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Best Episodes of The Office

I got pretty emotional when The Office ended last night. While they final ten minute-sequence was a pretty typical, planned series finale material, it cut straight to the heart. It’s terrible that we’ll never see those characters together again. And I told NBC last summer, “Let this show end with grace.”

The Office revived comedy on NBC by becoming a parody of what the network had been doing since Seinfeld went off the air. For seven or eight years, all of NBC’s new comedies featured nothing but bad jokes. The Office just told those bad jokes and showed how uncomfortable they made everyone. That was funny.

So in lieu of the show ending, I thought I’d list the episodes that stood out. Nothing from the last two seasons; not enough time to get perspective. Can’t really pick one, although “The Whale” and “Moving On” were really good.

“The Injury”: Everyone else has this in their list of best episodes, along with “The Dundies”. I didn’t think of it personally, but it has a lot of great stuff. Michael trying to justify his status as disabled, being so brazen as to call in the guy in the wheelchair. The scene of Pam helping concussed Dwight to the elevator is classic, girl-next-door Pam.

“The Job”: There isn’t another Office episode that I would say is better than this one, and while it’s seems almost too easy to pick the third season finale, it holds up. The two big arcs of the first fifty episodes, the Jim/Pam dynamic and the Michael/Jan relationship came to huge heads. Jan was unveiled to be more screwed up than Michael, almost psychotic in fact. This was the perfect twist-it came out of nowhere, but made complete sense once it happened.

Karen reaching the end of her term, Dwight getting a taste of being the manager, Ryan’s big jump, and Pam finally coming into her own all highlighted the episode. Dwight and Andy’s nerd-vona conference room session was amazing in and of itself, and it was the fifth-most important thing in the episode.

But Jim finally asking Pam out on a date was the cake of the episode. Pam talked a lot in this episode, but was speechless at the end. After fifty episodes of “will-they-or-won’t-they?”, Jim and Pam were together for the rest of the show.

“Dinner Party”: In an article on TVGuide.com in which Jenna Fischer said this episode, whose filming had been postponed due to the Writer’s Strike of 2007, was going to be one of the funniest they’d ever done. I had my doubts, as the episodes that fall had been a bit stale, as four hour-long episodes glutted September and October.

I had to wait six months to eat my words on this one, but I was more than happy to.

There was conflict in every scene of this episode, from the cold open where Michael tricks Jim and Pam into dinner with a fake Friday-night work assignment to Michael and Jan’s putting their internal dysfunction on full display, to Dwight’s wedging his way into the party with his former babysitter as a date. Jan’s paranoia against Pam is what make this episode worth repeat viewings.

“Stress Relief”: The post-Super Bowl hour-long episode’s opening scene is probably the funniest in the show’s history. By the time everyone was running into the annex, I was laughing out loud (and I rarely laugh out loud at something I haven’t seen before). When Kevin breaks into the vending machine, I was laughing on the floor. Every subsequent time I’ve seen Kevin doing that, I’ve laughed.

The episode deals with a lot of meaty themes, starting with Stanley’s heart attack , Michael’s struggles with death, and the roast of Michael Scott, an obvious storyline where a normally subtle show could over the top. Even though Jim and Pam’s storyline is less believable (we knew they wouldn’t break up), Stanley’s laughing at the end showed us it was all right.

“Gossip”: The season six premiere creatively worked in the reveal of Pam’s pregnancy to the office into a great Michael Scott scheme to get out of trouble. The intern storyline was just the tip of the iceberg.

Michael was a man defined by being an insecure outsider and wanting to be liked, emotions that come into brilliant conflict in this episode. He shifts from trying to be a part of the gossip at any cost, to distilling to damage by creating wild, new rumors. What a five year-old complex.

“The Chump”: This episode has an unconventional take on how Michael, in his head, weaseled around the fact that the woman he was infatuated with had a husband. The subplots, Jim and Pam trying to stay up at work after their baby has kept them up all night and Andy’s investigation into Sabre’s faulty printers, could have been great A-stories. Favorite part: Creed’s talking head, which includes the episode’s title.

“The Inner Circle”: I know everyone supposedly hated Will Ferrell on the show, but watch any season eight episode and say that this episode isn’t funny in comparison. It’s funny. The shear notion that Deangelo would think for a second that Kevin could figure him out is hillarious.

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