Episode Review: The Office (Series Finale)

  • Publish Date: May 17, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments

The Office [U.S.], Episode 924/925: "Finale"
Original airdate: May 16, 2013 on NBC

Running a mere seven seasons (and over 180 episodes) longer than the British series from which it is derived, NBC's The Office concluded its nine-season American run last night with a Greg Daniels-penned, 75-minute finale that brought back some departed stars while touching upon most (though not quite all) of the show's characters. Preliminary ratings indicate viewership of about 5.4 million, good by recent Office standards, but over 70 million fewer viewers than the Seinfeld finale drew.

What are TV writers saying about the episode? Below, we sample their morning-after responses; if a reviewer provided a score, it is listed as well (converted to our 0-100 scale).

Great Extremely positive reviews

93 "'Finale' is not a great piece of television. I enjoyed it immensely in the moment, yet I imagine that when I return to it down the line, it will appear too long, overly mawkish, and self-congratulatory in ways that will make me feel like a lazy critic for having smiled so widely and stupidly through my first viewing. The episode gets sloppy with the details of the documentary—If the crew is just returning to film the reunion, why would they know about Jim's fake lap-band surgeries?—and massively undercuts one of the basic themes of the series as a whole. Yet in spite of these and other critically lensed misgivings, this is the finale The Office needed."

— Erik Adams / A.V. Club

90 "The last extra 15 minutes of this super-sized finale had me not only in tears, but jotting down lines of dialogue faster than the actors could deliver them."

— Roth Cornet / IGN

100 "While also being funny and wrapping up every single character arc, the [finale] did a tremendous job of honoring this fantastic series, and hitting nearly every emotional beat the audience could have asked for."

— Dan Forcella / TV Fanatic

100 "I'm glad we got this last season. The jokes popped more consistently, and the characters felt more dynamic than they had in a while."

— Michael Tedder / Vulture

Positive Positive reviews

"But the fact is, The Office was a great show, full stop. Though in its final few seasons it was nowhere near as sharp, surprising, or relevant as it was before the departure of Carell, it never really strayed from its status as groundbreaking and inventive. Thursday night's perfectly fitting finale proved just that."

— Kevin Fallon / The Atlantic

"Though everyone got a happy ending of one sort or another, the finale, and that final sequence in particular, still felt small in that way that defined "The Office." And the final edit, from Michael hanging Pam's drawing of the building to a shot of the anonymous-looking building itself - was the perfect, mundane note to close on."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

"The finale was festive and sentimental ... It was that soft-hearted — some would say saccharine — disposition that was the series's more than occasional downfall, though it was also probably the main attraction for a core of devoted fans."

— Mike Hale / The New York Times

"This was as good a conclusion as one could hope for."

— Damon Houx / ScreenCrush

"If 'The Office' goodbye won't be remembered as one of the best in TV history, it was still sweet and emotional and satisfying."

— Gail Pennington / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"I suspect that, if I go back and re-watch this finale a year or two from now, I'll find it worked more as a farewell to the previous nine seasons than as an episode in and of itself. The stuff that was like latter-seasons Office (the Andy-centricity, the Dwight zaniness) was all right; the stuff that recalled the sweep of the whole series was wonderful."

— James Poniewozik / Time

"The end result was definitely one of the highlights of an admittedly mixed bag of a final season. In fact, in the grand scheme of series finales, this one didn't drop the ball at all, for the most part. "

— Mark Trammell / TV Equals

"Good intentions couldn't entirely erase some of the creative missteps, and using a wedding as the device to close out the series seemed a little bit trite."

— Brian Lowry / Variety

"Thoroughly satisfying (but a tad too long – that's what she said – and certainly too heart-strung). "

— Hank Stuever / Washington Post

"This final season, and in particular the past few episodes, have managed to recapture some of what made the show great, and Thursday's finale wrapped things up in a very satisfying way."

— Rick Porter / Zap2it

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews

"The closer ... wallowed in the closure, and good feelings and love, which very nearly smothered any impulse to actually be funny, which this finale only intermittently was. ... Great television isn't or shouldn't be about putting a nice bow on a package, so everyone can go to bed happy, satisfied, and have their expectations fulfilled."

— Verne Gay / Newsday

"The finale demonstrated just how much the American 'Office' fundamentally does not care about the cringe. It was shamelessly softhearted ... It's a testament to 'The Office's' skill, to the affection its characters and actors have accrued over nine seasons, that despite the downright corniness and shameless heart tugging of the finale, I hope if the cameras catch up with these guys again in 10 years, they will all still be so happy."

— Willa Paskin / Salon

"I wish I could say The Office came all the way back in its finale ... but the result was more mixed than that. "

— Mitch Salem / ShowBuzzDaily

Poor Negative reviews

"This episode was poorly conceived and clumsily structured. It really wasn't worthy of all the years of affectionate humor that had gone before it. "

— Tom Gliatto / People

What do you think?

What did you think of The Office finale? Was it a satisfying conclusion to the series? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (3)

  • Kincaid  

    Wish there was a season 10, to make it reach other few TV programs milestone such as Small ville, as much as the jokes/funny moments and wittiness were a dying breed in former seasons. I do however applaud The Office for lasting that long, and carrying on even without its major character *Steve Carrell* with minor/major laughs here and there in most episode. So from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you The Office US. Great Job! You kept me and a lot entertained for a long time.

  • robinm  

    @oceansroar I'm jealous that you were able to avoid talk of Carell's return that broke late last week. I would have loved to have been surprised!

    Anyway, I think they did a decent job. The show hasn't been good in a long time, but this was enjoyable.

  • oceansroar  

    i love it, but i have loved it through the valleys as well. Yes, it may have been a bit too sentimental, but i think the fans that loved it wanted it to go out on a high. i was shocked to see Michael Scott. It was a big moment. That's what she said. i will miss The Office as though it were an old friend that passed away.

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