Let's face it: television fans are a fickle bunch. While watching a particular series may be "must see TV" during the course of one season, that same series can be easily relegated down to a Netflix "wait" or an on-sale DVD release. When The Office lost Steve Carell toward the end of season 7, fans were appropriately concerned with what might happen to television's longtime comedy staple. Completely admitting that The Office has generally been hit-or-miss since its most famed seasons, one-time fans of the series should know that they're missing out on some absolutely wonderful television. Not only has The Office returned to its former glory with this past season, but it has also evolved itself in such a way that longtime viewers of the series might actually say that The Office season 8 is the best ever. And you know what? They may not be wrong. So as one Office fan to another, allow me to tell you why The Office has never been better – and why you should have another look.
A Comedic EnsembleWhen Steve Carell left The Office, fans were appropriately concerned about the future of the series. Unfortunately, the cavalcade of guest stars that appeared in season 7 didn't allow the remaining cast to stand on their own. From the start of season 8,the entire series ensemble, reacting like a well-oiled comedic machine, instantly relieved any and all reservations that one might have for the series' ability to continue. With each character providing more laughs than ever, the true depths of the series' comedy well was finally revealed.
Guest Stars ≠ Main StarsThe Office has had its fair share of guest stars in the past, and season 8 is no different. With many familiar faces appearing throughout the season, fans may flash back to Will Ferrell's less-than-stellar performance on the series. However, with James Spader and Catherine Tate providing much of this season's guest appearances, their inclusion was perfectly handled, and ultimately proved to hilariously supplement many of the core cast stories. That being said, both Spader and Tate are each given more than their fair share of moments to shine - and that's exactly what they do.
Andy BernardOne of the few new characters to join the original cast members, Andrew Bernard has always been able to bring the laughs on The Office. But as the new regional manager of Dunder Mifflin? Of course he's great! With similar qualities to Michael Scott, though uniquely his own character, it's hard not to fall in love with Andy all over again. Busting out tunes on his voicemail, as well as with his father, the Nard dog makes sure that the audience never once questions his ability to serve as the replacement to the World's Best (former) Boss, Michael Scott.
LocationsWhile locations have never been an issue with The Office, the continuous adventures outside of Dunder Mifflin during this season really helped keep the series energized throughout. This season takes the series to Robert Califnornia's house, out to trivia night with Oscar and his pals, down to Miami, as well as Gettysburg and Shrute Farms. While each location has its own great moments, The Office really shines when half of the cast heads to Miami. Presenting two independent storylines that only occasionally crossover, the true testament to the strength of this season is its ability to not only make each storyline as entertaining as the other, but to do so with only half of the cast.
The Halpert FamilyWhen a 30-minute comedy series takes on television's dreaded character coupling, bad things happen. Throw in a couple of children, and there's almost no chance of making it through. But that's exactly what The Office did - and then some. Somehow perfecting this sometimes dubbed "series killer," not only has Pam and Jim's relationship been more enjoyable than ever, we enjoy seeing them with two children - even more than just the one. Used only when it naturally fits within the story, Pam and Jim's family have become a wonderful supplemental nugget of entertainment - one that future series could learn from.
Jim & DwightOne of television's most hilarious rivalries, the adversarial relationship between Jim and Dwight has never been better than in The Office season 8. While there are more than enough pranks to keep everyone entertained, the truly enjoyable element of this season is watching Jim and Dwight's acknowledged respect for each other grow. Almost as endearing as watching Jim and Pam together, the many moments where Jim and Dwight end up working together this season not only shows the true strengths of characters that we've been watching for many years, but that they're so much more than simply bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica.
ConclusionYou can make the argument that, more often than not, when friends tell you how great a series has become it turns out not to be true. But, to be fair, your friends did not take the time to provide you this information in a slideshow presentation. I'm just saying… if Whitney really was that great, maybe they would have tried harder to tell you so. Or at least used visual aids. But they didn't. And do you know why? Because it's not true. Whitney isn't that great – but The Office is. It really is! So go check it out. … and if I'm wrong, you'll know never to trust a man with a slideshow. Which, if we're being honest, is probably a good rule to follow anyway.
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