THE OFFICE: SEASON NINE
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Rainn Wilson as DWIGHT SCHRUTE
John Krasinski as JIM HALPERT
Jenna Fischer as PAM HALPERT
Ed Helms as ANDY BERNARD
Angela Kinsey as ANGELA MARTIN
Oscar Nunez as OSCAR MARTINEZ
Craig Robinson as DARRYL PHILBIN
Ellie Kemper as ERON HANNON
Paul Lieberstein as TOBY FLENDERSON
Brian Baumgartner as KEVIN MALONE
Phyllis Smith as PHILLIS LAPIN-VANCE
Leslie David Baker as STANLEY HUDSON
Kate Flannery as MEREDITH PAKLMER
Creed Bratton as CREED BRATTON
Catherine Tate as NELLIE BERTRAM
Created by: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
BY KEVIN CARR
It’s sad to see a show you’ve loved come to an end. The previous season of “The Office” made it easier simply because Season Eight was such a mess of a season. With the loss of Steve Carell as the glue that held the show together, Season Eight floundered around, trying to find a new anchor.
However, with the impending end coming with the announced final season, Season Nine managed to get its footing and rise back to its former glory. In the final season of “The Office,” we see the characters being pulling in different directions. Jim (John Krasinski) has decided to start a business in Philadelphia with his college buddies. He initially neglects to tell Pam (Jenna Fischer), which causes some tension, but he also bring Darryl (Craig Robinson) with him.
Meanwhile, back at Dunder-Mifflin, Andy (Ed Helms) suffers a breakdown when his family goes bankrupt. He disappears for three months, leading Dwight (Rainn Wilson) to act more mature and take over the management duties unofficially. Two new guys are in the office (Clark Duke and Jake Lacy), and they fit into the dynamic well, to the point of being a threat to Andy’s relationship with Erin (Ellie Kemper).
Finally, Angela (Angela Kinsey) and Oscar (Oscar Nunez) must face the truth about the man they both love, and Nellie (Catherine Tate) has settled into the bullpen as a sales associate, which serves Tate better with her comedic talents.
Even though the season is clearly heading to an end, it does not feel too awkward. After all, so many television shows have trouble finding footing in the final season, but the reality basis of “The Office” helps things out because people leave work all the time.
With Ed Helms no longer the focus of the season (to the point that he is gone for a good chunk of it), the show morphs into an ensemble comedy rather than how it used to revolve around the character of Michael Scott. The stories and chance for comedy is spread around. Characters like Dwight are still allowed to be off the wall without being saddled with the expectation of the main storyline.
In fact, there was really only one point during the season where the show felt out of place, and that was in the failed backdoor pilot to “The Farm,” which featured Dwight and his bizarre family running a bed and breakfast. Personally, I’m glad to see that idea die because Dwight never worked as a main character. Even in this final season of “The Office,” he worked better as a partial antagonist and partial wacky neighbor sit-com staple.
A glance at the cover art for “The Office: Season Nine” shows how huge the cast has become. Where the first couple seasons focused primarily on Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesley and Dwight Schrute, this final season includes seventeen memorable characters. The background parties have grown throughout the year, and they were able to emerge as a group ensemble. Everyone seems to get their fair due over the course of Season Nine, and that’s a testament to the strong writing team behind the show.
Of course, being the final season, “The Office: Season Nine” cannot be talked about without addressing the finale. Series finales can be rough, even for a great show, but this one for “The Office” was brilliantly done. Sure, it put people in new directions and new situations, but that’s how life rolls. We see the characters mature a bit (and not just Dwight), and we see them chasing their real dreams.
Having watched all the episodes of “The Office” over the years, the final two episodes (which actually encompass two hours of television because they were both double episodes) were honest, heartfelt, tender yet inspirational and uplifting. The writers did something truly unique with this finale, letting it serve as a strong wrap-up for the characters as well as a wrap-up for those who made the show. I’d rank it up there as one of the best series finales I’ve seen.
For a ninth season release, “The Office: Season Nine” his an excellent assortment of special features. There are more than two hours of deleted scenes, which work better than most because they’re usually funny bits that just made the episodes run too long. There’s a blooper reel, cast farewells, the table read for the finale and a behind-the-scenes panel discussion as an exclusive Blu-ray feature.
However, the most insightful and fascinating bonus feature is the slate of audition tapes from when the series was originally cast. Not only is it interesting to see the young faces of the people who became famous from this show, but it’s amazing to see who read for the different parts. No spoilers for this, as this feature is one of the best things in the set, but you’ll be surprised at how many well-known faces didn’t get a part.