Why Last Night’s Office Clip Show Broke My Heart


After six weeks of lonely reruns, NBC finally promised us a new Office last night. Late night bickering has all but consumed the network, so it would be nice to get a reminder of why it is we watch the channel at all anymore.

An investment banker comes to Scranton to assess if Dunder Mifflin is indeed a good buy for the company it’s being sold to, but as we got our first flashback about workplace injuries, and it went on just a little too long, I realized what was going on. A clip show. Oh God. A clip show.

The Office’s clip show last night wasn’t just a disappointing half an hour for all of us expecting a new episode. It actually speaks volumes about the current state of the show, reminded us about the glory days of the past, and makes me dread the future.

The clip show is not a new concept, in fact, it’s an old one. Actually, it’s so old, I can’t remember the last time a show did one. Friends? Seinfeld maybe? In any case, it was sometime back in the sitcom era, and era which has long since died, and I thought the dreaded clip show had gone along with it. As my friends were laughing at the clips referencing previous hilarious scenes, I was chuckling, but inside I was quite sad. So this is what’s become of what used to be my favorite show on TV? An episode devoted entirely to reminding us of how good the show USED to be?

Watching the clips, it was easy to see that most of them came from the early seasons of the show, and I could barely find any that were within the past year. Unquestionably for me, the glory day of the Office were seasons one and two, though I could be persuaded three and four were periodically great as well. But now, as we approach the end of season six, you have to wonder just how far this car can run before running out of gas entirely.

Resorting to a clip show like this is an indicator the show’s idea tank is just about empty. The Jim/Pam montage was perhaps the most telling part of the evening, in one stroke reminding us the show used to be a great drama as well as comedy, and at the same time, expressing the laziness of the writers, who essentially pulled one of the thousand “JAM” tribute videos from YouTube and actually put it into the show.


In many ways, I think “Casino Night” was the peak of the entire series.

There are many moments you could say that The Office jumped the shark. Michael driving into a lake, Dwight setting the office on fire. But to me, when the show surrendered its Jim and Pam dynamic, that’s when it lost nearly half of what made the show great. Jim and Pam are no longer the hopeless never-can-be couople they once were, they’re married, and even have a kid on the way, and there is no possible way to ever induce friction into that relationship ever again. Pam is a salesman now, for some reason, and Jim has become something of an asshole, as his promotion to co-manager has transformed his character into something we no longer like or relate to.

Contrastingly, the shows comedic staples, Michael and Dwight, have turned into mere cartoon characters, with their behavior becoming less and less human and more and more Homer Simpson. I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in another season or two.

There is a reason that Ricky Gervais’ original BBC Office last only fourteen episodes. He had a story to tell, and once he told it, he stopped. Though in many ways I’d claimed the comedy of the American version surpassed the British one, the same cannot be said of the show’s structure, which is meandering and aimless at this point, with no end in sight.


One of many great characters wandering around with no place to go.

It may seem like good news that The Office will never get cancelled at this rate, as with NBC in the toilet, The Office is one of the few brands it has left with a devoted fan base, myself included. But in my opinion, shows should not last forever, as going past its prime is the worst thing that can happen to a great show. Arrested Development, which was canceled to the dismay of everyone on earth by Fox, might have actually been done a favor, as it died as a wholly perfect entity, only three seasons long. Some shows could probably run forever, Seinfeld for example had nine years of brilliance, but then knew to call it a day and go out on top. The same cannot be said for The Office, which is now relegated to sporadic good episodes or good jokes within bad episodes.

In fact, after viewing NBCs entire comedy lineup last night, it became clear to me that these days, The Office has been far surpassed in hilarity by both 30 Rock, which line for line is the funniest show on TV today, and there’s rarely an episode I don’t find myself laughing all the way through, and also its own clone, Parks and Recreation, where the student has become the master, and that show now has a host of memorable characters all more sympathetic and funny than anyone on The Office these days.

To make a sports analogy (a rarity from me), watching The Office these days is like watching Brett Favre play. Once the absolute best at what he does, by coming back year after year, slowly growing worse and never knowing when to call it a day, it diminishes the idealized view we held of him, and The Office, once my favorite show on TV, is quickly becoming a shell of what it once was.

How do I see The Office ending these days? Well, since Jim and Pam’s wedding has been rendered useless as a finale, I suppose we’ll have to settle for Michael’s wedding, once he stops being a buffoon long enough to meet a nice girl, and better yet, I’d like to finally see him made a father, something we’ve forgotten he desperately longs to be. The man, despite his idiocy, deserves a happy ending, but at the rate the show is going, it may be another ten years before he, and we, get one.


Someday, Mike, someday.

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  1. i completely agree. the office is one of the few shows i care to even watch anymore and when you’re away for over a month and you come back with a lousy clip show, it makes me rethink my love of the show.

    my wife loved it though, which kinda disappoints me.

  2. Everytime I see the words Clip Show it just brings up the Simpsons clip show where they had the little song knock-off of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire…”Sorry for the clip show…like something, something and do-do-do-do” haha

  3. Seinfeld did a clip show only at the end of its run, just prior to the finale. And it was not done as “regular episode” but as a pre-finale send off. In other words, it was done right.

    I’ve never considered the US Office to be all that great, I think it’s been running on fumes for some time. It’s had some great episodes, some good early seasons but it never had anything on the UK Office.

  4. I still watch and (usually) enjoy the Office, but it is definitely not as good as it used to be. This sort of thing happens to sit-coms that run too long, and use up the sexual tension between main characters.

    Jim is becoming quite unlikeable, and I would love to see him get back to his pranking ways.

    Honestly, they should plan on ending it in one more season. I really think it’s better to go out earlier rather than later in order to be a loved and memorable show instead of a laughingstock. Seinfeld did that right. Arrested Development was canceled too early, as I think they had a ton of brilliance yet to give, but at least most people will always remember that that show was excellent, and never devolved into something stupid.

  5. clip shows are the worst. it’s so disappointing every time.

    you made some good points about mike and dwight becoming more and more homer-simpson-ish.

  6. i watch The Office every Thursday ONLY because it’s in between 2 of the funniest shows on tv. last night, i was actually laughing for the first time in over a year at most of the show… then i realized it’s because they were showing clips from when it was funny.

    i think it’s been a looooonnnnggg time since it was worth watching and i think it will eventually get canceled. 30 Rock is the funniest show on NBC, followed by SNL, then Parks and Recreation.

  7. That was not a very good sports analogy considering Brett Favre as a very strong chance of going to the Super Bowl, not to mention being selected to go the Pro Bowl three years running. He does not know when to quit, but he is still succeeding. But I do agree with the rest of your sentiments. I stopped watching after the third season and I don’t plan on watching any more episodes.

  8. I was highly disappointed once I realized it was a clip show too, the only show I know that still does that is the Simpsons, and they have been going for 20 years now so we can cut them a break.

    I also noticed that most of the clips seemed to be from the earlier seasons., and I noticed how much harder I laughed at those moments.

  9. so lets see…nbc is about going to loose $250 million on the winter Olympics another $45 million for buying out Conan O’Brien, (not to mention the cash the ad revenue they lost when Leno was at his earlier time), their network is receiving an insane amount of backlash over their late night switch up , the FCC is tying to block their sale to Comcast & they’re about to start receiving more backlash over Hulu’s alleged decision to start charging a fee

    and their master plan for retaining viewers is a clip show?

    damn. just…damn.

  10. @Jon – i love SNL. bill hader, will forte, andy samberg, fred armison, jason sudeikis, kristen wiig and even keenan thompson are so versatile and hilarious. they have true comedic talent and i haven’t missed an episode in the last couple years. the lonely island shorts are hilarious. if you disagree, then you need to stop reading this because we will never agree on anything and i have no respect for your opinion. the paul rudd episode is hilarious from start to end. not every week is as great but there is at least one great sketch on every show.

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