“The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. You don’t know them — it wasn’t your choice — and yet you spend more time with them then you do your friends or your family. But probably all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day,” this is Tim Canterbury’s wonderful speech from the Christmas special of Ricky Gervais’ original series, “The Office.” “And so, obviously, when someone comes in who you … you have a connection with … yeah. Dawn was a ray of sunshine in my life and it meant a lot. But, if I’m really being honest I never really thought it would have a happy ending. I don’t know what a happy ending is. Life isn’t about endings, is it? It’s a series of moments. It’s not if, you know, if you turn the camera off it’s not an ending, is it? I’m still here, my life’s not over. Come back here in 10 years, see how I’m doing then. Because I could be married with kids, you don’t know. Life just goes on.”
Life just going on was the basic theme of the U.S. version of “The Office,” which started as a Gus Van Sant-y shot-for-shot remake of Gervais’ then-superior series and turned into something else entirely. Like this: “I thought it was weird when you picked us to make a documentary, but all in all, I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”
Pam (Jenna Fisher) issued that miniature soliloquy at the end of “The Office” on Thursday night, one of the many miniature soliloquies that were peppered throughout the final moments of the series. It was a meta moment, really, as before “The Office” became “The Office,” Fisher, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Ellie Kemper, Craig Robinson, Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak, among the rest of the talented cast, were simply ordinary things. The beauty was how “The Office” turned them into stars.
The finale of “The Office” — and actually all nine seasons of the show — went deeper than that, of course. Gervais stopped his series with Tim and Dawn finally getting together; U.S. show creator Greg Daniels went a step further. He allowed “The Office” to show what happened after the fairy tale romance, when ordinary became the base line. Jim and Pam were always soul mates, but during this final season things were slightly askew. But rather than have them break up, “The Office” went with the idea that stuff happens and the strong couples make it through the muck with an even deeper bond. As Pam said, the Halpert-Beasley union wound up being better than a fairy tale.
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them,” Andy (Helms) said during the finale, a line reminiscent of Tony Soprano’s “focus on the good times” speech to A.J. in the final season of “The Sopranos.” That’s basically “The Office,” too. The finale counted as episodes 200 and 201, an output that — spread out over nine years — yielded some really spectacular moments. It also yielded some really spectacular duds. (Most of the eighth season was trash; the ninth season, however, was one of the strongest.) Through it all, “The Office” was sometimes ordinary, sometimes mundane, sometimes crass, but often beautiful, smart and funny. The great parts of “The Office” wouldn’t fit onto just one cell phone; two family plans are required to properly eulogize this series.
“No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home,” Creed, of all people, said in the finale, thus summing up what so many felt about “The Office.” Then he got hauled off to jail.