The Office TCAs 2012: Paper Tiger
Leaving the comfort and security of a familiar work environment is all a little daunting, bittersweet, and scary, especially when the people you have worked with have become a big, crazy, extended family. This goes double for the folks at Dunder Mifflin, whose extended family includes a senile old man, a crazy cat lady, and a farm boy with a penchant for socialist order or civility. And yet despite it all, the folks of The Office are tapping into that sweetest of sorrows as they are parting from their ninth and final season of the show this year.
The TCA event this year was certainly loose and fun, even by The Office standards. Journalists were brought in to the warehouse section of the paper company set and enjoyed a quick meet and greet with talent before the official panel got under way. That panel was kicked off by house/show band Kevin and the Zits, the Ed Helms-fronted band which wooed the crowd with their awesomely dicey rendition of “When Doves Cry”. “We’re going on tour with Prince in the summer,” Ed Helms quipped.
While showrunner Gregg Daniels had little expectations for the show’s success, he admits that the denouement of the show has been swimming around for quite some time, “The basic idea for the last episode has been floating about since way back [around season two], but the specifics of getting there are changing,” he reveals, promising that that long-gestating idea will see the light of TV screens across the globe by the end of May.
As one could guess, reflection seems to be the theme of the season for cast and crew and it is clear that good times and gratitude are the embarrassment of The Office’s riches. “I think that this show is a gift and we all knew it from the beginning,” notes John Krasinski, “This is one of those jobs where you don’t wait until your time is over. You beg every single year to come back.”
Even show newcomers like Clark Duke understand the opportunity that has been afforded them, even in the show’s twilight, “It’s like coming onto the last season of Cheers or Seinfeld or something. I could not enjoy it more.”
It seems that everyone does enjoy The Office, even the cast, who love watching the show as fans and have their fair share of favorite episodes. Many are quick to pick “Dinner Party”, which seemed to put the absurdity of the show into overdrive, and the now-classic season three episode “Gay Witch Hunt” in which Oscar comes out to Michael and the hilarious, awkward inappropriateness of the show magnifies ten fold. Both Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer have a special fondness for “The Injury” in which Dwight falls on his head and he and Pam become friends. “I really love the episodes where Dwight and Pam become close. We just did another one and I realized that this is probably the last one of those stories,” she notes with a sigh.
Looking towards the immediate future of the show, Greg Daniels has returned to run the show after being off-and-on between producing duties on his other homerun child Parks and Rec. “It was very important [to come back],” he says, “I hadn’t been on full time in years and I have a very strong connection with everyone. It’s very emotional to be sure, but even fond memories only go so far, “It’s really hard to run a show, so if you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, stay here until 11:00 pm every night for six months, then you won’t feel as bad!”
At this time, the show has about ten episodes left to break, so there are still a handful of months where things can change and shift, but there were some hints dropped at some larger-scope narratives that will be going on with the show. Expect to see someone fired from the company as well as most of the cast having their own individual send-off episode. And then there’s the joy of bringing favorite characters back from prior seasons including old alum like Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak as well as notable guest players like Zach Woods, David Denman, and Melora Hardin.
Nestled into the back corner of an industrial alley in Van Nuys, it’s easy to see how the line between the fiction of the show and the reality of the world can blur for everyone and a strange juxtaposition for one of NBCs most successful shows ever. They’re really in the best position a long-running show can be in; loving going to work every day, but knowing that it’s time to say goodbye and not wear out the welcome. Dunder Mifflin will finally close its doors in May, but the lasting impression it has had will never be forgotten.
And I haven’t even talked about the quality of their paper products.
The Office airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.
Images courtesy of Keith Kuramoto for Poptimal.com