It’s not official, but it looks as if NBC will go with The Office for a ninth – and probably final – season. But there’s still the business of wrapping up season eight, which is best described as inconsistent. It’s always good to end on a high note. The Office did no such thing with “Free Family Portrait Studio”. There’s a few laughs and sweet moments, but still another mediocre episode from a mostly mediocre season. Even with all the negatives, the show deserves one last season to make it all okay.

Check out our full review below…

The Players:

  • Director: B.J. Novak
  • Writers: B.J. Novak
  • Cast: Rainn Wilson, c, James Spader, B.J. Novak, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson, Phyllis Smith

Episode Title: “Free Family Portrait Studio”

Andy returns with a secret plan while Dwight tries to steal a DNA sample to prove the paternity of Angela’s baby.

The Good:

  • Goodbye RC: Many of us are bummed that James Spader and his sexed-up, booze-loving Robert California will not be back next season. His exit strategy was pretty awesome, considering he gets to chill with hot gymnast-babes from eastern Europe. He brought some great moments to season eight. Thanks RC.
  • Darryl: It took the entire season for me to give a damn about Darryl and his storyline with Val, but in the end, the very end, they wrapped it up nicely – funny and sweet.
  • Jim: “What was that accent?” Aside from Jim’s facial expressions during the photo shoot, this line regarding Andy’s odd behavior was the highlight.
  • David Wallace: Looks like he’s back. Let’s hope he gets more screen time next season.
  • Nellie: The much-maligned Nellie had a great line to Gabe: “Get out skeleton Man!”
  • Toby: “Do you see David Wallace in the room right now?” That line directed at Andy provided a chuckle.
  • Angela/Dwight: The hand-holding at the close was very sweet. That’s good because everything leading up to it mostly sucked.
  • Mose: The appearance of Mose is terrific, haircut included. But watching Mose run away from Angela was an even better treat. Might have been worth it to just show five minutes of Mose running around.
  • Goodbye Kelly: With Mindy Kaling’s show getting picked up by Fox, it’s so long to Kelly. We’ll see how they deal with her absence next season.
  • Ryan: The Ryan signs during the photo shoot were definite highlights.

The Bad:

  • I Hate You Ed Helms: Not really. But Andy is now a tiresome character. It looks as if Helms is returning for next season, and let’s hope something can be done to make his character be less annoying and terrible. Also, his relationship with Erin is boring. It’s not as if they don’t make a good couple, but hopefully there is something to be done to spice it up.
  • The Entire Episode in General: Yes, there were some humorous moments, but the whole show felt stiff. There was no rhythm, just a couple funny lines of dialogue sprinkled throughout.

Overall:

And so we close the books on season eight. The transition season can finally be put to bed. There was good comedy throughout the season, but my goodness the show felt clunky from start to finish. Many viewers were probably counting the seconds until “Free Family Portrait Studio” ended.

Unless there is a massive shake-up at the last minute, it looks as if the show goes on, now with new management and…. what? Where do they go from here? David Wallace is scooping up Dunder Mifflin from the wreckage of Sabre, Andy is back as manager, and….?

There’s lots of talk about a clearing of the decks on the show and starting fresh next season. Looks like Jenna Fischer, Helms, and John Krasinski are signed on for next year, which is good if you like those characters, but Rainn Wilson/Dwight is probably gone mid season with his spin-off, so it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here.

Many were hoping NBC would put the show out of its misery, but The Office deserves to have a last go at it, to make amends for what could be argued as a lost season, and finish the series on a high note.

There was good comedy in season eight. The ensemble is still first-class, even when the material is suffering, and the show can still be very funny when it wants to be. But the chuckles and laugh-out loud moments were few and far between.

Plenty of folks would be happy to see The Office wiped off the board for next season. They would have plenty of reasons after what we watched happen during season eight. But I’m happy a season nine is close to a reality – I have high hopes for a successful rebound!

 

Rating: 6/10

The Office airs on NBC at 9pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.

What did you think of last night’s episode?