episodes. James Spader reprises his role as Robert California, the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin/Sabre.[86] Andy is then promoted to Regional Manager and works hard to make a good impression on Robert, and asks Dwight to be his number two.[87] Pam and Jim are expecting their second child, Phillip, at the start of the season, to coincide with Fischer's real life pregnancy.[88] Angela is pregnant with her first son, also named Philip, with Sen. Robert Lipton (although it is implied that Dwight Schrute is actually the child's biological father). Darryl starts falling for new warehouse worker Val.[89] Dwight is tasked with traveling to Tallahassee, Florida in order to assist Sabre Special Projects Manager Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) in launching a chain of retail stores, along with Jim, Ryan, Stanley, Erin, and new office temp Cathy Simms. Cathy is also revealed to have ulterior motives for the trip, as she intends to seduce Jim, but fails.[90] Robert later kills the retail store project, and Erin decides to stay in Florida as an elderly woman's live-in helper. Andy goes to Florida and wins back Erin, but this allows Nellie to claim the manager position as her own. Robert tells Andy that he has been demoted back to a salesman, but he refuses to accept the news, which causes him to be fired. Andy becomes motivated to begin a Dunder Mifflin comeback and joins with former CFO, David Wallace, to buy Dunder Mifflin back from Sabre putting Sabre completely out of business and giving Andy the manager position once again.

Season 9[edit]

The final season consists of 25 episodes. Andy, recently returning from Outward Bound manager's training, reverts to his arrogant earlier season personality, abandoning both Erin and the office to travel the world with his brother. In his absence, Erin strikes up a romance with new customer service rep Pete, who along with Clark, another new character, replaces Kelly, who left for Ohio with her new husband (Ryan also moves to Ohio for "unrelated reasons"). Meanwhile, Jim receives an exciting opportunity from an old college friend, who offers him a job at Athlead, a sports marketing company based in Philadelphia. Darryl also jumps on board, but the distance and dedication to Athlead hurts Jim's relationship with Pam. Angela also must deal with her husband's infidelity with Oscar. She also deals with her lingering attraction to Dwight, who inherits his family's beet farm. Dwight receives more good news when David Wallace handpicks him to be the new manager after Andy quits to pursue an acting career, which quickly ends when he embarrasses himself at an a cappella singing competition that turns into a viral web sensation. Dwight later makes Jim his Assistant to the Regional Manager and the two officially end their grudge. After Jim reconciles with Pam, choosing to stay in Scranton over Philadelphia, Dwight professes his love for Angela, and finally marries her. In the series finale, taking place one year after the release of the documentary, the employees reunite for Dwight and Angela's wedding, for which Michael returns (with help from Jim who was the person Dwight first asked to be his best man) to serve as the best man. Kelly and Ryan run away together, Nellie now lives in Poland and "adopts" Ryan's abandoned baby, Erin meets her birth parents, Andy gets a job at Cornell, Stanley retires to Florida, Kevin and Toby are both fired with the former buying a bar and the latter moving to New York City to become an author, Oscar runs for State Senate, Jim and Pam, at her persuasion, move to Austin to open a new branch of Athleap (previously Athlead) with Darryl (Dwight "fires" them to give them both severance packages), and Creed is arrested for his many crimes.

Product placement[edit]

The Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company tower, shown during the opening credits.

The Office has had product placement deals with Staples[91] and the Olympic baler,[92] as well as mentioning in dialogue or displaying clear logos for products such as Sandals Resorts, HP, Apple, and Gateway computers, and Activision's Call of Duty video game series. In "The Merger", Kevin Malone uses a Staples-branded shredding machine to shred a Staples-branded CD-R and many other non-paper items, including a salad.[91] As with HP, Cisco Systems, a supplier of networking and telephone equipment, pays for product placement, which can be seen on close-up shots of the Cisco IP Telephones. Some products have additional branding labels attached; this can be clearly seen with the HP photo printer on Toby's desk in season 6, and is less noticeable with the Cisco phones.[93] In "The Secret" Michael takes Jim to Hooters[94] to discuss Jim's feelings for Pam.

Many products featured are not part of product placement agreements, but rather inserted by writers as products the characters would use to create realism under the guise of a documentary. Chili's restaurants were used for filming in "The Dundies" and "The Client", as the writers believed they were realistic choices for a company party and business lunch.[95][96][97] Though not an explicit product placement, the producers of the show had to allow Chili's to have final approval of the script before filming, causing a scene of "The Dundies" to be hastily rewritten when the chain objected to the original version.[96] Apple Inc. received over four minutes of publicity for the iPod when it was used as a much-desired gift in "Christmas Party", though the company did not pay for the placement.[98] The travel website TripAdvisor.com was featured during Season 4 when after a visit to Dwight's "agritourism" bed and breakfast, Schrute Farm, Jim and Pam post an online review about their stay. The show reportedly approached the travel review website about using their name on the show and TripAdvisor set up a review page for the fictional B&B which itself received hundreds of reviews.[99] The appearance of Second Life in the episode "Local Ad" was rated eighth in the top ten most effective product placements of 2007.[100]

Reception[edit]

Critical reviews and commentary[edit]

"The Office has one of the best casts on television. [...] It also has created several compelling characters and touching relationships, all of which is fairly remarkable for a half hour comedy."

—Travis Fickett of IGN in June 2007[101]

Before the show aired, Gervais acknowledged that there were feelings of hesitation from certain viewers.[102] The first season of The Office was met with a mixed response from critics with some of them comparing it to the short-lived NBC series Coupling which was based on a British version.[103][104] The New York Daily News called it "so diluted there's little left but muddy water," and USA Today called it a "passable imitation of a miles-better BBC original."[105] A Guardian Unlimited review panned its lack of originality, stating, "(Steve Carell) just seems to be trying too hard ... Maybe in later episodes when it deviates from Gervais and Merchant's script, he'll come into his own. But right now he's a pale imitation."[106] Tom Shales of the Washington Post said it was "not the mishmash that [Americanized version of Coupling] turned out to be, but again the quality of the original show causes the remake to look dim, like when the copying machine is just about to give out."[104]

The second season was better received. James Poniewozik of Time remarked, "Producer Greg Daniels created not a copy but an interpretation that sends up distinctly American work conventions [...] with a tone that's more satiric and less mordant. [...] The new boss is different from the old boss, and that's fine by me."[107] He named it the second best TV show of 2006 after Battlestar Galactica.[107] Entertainment Weekly writer Mark Harris echoed these sentiments a week later, stating, "Thanks to the fearless Steve Carell, an ever-stronger supporting cast, and scripts that spew American corporate absurdist vernacular with perfect pitch, this undervalued remake does the near impossible—it honors Ricky Gervais' original and works on its own terms."[108] The A.V. Club reviewer Nathan Rabin expressed its views on the show's progression: "After a rocky start, The Office improved immeasurably, instantly becoming one of TV's funniest, sharpest shows. The casting of Steve Carell in the Gervais role proved to be a masterstroke. The American Office is that rarest of anomalies: a remake of a classic show that both does right by its source and carves out its own strong identity."[109]

The series has been included on several top TV series lists. The show placed #61 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.[110] Time's James Poniewozik named it the second best TV series of 2006,[107] and the sixth best returning series of 2007, out of ten TV series.[111] He also included it on his "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME" list.[112] The show was also named the best show of 2006 by BuddyTV.[113] while Paste named it the sixth best sitcom of 2010.[114] In 2013, the Writers Guild of America placed it at #66 on their list of 101 Best Written TV Series.[115]

The show has some superficial similarities to the comic-strip Dilbert, which also features employees coping with an inept superior. John Spector, CEO of The Conference Board, says that both show the impact a leader can have, for good or bad. Dilbert creator Scott Adams also touts the similarities: "The lesson from The Office and from Dilbert is that people are often dysfunctional, and no amount of training can fix it."[116] A labor-affiliated group praised the episode "Boys and Girls" for what it considered an unusually frank depiction of union busting on American television.[117] Metacritic, a review aggregation website, only graded the first, third, sixth, and final seasons. However, it denoted that all four of them received "generally favorable reviews" from critics, awarding a 61, 85, 78, and 64 score—out of 100—to each of them, respectively.[118][119][120][121] It later named it the thirteenth most mentioned series on "Best of Decade" top-ten lists.[122]

"'The Office' now is a pale, listless shadow of what it used to be."

Alan Sepinwall of HitFix in September 2011[123]

Recent seasons have been criticized for a dip in quality. The sixth season received criticisms for a lack of stakes for the characters.[124][125][126] Several critics and fans have also criticized the dragging out of the Jim and Pam romance.[127] The Office co-creator Ricky Gervais wrote in his blog, referring to "Search Committee" particularly Warren Buffett's guest appearance, "If you're going to jump a shark, jump a big one." and compared the episode to the Chris Martin episode of Gervais's other series, Extras.[13] He later said "I fucking didn't [diss The Office], that's for sure".[13] Some critics said the series should have ended after the departure of Steve Carell.[128][129] Rainn Wilson felt that the eighth season possessed some mistakes "creatively", such as the chemistry between Spader and Helms, which he called "a bit dark" and argued that the show should have gone for a "brighter and more energized" relationship.[130] Despite this, there are later-series episodes that have received critical acclaim, including "Stress Relief", "Niagara", "Garage Sale", "Goodbye, Michael", "Dwight Christmas", "A.A.R.M.", and "Finale".[131][132][133][134][135][136][137]

Awards[edit]

The series received 42 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, with five wins.[138] It won for Outstanding Comedy Series in season two, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Greg Daniels for "Gay Witch Hunt"), Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Jeffrey Blitz for "Stress Relief") and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (David Rogers and Claire Scanlon for "Finale". Many cast and crew members have expressed anger that Carell did not receive an Emmy award for his performance in the series.[139][140] Despite this, Carell won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical in 2006. The series has also been named the best TV series by the American Film Institute in 2006 and 2008[141][142] and won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2006 and 2007.[58]

Ratings[edit]

Premiering on Thursday, March 24, 2005, after an episode of The Apprentice on NBC, The Office brought in 11.2 million viewers in the U.S., winning its time slot.[105] When NBC moved the series to its intended Tuesday night slot, it lost nearly half its audience with only 5.9 million viewers.[143] The program averaged 5.4 million viewers, ranking it #102 for the 2004–05 U.S. television season.[144] "Hot Girl", the first season's finale, rated a 2.2 with a 10 audience measurement share. Episodes were also rerun on CNBC.[145]

As the second season started, the success of Carell's hit summer movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin and online sales of episodes at iTunes helped the show.[146] The increase in viewership led NBC to move the series to the "Must See TV" Thursday night in January 2006, where ratings continued to grow. By the 2005–06 season, it placed #67 (tied with 20/20). It averaged 8 million viewers with a 4.0/10 rating/share among viewers ages 18–49, and was up 80% in viewers from the year before and up 60% in viewers ages 18–49.[147] The series ranked as NBC's highest rated scripted series during its run.[148] The highest rated episode of the series was "Stress Relief", which was watched by 22.9 million viewers, because of the episode airing right after Super Bowl XLIII.[149] While later seasons dropped in the ratings, the show was still one of NBC's highest rated shows and in October 2011 it was reported that it cost $178,840 per-30 second commercial, the most for any NBC scripted series.[150]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

Season Timeslot (ET) Premiered Ended Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere
Viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale
Viewers
(in millions)
1 Thursday 9:30 pm ("Pilot")
Tuesday 9:30 pm
March 24, 2005 11.20[151] April 26, 2005 4.80[151] 102nd[152] 5.4[152]
2 Tuesday 9:30 pm
(September 20 – December 6, 2005)
Thursday 9:30 pm
(January 5 – May 11, 2006)
September 20, 2005 9.00[151] May 11, 2006 7.70[151] 67th[153] 8.0[153]
3 Thursday 8:30 pm September 21, 2006 9.10[151] May 17, 2007 7.90[151] 68th[154] 8.3[154]
4 Thursday 9:00 pm September 27, 2007 9.70[151] May 15, 2008 8.07[151] 77th[155] 8.0[155]
5 September 25, 2008 9.20[156] May 14, 2009 6.72[157] 52nd[158] 9.0[158]
6 September 17, 2009 8.20[159] May 20, 2010 6.60[160] 52nd[161] 7.8[161]
7 September 23, 2010 8.40[162] May 19, 2011 7.29[163] 53rd[164] 7.7[164]
8 September 22, 2011 7.64[165] May 10, 2012 4.49[166] 87th[167] 6.5[167]
9 September 20, 2012 4.28[168] May 16, 2013 5.69[169] 94th[170] 5.1[170]

Cultural impact[edit]

Dunder Mifflin banner in front of Scranton City Hall

The city of Scranton, long known mainly for its industrial past as a coal mining and rail center,[171] has eagerly embraced, and ultimately has been redefined by the show. "We're really hip now," says the mayor's assistant.[51] The Dunder Mifflin logo is on a lamppost banner in front of Scranton City Hall, as well as the pedestrian bridge to The Mall at Steamtown. The Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company, whose tower is shown in the opening credits, plans to add it to the tower as well.[172] Newspapers in other Northeastern cities have published travel guides to Scranton locations for tourists interested in visiting places mentioned in the show.[171][172][173] Scranton has become identified with the show outside the United States as well. In a 2008 St. Patrick's Day speech in its suburb of Dickson City, former Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Bertie Ahern identified the city as the home of Dunder Mifflin.[174]

Atrium of the Mall at Steamtown during convention

The inaugural The Office convention was held downtown in October 2007. Notable landmarks, some of which have been settings for the show, that served as venues include the University of Scranton, the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel and the Mall at Steamtown. Cast appearances were made by B.J. Novak, Ed Helms, Oscar Nunez, Angela Kinsey, Brian Baumgartner, Leslie David Baker, Mindy Kaling, Craig Robinson, Melora Hardin, Phyllis Smith, Creed Bratton, Kate Flannery, Bobby Ray Shafer, and Andy Buckley. Writer appearances, besides Novak and Kaling, were made by Greg Daniels, Michael Schur, Jennifer Celotta, Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky, Justin Spitzer, Anthony Ferrell, Ryan Koh, Lester Lewis, and Jason Kessler. Not present were writer-actor Paul Lieberstein (who was originally going to make an appearance), Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, and Jenna Fischer.[175]

On an episode of The Daily Show, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, reportedly a devoted fan of the show, jokingly told Jon Stewart he might take Dwight Schrute as his running mate.[176] Rainn Wilson later accepted on Dwight Schrute's behalf while on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. After the airing of "Garage Sale", Colorado governor John Hickenlooper issued a press release appointing Michael Scott to the position of Director of Paper Distribution in the Department of Natural Resources.[177]

The show is often paid tribute to by the band Relient K. Band member Matt Thiessen is a fan of The Office, and, during concerts, will often perform a self-described "love song" about the series, titled "The Ballad of Dunder Mifflin", followed by him and the band playing the show's opening theme.[178]

International broadcasts[edit]

Aside from NBC, The Office has gone into off-network syndication in the United States. It has reruns on local stations and TBS. In the United Kingdom, the show was named in listings magazines (but not onscreen) as The Office: An American Workplace when it was originally aired on ITV2.[179] This is done to differentiate this version of the show from the original British series.[179]

Other media[edit]

Online releases[edit]

Episodes from The Office were among the first shows available for download from the iTunes Store beginning in December 2005. In 2006, ten internet-exclusive webisodes featuring some of the characters on The Office aired on NBC.com. "Producer's Cuts" (containing approximately ten additional minutes of material) of the episodes "Branch Closing" and "The Return" were also made available on NBC.com. The Office also became available for download from Amazon.com's Unbox video downloads in 2006. Sales of new The Office episodes on iTunes ceased in 2007 due to a dispute between NBC and Apple ostensibly over pricing.[180] As of September 9, 2008 The Office was put back on the iTunes Store, and can be bought in HD and Regular format. Netflix also offers the show for online viewing by subscribers, in addition to traditional DVD rental. The Office is also available on Microsofts Zune Marketplace.

Of the 12.4 million total viewings of "Fun Run", the fourth season's premiere, 2.7 million, or 22%, were on a computer via online streaming. "The Office," said The New York Times, "is on the leading edge of a sharp shift in entertainment viewing that was thought to be years away: watching television episodes on a computer screen is now a common activity for millions of consumers." It was particularly popular with online viewers, an NBC researcher said, because as an episode-driven sitcom without special effects it was easy to watch on smaller monitors such as those found on laptops and iPods.[181] Between the online viewings and those who use digital video recorders, 25–50% of the show's viewers watch it after its scheduled airtime.[182]

The show's Internet success became an issue in the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Daniels and many of the cast members who double as writers posted a video to YouTube shortly after the strike began, pointing out how little, if any, they received in residuals from online and DVD viewing. "You're watching this on the Internet, a thing that pays us zero dollars," Schur said. "We're supposed to get 11 cents for every two trillion downloads." The writers were particularly upset that they weren't compensated for the Daytime Emmy Award winning summer webisodes "The Accountants", which NBC considered promotional material despite the embedded commercials.[183]

Promotional[edit]

The show's success has resulted in expansion outside of television. Characters have appeared in promotional materials for NBC, and a licensed video game—The Office—was released in 2007.[184][185] In 2008 two games were introduced via Pressman Toy Corp: The Office Trivia Board Game and The Office DVD Board Game.[186] In 2009, The Office Clue was released, and The Office Monopoly was released in 2010. Other merchandise, from T-shirts and a bobblehead doll of Dwight Schrute[187] to more office-specific items such as Dunder Mifflin copy paper[188] and parodies of the Successories motivational poster series featuring the cast[189] are available. Dunder Mifflin has two websites,[190] and the cast members maintain blogs both as themselves and in character.

Cast blogs[edit]

Several members of the cast maintained blogs. These include Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, and Brian Baumgartner, who posted regularly during the season.[191] Rainn Wilson wrote in character on "Schrute Space" on NBC.com, which is updated periodically. However, he stopped writing the blog himself.[192] It is unknown whether Creed Bratton authors "Creed Thoughts", the blog attributed to his character.[193]

Home video releases[edit]

Season Region 1 release date Region 2 release date Region 4 release date Episodes Discs Bonus features
1 August 16, 2005 April 10, 2006 August 16, 2006 6 1 Deleted scenes from all episodes, five commentary tracks by cast and crew on select episodes.
2 September 12, 2006 January 28, 2008 April 4, 2007 22 4 Deleted scenes from every episode, ten commentary tracks by cast and crew on select episodes, The Accountants webisodes, Faces of Scranton video, blooper reel, 17 fake public service announcements, Olympics promos and "Steve on Steve" promos.
3 September 4, 2007 July 21, 2008 August 20, 2008 (Part 1)
April 22, 2009 (Part 2)
25 4 Deleted scenes, eight commentary tracks by cast and crew on select episodes,[194] "Kevin Cooks Stuff in The Office", 2006 NBC Primetime Preview, Toby wraparound promos, Dwight Schrute music video, Joss Whedon interview, blooper reel, Lazy Scranton video, and a 58th Annual Emmy Awards excerpt. A special edition for Target called the "Nifty Gifty" set also contains footage from the Museum of TV festival and script facsimile.
4 September 2, 2008 June 14, 2010 September 2, 2009 (Part 1)
December 2, 2009 (Part 2)
19 4 Deleted scenes, outtakes, Second Life footage, The Office Convention invitation, The Office Convention: Writer’s Block Panel, "Goodbye, Toby" music video, four commentary tracks by cast and crew on select episodes.[195]
5 September 8, 2009 February 7, 2011 September 29, 2010 (Part 1)
March 2, 2011 (Part 2)
28 5 Deleted scenes, outtakes, ten commentaries by the cast and crew, "The Academy of Art and Sciences presents, 'The Office,' Summer Olympic promos, Super Bowl promos, Kevin's Loan webisodes, and The Outburst webisodes.[196]
6 September 7, 2010 January 30, 2012 August 4, 2011 (Part 1)
November 9, 2011 (Part 2)
26 5 Deleted scenes, outtakes, gag reel, cast and crew commentaries, two extended episodes, minisode The Podcast, "Welcome to Sabre" corporate welcome video, promos.[197]
Overtime November 16, 2010 N/A N/A N/A 1 The Accountants, Kevin's Loan, The Outburst, Blackmail, Subtle Sexuality and The Mentor webisodes, The Podcast minisode, The Office Convention: Cast Q&A, Paley: Inside The Writer's Room, Subtle Sexuality commentary with Mindy Kaling, B. J. Novak, and Ellie Kemper, Blackmail video commentary with Creed Bratton, Subtle Sexuality music video, Dwight Schrute music video, Lazy Scranton video, Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin ad and fake PSAs.[198]
7 September 6, 2011 September 3, 2012 August 22, 2012 (Part 1)
November 7, 2012 (Part 2)
26 5 Deleted scenes, blooper reel, "The Third Floor" webisodes, cast and crew commentaries on five episodes, producer's extended cuts of "Training Day" and "Search Committee," Threat Level Midnight: The Movie (A Michael Scott Joint)
8 September 4, 2012 April 7, 2014 February 13, 2013 (Part 1)
August 8, 2013 (Part 2)
24 5 Deleted scenes, blooper reel, "The Girl Next Door" webisodes, producer's extended cuts of "Angry Andy" and "Fundraiser"
9 September 3, 2013[199] September 15, 2014 February 13, 2014 (Part 1)
June 19, 2014 (Part 2)
25 5 Deleted scenes, gag reel, rare audition footage

Proposed spin-offs[edit]

A spin-off to the series was proposed in 2008,[200] with a pilot episode expected to debut as the Super Bowl lead-out program in 2009.[201] However, The Office's creative team instead decided to develop Parks and Recreation as a separate series.[202]

Another spin-off starring Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute running a bed-and-breakfast and beet farm, titled The Farm was proposed in early 2012.[6][203] In October 2012, however, NBC decided not to go forward with the series.[204] The backdoor pilot episode instead aired as part of the ninth and final season of The Office on March 14, 2013.[203][205]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]


Preceded by
House
2008
The Office
Super Bowl lead-out program
2009
Succeeded by
Undercover Boss
2010