Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Ranking The Office Episodes: 188-151

There was a time when it was it on, that The Office was my favorite show on TV – probably from about 2006-2010 (roughly Season 2-6). And then, it kind of faded for me a little – which happens with aging shows all the time. At the dentist a few months ago – as I was waiting for my crown, they let me watch their Netflix, and I just randomly clicked on The Office – whatever episode was next – and hit a Season 7 episode that I know I had seen, but didn’t know as well as I did as those first six seasons. Ever since, I’ve been meaning to go back through the entire run, really see if the parts I loved I still loved, and whether those last three seasons, where I was kind of checked out, were bad, good, or somewhere in between. With this lockdown going on, I finally have the time.
So below, what I’m going to do is rank all 188 episodes, and then below that, ranked the 9 seasons, and then the top 50 characters. Just for clarification purposes, I used the episode list on IMDB – which mainly counted hour episodes as one episode (at least for the first four seasons) – which is mainly how Netflix had it as well. I know there are other lists that have over 200 episodes – but it’s because of those hour longs. If IMDB breaks those up into two episodes – so, do I. I did this for simplicity’s sake.
And one more thing, I’m going just to say, that rankings are all relative. Yes, the season was never as good once Carrel left, and this ranking reflects that, and yet, there are pretty much zero episodes of The Office that are truly terrible, or have little to offer. No, they aren’t all great – some are merely mediocre, or passable, but for the most part, it was a very solid run.
Ranking Episodes
188. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1) – The pilot, like many, really is the show trying to figure out what it is – and not quite getting it. The asshole/well-meaning-but-clueless balance for Carrel’s Michael Scott was way too much on the former, and not enough on the latter. Added to that, they are doing a bunch of gags from the British version – and not as well – and you have an uneven episode to say the least – and one that I don’t really enjoy. Is it really the worst episode of The Office ever? I guess so – it’s the one I may well skip right off the bat if I embark on another re-watch at some point.
187. The Banker (Season 6, Episode 14) – You know what type of episode doesn’t really work during a binge re-watch? The clip show. They have never been popular, but you can make the case that back in the day, when you combine of a network sitcom, they could be helpful and fun (and, yes, I still cry every time they play THAT moment from the end of season 3, regardless of context) – but when you’ve watch all those episodes in the span of 3 weeks like I have, it’s just unnecessary. It’s not a horrible watch by any means, but it’s hard to argue that it’s a good episode.
186. Gettysburg (Season 8, Episode 8) – With Gettysburg Season 8 was a third of the way into Season 8, and it’s here where you really start to realize the show isn’t going to completely find its footing this year. The episode basically illustrates everything that didn’t work in Season 8. Split into two, Andy takes half The Office to Gettysburg, trying very hard to inspire them with tales of glory and going into war together. Robert California, back at The Office, is fooled into thinking Kevin is the smartest one there, when he makes everyone make a pitch – and Kevin talks about cookies. Basically, both halves feel like repeats from previous seasons – and not done as well. Season 8 Andy was at his worst when the show forced him into doing something Michael would do – and not do it as well, as what happens here. And there is a definite limit of how much Robert California one can take. Even Gabe, being mistaken for Abraham Lincoln, then running with it, which produces a few laughs, feels strained. Perhaps the nadir of Season 8.
185. Get the Girl (Season 8, Episode 19) – Andy decided last episode he was going to drive to Florida and bring Erin back, and this is him actually trying to convince her to do that. Meanwhile, Nellie shows up at the Scranton branch, and simply declares herself manager – no one wants her there, but Robert California wants to see how it will play out. The whole Erin/Andy storyline (at least this part, about her staying in Florida) always seemed a little silly, and this is a silly end to it. Nellie works best in small doses – and this isn’t that, so overall, not a banner half-hour for the show.
184. Welcome Party (Season 8, Episode 20) – Another Nellie heavy episode – the staff is tasked with giving her a welcome party, but since they don’t like it, they try and throw a bad one. But Dwight and Jim see what Nellie’s life is like when they are ordered to help her move into her apartment, and Jim wants to call off the prank. Meanwhile, Erin and Andy drive back from Florida – but she won’t kiss him until he breaks up with his girlfriend, which they stop off to do in the middle of the party. Some of this makes little logical sense (who has a party like Andy’s girlfriend is in the middle of a workday?), and it’s too much Nellie again. Still, Andy actually breaking up with his girlfriend is wonderfully awkward.
183. Here Comes Treble (Season 9, Episode 5) – The final Halloween episode of The Office – and they usually do these very well. This is the weakest one they’ve done, as it gets sidetracked with Andy bringing in the Cornell Acapella group into the office, and getting angry that they seem to love his old buddy Broccoli Rob more than him, leading to pettiness all around. Dwight and Nellie team up to find who is taking anxiety pills (it’s Nellie) – and Jim invests a lot of money in Athlead, without Pam’s express consent. It’s an okay episode – but it’s basically setting up Jim and Pam’s marriage issues, and Andy’s boat trip, more than being a great episode unto itself.
182. Mafia (Season 6, Episode 6) – If you wanted to argue that the most important characters to The Office are actually Jim & Pam, and not Michael – Mafia could be exhibit A. The only episode that has Jim & Pam on their honeymoon, and hence not in the episode beyond their voices as they get called often throughout the episode, the episode just seems adrift for most of it. Mike Starr guests as an insurance salesman, and Dwight and Andy convince Michael that he’s part of the Mafia. The episode is just kind of drifts, and is kind of goofy, and I’m not sure if really consistent with any of those three characters. The episode isn’t horrible by any means, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more completely forgettable Office episode during its prime.
181. Jury Duty (Season 8, Episode 13) – Jim returns from Jury Duty, without telling anyone that he was dismissed by noon on the first day, and took the rest of the week off – and Dwight is determined to prove Jim lied. Meanwhile, Angela has her baby – a month early, and it’s the largest premature baby in history – and Dwight becomes convinces the baby is his. The Angela baby half is pretty good – it does set up a long running storyline for Dwight and Angela as well. Everything to do with Jury Duty storyline really doesn’t really work.
180. Roy’s Wedding (Season 9, Episode 2) – Jim and Pam are invited to Roy’s wedding (for some reason) and go there to discover that Roy has really gotten his life together – he’s got a successful business, and has become a kinder, gentler person – so much so that he even wrote a song for his new wife. This gives Jim and Pam a slight crisis – do they know everything about each other, is the mystery gone, and for Jim, is he wasting his life. The B-plot involves Clark trying an elaborate scheme to get Erin to his apartment so he can seduce her – which ends, really, with the start of Pete and Erin. I don’t mind see Roy happy – but he’s basically a different character here, and I would have like to see some kind of line between them. And the B-plot is silly – a way to get Pete and Erin started, but there had to be a better way.
179. The Inner Circle (Season 7, Episode 22) – This episode perhaps never had a chance – particularly in a binge situation – as it is the one right after Michael leaves, which is the culmination of multiple episodes that probably made you cry a few times. Still, it isn’t very good – the one episode with Will Ferrell’s Dangelo as solo manager, shows that managers can be less self-aware, than Michael – and way more insufferable. It’s also has a lot of narrative in it for one episode – especially since it’s all going to be discarded, as soon as Dangelo leaves.
178. Lice (Season 9, Episode 10) – Cece gets lice, and Pam brings it into the office – infecting almost everyone, who blame Meredith for the outbreak who shaves her head in response. Erin steps in and takes control, while Dwight overreacts to it all. Meanwhile, those without lice conspires to get Darryl and Val back together – much to Darryl chagrin. And Jim has a business meeting with Dr. J. – which is basically them playing one-on-one. The point here really seems to be to set up the very different lives Pam and Jim are living with him in Philly – and to also set up a running joke with Meredith in different wigs for weeks ahead.
177. Spooked (Season 8, Episode 5) – Robert California is coming to The Office Halloween party with his son, putting Andy on edge. He wants to approve everyone’s costumes, and makes Erin nervous when she thinks he doesn’t like the party she planned. Robert California slowly tries to get into his workers heads to tell a spooky story. A fine ensemble episode, with just a little too much Robert California – and not to mention his son, who I don’t think really works.
176. Lotto (Season 8, Episode 3) – The warehouse staff wins the lotto – and then promptly quit. This sends Darryl into a spiral of depression – he used to be in that Lotto pool, but stopped when he moved upstairs. He is supposed to hire a new warehouse staff – but cannot find the motivation, leaving Andy to handle it. Meanwhile, Jim, Dwight, Kevin, and Erin have to work the warehouse and pack boxes together – and find creative ways to do so. Andy and Darryl have a few good moments here – but it takes too long to get there. And the warehouse hijinks strikes me as the type of thing the office wouldn’t have done earlier. It all passes pleasantly enough, but it isn’t particularly memorable.
175. Couples Discount (Season 9, Episode 15) – It’s Valentine’s Day, and Andy is finally back from his three-month vacation. Erin wants to dump him so she can date Pete, Jim and Pam go to lunch with Brian, the recently fired documentary crew member, and the rest of the staff pretend to be dating, and head to the mall to get couples discount manicures. The episode is mostly diverting and amusing when focused on the ensemble – even funnier than the mall, is them trying to get Andy in trouble with David Wallace. The Jim and Pam stuff are basically treading water (not sure how Jim can be mad at Pam for crying in front of Brian when he made her cry) – and the episodes confirms that Andy is going to continue to be a massive asshole, he’s actually become worse in his time away.
174. New Guys (Season 9, Episode 1) – To this day, I’m not convinced that The Office needed to add both Clark and Pete (or either) to the cast for the last season, although it’s funny that in this episode people called them Dwight Jr. and Jim Jr. This acts mainly as a setup episode for Season 9 – Andy trying to make Nellie’s life miserable (doesn’t make much sense, since he agreed to keep her on in Season 8), and confirming Oscar and the State Senator are dating, etc. As setup episodes go, it’s fine.
173. Suit Warehouse (Season 9, Episode 11) – Dwight enlists Clark to pretend to be his son, to pitch a father-son suit warehouse, with his usual partner in these situations (Jim) not available, and their pitch is a wild ride of role playing. Darryl goes to Athlede for a job interview - and brings Pam along, who sees what Jim is doing. Meanwhile, the office gets an espresso machine, and everyone left decides to drink one of each of the 18 flavors – leading to craziness. You can insult the espresso storyline if you want – it’s the kind of goofiness the office didn’t used to do, but it’s so much fun, who cares? Dwight is the only one who really brings out much in Clark that I like. The Athlede stuff is what it is.
172. The Boat (Season 9, Episode 6) – Andy has discovered that his father has blown the family fortune, and it’s up to him to try and figure out what to do. Their last big asset is a yacht – that could be sold for a lot of money to a buyer in the Bahamas – so he decides to take the boat down there himself, leaving Erin behind. This is the decision that has an impact on the rest of the season. However, the B-plot – with Pam, Jim and Nellie pranking Dwight who thinks he’s on a local radio interview is outright hilarious.
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171. Work Bus (Season 9, Episode 4) – Jim convinces Dwight that the wiring in the building is dangerous – hoping to get a week off – but instead Dwight provides a bus for everyone to work on, which eventually heads upstate to buy pie with everyone on board. Again, it’s always great to see the whole office outside the office, and this is a lot of fun. It also has some genuine emotion between Jim and Dwight, and Nellie, Erin, and Andy. This is one of those Season 9 episodes that, for the most part, ignores the larger narrative arcs of the season – but is stronger for it.
170. St. Patrick’s Day (Season 6, Episode 19) – It’s St. Patrick’s Day, but Kathy Bates’ Jo is working late in Scranton, so that means everyone else is also working late. Michael tries very hard to suck up to Jo, but it doesn’t go well. This episode is fine, we get to know Jo a little bit, but overall it’s also kind of a stagnant episode – one where, like the office denizens, we are stuck with them in the office, wondering when it’s going to end.
169. Fundraiser (Season 8, Episode 22) – The State Senator is having a fundraiser, and Robert California has purchased two tables for everyone in the office – which including the recently fired Andy, as Erin’s date, and things get awkward. Oscar thinks the State Senator is hitting on him. And Dwight doesn’t know how silent auctions work. Much of this is silly – Andy adopting all those dogs is something Michael would have done, but it would have been funnier, but it’s fun to see the entire office out here, interaction. Silly, but fun.
168. Angry Andy (Season 8, Episode 21) – Andy returns from Florida, and finds that Nellie will not vacate his office or his job, and Robert California won’t make her. Kelly has started dating Ravi – after being set up by Pam – making Ryan very jealous, who tries his best to win her back. The Kelly/Ryan storyline is silly – but it’s also very funny, as everyone really does let Ryan know what they think of him, and climaxes with a great scene. The Nellie/Andy/Robert storyline also climaxes with a great scene – Andy standing up for himself, which gets him fired, but everything leading up to that isn’t great.
167. Mrs. California (Season 8, Episode 9) – Robert California brings his wife (Maura Tierney) into the office because she wants to get back to work, but right before she arrives, he lets Andy know that under no circumstances is he to hire her. Once they’re both in front of him though, that becomes very hard. Dwight starts a very bad gym in the basement. An interesting episode – it at least attempts to show a different side of Robert, and gets everyone into the act to try and be mean to Tierney. But again, it’s a lot of Robert California.
166. Tallahassee (Season 8, Episode 15) – The Sabre store team gathers in Tallahassee, and Dwight is determined to win over the new boss – Nellie – and get the V.P. position, and his competition is Todd Packer, and Dwight won’t give up, even when he needs his appendix removed. Back at the office, Andy fills in for Erin at reception. The Florida episodes are probably the best run of Season 8 – but this is weaker than the rest of them, a little too over the top, but still a fine episode.
165. Turf War (Season 8, Episode 23) – Robert gets drunk one night, and closes the Binghamton branch of Dunder Miflin on a whim. That causes a war between Scranton and Syracuse over their clients, creating a vacuum that Andy thinks he can fill. Meanwhile, Robert enlists the women in the office to try and figure out what was in the drunken voicemail he left for Nellie. This is the kind episode you could have seen them doing in its prime, but just a little sillier than normal, even if it still works. I do appreciate trying to complicate Nellie, and make her sympathetic, but I’m not sure it really works.
div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"> 164. Christmas Wishes (Season 8, Episode 10) – The Office always did Christmas parties well, so they tried to do one once again – but without Michael, it isn’t quite as good. Still, it does show a slightly different Robert California – his wife has left him, and he’s getting the entire office drunk. Meanwhile, Jim and Dwight are told to stop pranking each other because it is bugging Cathy – and have their Christmas bonuses threatened as a result. They do Christmas well at the office, and as far as Robert California heavy entries go, this one is pretty good.
163. The Seminar (Season 7, Episode 13) – In an effort to improve his sales, Andy decides to hold a seminar for small business owners – enlisting the help of the other salesmen – all of whom drop out one at a time, for different reasons. Jim abandoning it because of someone from his past is fun – particularly the end. But when it’s all over, there isn’t much here – they even had to invent a silly reason for Michael to even be involved in the episode at all, and you can feel the strain.
162. Promos (Season 9, Episode 18) – This one kind of feels like a filler episode as the endgame is around the corner, and they needed to get there. The promos for the documentary have landed, and everyone is concerned with what is going to be exposed, and just how much the crew got – and really, that’s the only part of the episode you’ll remember. Sure, Dwight and his farm people – here, he worries his girlfriend’s family is trying to scam him into splitting a tractor – is fun, but the Ryan Howard storyline with Jim and Daryl is one of those that feels like they tried to shoehorn in a famous athlete even if it doesn’t fit. Still, the episode is funny – but there’s not as much here as there is in many late Season 9 episodes.
161. Stairmageddon (Season 9, Episode 19) – An incredibly goofy episode, but one that is very fun and funny throughout. Dwight needs to repair the elevator in the building, which Stanley hates – especially when Dwight needs Stanley for a sales call – which long story short, ends with Stanley getting shot with bull tranquilizer, and being dragged from the building. Jim and Pam head to marriage counselling – and talk poor Nellie and Toby’s ears off about it. Finally, Andy tries to find a talent agent – which leads to some very funny cameos. Like the previous episode, it feels kind of like filler as the endgame starts to play out, but it’s so much fun, it’s to complain.
160. Special Project (Season 8, Episode 14) – Dwight is put in charge of a three-week work trip to Tallahassee for a secret project for Sabre. He wants to pick his own team, Andy wants to send him with the least valuable members of the staff –but everyone wants to go, except for Jim, who of course it’s going to end up going. It’s also Pam’s first day back – although for reasons, Cathy is still there (we know the reason). In the last two years of the office, it’s always great when the whole ensemble gets a chance to shine, and this is one of those, so overall a solid season 8 episode.
159. Junior Salesman (Season 9, Episode 13) – David Wallace puts Dwight in charge of hiring a part times salesman to fill in for Jim when he’s in Philly – and Clark wants the job, but Dwight brings in all of his very weird friends to compete for it. Certainly, a funny episode – when cousin Mose isn’t the weirdest one in the episode, you know you’re know you’re in for a treat. It’s also nice to nice Pam jump in at the end to try and cheer Dwight up. This one is a lot of fun.
158. Training Day (Season 7, Episode 19) – After a season that saw a lot of growth by Michael, this episode – the first after he announced he was leaving – seemed like a step back for him, as he spends the day showing his replacement – DeAngelo Vickers (Will Ferrell) the ropes, and getting jealous of him, and protective of what he has done over the years. It also seems kind of rushed – the last time we saw Michael, he was announcing he was leaving, and now we’re really far down the road. The show mainly handled Michael’s exit amazingly well – but this one feels like a little bit of a misfire – even as it can be funny to see Carrel and Ferrell working together.
157. The Incentive (Season 8, Episode 2) – We really start to see where Season 8 is going here, with Robert California pressuring Andy to increase sales, and Andy in turn offering strange incentives to the rest of the staff to get there – climaxing in a tattoo shop. There are many ways this could have gone, but they basically decide to go with sweet – the whole staff coalescing around Andy, with Robert California as the antagonist. It’s a funny, sweet, and basically forgettable episode.
156. The Target (Season 9, Episode 8) – At the office, Pete starts building a tower out of all of the customer complaint cards – eventually looping everyone in the office into the game as they go over the mistakes that they’ve made. Meanwhile, the revelation about Oscar and the State Senator, makes Angela go to Dwight to hire someone to kneecap Oscar. And Jim has to convince Stanley and Phyllis to help him out, so he can spend time in Philly with Athlede. This is the first episode where you really see the point of Pete (and where he actually does seem like a young Jim) – and is surprising the highlight of the episode (I love Pam getting in on the action). The other two are more narrative driven about the show – and both work quite well as well.
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155. The Whale (Season 9, Episode 7) – The White Pages are looking for a new paper supplier, and David Wallace reaches out to Dwight to make the pitch – but when they find out it is a woman, the women in the office tutor Dwight on how to deal with them. When they get there though, they realize it’s Jan – and she hasn’t changed over the years. Meanwhile, Jim has issues on a conference call, and Angela and Oscar follow the State Senator, trying to figure out if he’s cheating on them. Jan has always been one of my favorite characters – and she doesn’t disappoint here – Pam stalling for time with her is wonderful, and the climax with Dwight bringing in Clark is great as well.
154. Trivia (Season 8, Episode 11) – The quarter is almost over, and Andy is $830 dollars away from the goal Robert California has set for the office. He comes up with a plan, to home in on a bar trivia Oscar was doing in Philadelphia with a $1,000 cash prize – not realizing it is a gay bar. What they have set up to be a tired gay panic joke turns out not to be that at all, which is refreshing, and it’s always good to get everyone out of the office, working together – and the twist of Kevin, Erin and Kelly kicking butt.
153. Paper Airplane (Season 9, Episode 20) – The last half-hour episode of the series – the entire staff participates in a paper airplane making contest, in which Dwight aligns himself with Angela. Andy gets a role in a workplace safety video, and Jim and Pam continue to have troubles. All in all it’s a really fun episode, that gets the whole ensemble involved which is good, and really sets up the endgame between Dwight and Angela. Again, like the last two episodes, it’s a little bit of filler here – but fun filler, so who cares?
152. The Chump (Season 6, Episode 25) – Michael has continued to date Donna, even though he now knows she is married – despite the disapproval of everyone in the office. Andy even takes him to a baseball game to meet her husband that she is cheating on. Dwight and Angela have arbitration for their baby contract, and Jim and Pam keep falling asleep at the office. I’m not much of a fan of the whole baby contract thing, and honestly, the whole Donna storyline seemed like filler – and this episode is basically all filler.
151. The Fight (Season 2, Episode 6) – I know that some love this episode – with Dwight bragging about his purple belt status, and Michael believing he can beat them up, so they go to Dwight’s dojo for a one on one fight - but it isn’t my favorite. I like the awkwardness, the silences of this show – and this one doesn’t have it. It does show, perhaps for the first, but not the last time, Jim going too far with Pam, and then winning her back quietly at the end – but it’s one of the few Season 2 episodes that I basically forget.

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