The Office: Ranking All Nine Seasons

Photo Credit: https://www.realtown.com/brianrlange/groups/theoffice

The Office have been over for almost a week, so now we can reflect on the show as a whole. There were nine seasons in total and numerous Emmys and Golden Globes, making the show an obvious classic. But which years were the best? Here’s how we would rank the nine seasons.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.top-ten.tv/cartoon/top-10-tv-shows-of-all-time/9. Season 8-

The bad season. The first of the post Michael Scott era. The one that likely led to season nine being the last. Andy failed to fill the position Michael did, and Robert California was one of the worst characters the show ever produced, despite a solid performance from James Spader.  But there were some highlights, particularly the Florida arc mid season.

Best Episode: “Tallahassee”

 

Photo Credit: http://www.officetally.com/the-office-season-9-dvd-buying-guide8. Season 9-

After season eight came the redemption season, which also marked the end. Although Michael was still missed, this season boasted much stronger humor and writing. The ambitious way of concluding the show with the documentary actually airing and the introduction of Brian the “boom guy” was a bit shaky, but the show ended well enough, if not great.

Best Episode: “A.A.R.M.”

 

Photo Credit: http://irelandsking.wordpress.com/2011/02/7. Season 6-

And here was the first significant dip in quality. While certainly not a bad season, once Sabre takes over the company thing slow down to a crawl. Of course Kathy Bates as Jo Bennett was a silver lining. But the first half of the season is still full of Office greatness, including a classic TV wedding, Jim becoming co-manager, and lots of Michael being Michael.

Best Episode: “Niagara”

 

Photo Credit: http://collider.com/the-office-season-7-dvd-review/6. Season 7-

Michael Scott’s swan song was nearly perfect. Despite a couple lingering problems from season six, Michael’s exit not being the finale, and Will Ferrell, our seventh year with Scranton branch packed a wild punch. After a solid start to the season, Holly returns for the second half to give Michael the send off he deserves.

Best Episode: “Garage Sale”

 

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._season_1)5. Season 1-

Had the pilot not been a carbon copy of the British original, this season may have made it higher on the list. Considers it’s only six episodes, this season is actually very good. Quickly separating itself from its counterpart, The Office grew into its own sooner than a lot of other comedies do. It led into some of the best seasons of the series.

Best Episode: “Diversity Day”

 

Photo Credit: http://www.amazon.com/The-Office-Season-Steve-Carell/dp/B0024FAD9W4. Season 5-

This season saw The Office at the height of its popularity, with the superbowl episode getting the highest ratings of the show’s nine seasons. It’s also a very competent season. We get to see Michael and Holly together in the beginning, have the Andy/Dwight/Angela triangle throughout the middle, and the Michael Scott Paper Company at the end, all classic storylines.

Best Episode: “Broke”

 

Photo Credit: http://www.givememyremote.com/remote/2008/08/20/the-office-season-4-on-dvd-giveaway/3. Season 4-

Not many shows actually benefitted from the Writer’s Strike back in 2007, but The Office came back with the best episode of the just over 200 in total. With some tinkering, the seasonal arcs shifted and the show recovered in a way that none other did. Of course the beginning episodes struggled from being 42 minutes as opposed to 21, but that’s hardly the writers’ fault.

Best Episode: “Dinner Party”

 

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._season_2)2. Season 2-

When fans refer to Jim and Pam as one of the best TV couples of all time, this season is the biggest reason why. The first season established that they would be good together, but here we learned how perfect they were. Through all the awkwardness they felt real and suddenly became iconic. The writing this season was also about as sharp as it ever got.

Best Episode: “Casino Night”

 

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._season_3)1. Season 3-

It’s really hard to find any season of comedic television better than season three of The Office. Introducing Andy and Karen, two stunningly great additions to an already excellent cast, the season had Michael at his best, and brought a perfect arc to the table for Jim and Pam. They started out the season in different branches and ended on a date. Besides that, the season boasts some of the biggest laughs I can remember from this show and any other show.

Best Episode: “A Benihana Christmas”

 

Which season of The Office is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Responses to The Office: Ranking All Nine Seasons

  1. jayphayes says:

    I was surprised to find with the conclusion of the show how few of these rankings there were. A Google search yielded very few results, which sadly speaks to the declining mania that comes with some subpar seasons. I find your ranking accurate and justifiable, but I have a few tweaks I would make for myself (IMHO):

    9) Season 8- I don’t believe anybody debates that the lowpoint of the show came after the departure of Steve Carell. Not only was it clear that the creative team and cast both had as divided an attention as ever when it came to the sitcom versus Hollywood, but season 8 continued a downward trend in quality that began arguably in season 5 or 6. Where the show truly suffered was ironically an area that served as its strength-its very bedrock!- in earlier years: change. The sitcom failed to find a heartbeat with James Spader’s ill-conceived and poorly written Robert California, which was never more evident than with how haphazardly he was rushed out the script at season’s end. Likewise, instead of taking a chance at a new approach to the show, with the focus either on a non-manager or a “straight” character in that office, the use of Andy Bernard was effectively “Michael Scott Lite.” It was only made worse by the fact that Ed Helms’ character began to suffer from inconsistent writing and characterization.

    8) Season 6- Though many would place season 9 in this spot, there was never an excuse for the show to grind to such a comedic halt with Carell still firmly entrenched in its core. The “two manager” setup felt rushed, and the Sabre angle really ground down a lot of the feel-good mojo the show had established. Additionally, this is the first time that a season came and went that had little to no stakes for its characters, making it difficult to really connect into the story. Never was this more evident than when- for the first time in the show’s history- a lackluster season finale capped a weak offering. Nay, not lackluster- lazy and brutally unfunny!

    7) Season 1- Every show has to start somewhere. Though it began to step outside of its “British template” shell right off the bat in season 2, season 1 was always held back by a lack of clear, unique identity. Still, with every tool in the box still at their disposal, classic hysteria could still ensue even in an undefined mold. See: Diversity Day!

    6) Season 9- While most fans would rank this lower, I felt Greg Daniels’ return to sendoff the characters we adored played out beautifully, particularly on a second straight-through watch. The seasons’ themes played out both comedically and realisitically. Sure, there were a few clunker offerings, but this is the season (like it or not) that had the unenviable task of wrapping off a show with utter iconicism. Where Seinfeld “Sein-failed,” the Office rose to the occassion with three masterful final episodes. Though not quite as cohesive as previous seasons, it was clear that the creative ensemble and talent had a vision they wanted to see through from start to finish, an element that was missing from later seasons that left so many loose threads and fragmented plot lines (and lost characters!). Whether you loved or hated the general approach, that there was one elevates this final sendoff to the middle of the pack, where it would not be if it were not hysterical. Rest assured, unlike season 8, this final year is full of laughs.

    4th Place Tie: Seasons 5 and 7- Season 5 had more “sour notes,” particularly in the middle with Benihana Christimas, but it bookended with pizzazz. The Holly Flax episodes to introduce the year were classics with a classic character, Michael’s true love. And, though the show stalled in the middle, the Michael Scott Paper Company angle (which I wish would have lasted longer, say 6-8 weeks) was one of the more creative and bold angles in the series’ history. Season 7, on the other hand, may not have hit as many of the high notes in terms of quality episodes as Season 5 (see: Broke, Stress Relief), but it still offered a gallery of classics and had a clear vision from start to finish: sending off Steve Carell the right way. Michael’s journey from absurdity and into a slightly more mature absurdity was actually very rewarding. Though the season finale was overrated (and full of unnecessary publicity ploys, a.k.a. guest stars) and the DeAngelo Vickers character got mixed review (I found him hilarious), the final 2-3 episodes in Michael Scott’s journey were among the best the series has offered.

    3)Season 4- The damned writer’s strike! If not for the strike, this was on track to be another classic, albeit a notch or two below previous seasons. The season is funny throughout, and seeing the show’s brave attempt to elevate Ryan, only to turn him into the tragic hero (or is it tragic zero?)was hilarious. (Jan: “Love the beard!”) Dinner Party is one of the more unique episodes offered, a painfully awkward and hilarious take outside of the office setting. The only drawback to season 4? This is where the mockumentary angle begins to take a backseat, and where fully flushed and increasingly exaggerated characters begin to take their humor into the absurd. The show’s jumping the shark point didn’t come in season 4, but the first SIGNS of danger did originate in this campaign whenever Michael Scott drove his car into a lake. Just…just… bad idea. My only other complaint about this season is that Pam’s character takes a turn that I don’t particularly love, though I enjoy seeing her and Jim’s happiness. Increasingly, instead of a more confident and capable Pam, I started to see a more dolled up and photogenic Jenna Fischer!

    2) Season 3- This is likely the most ENTERTAINING of the seasons, but not quite the best. I reserve that for the Emmy-winning second season. Still, season 3 got absolutely robbed of repeat gold by 30 Rock (okay, 30 Rock was outstanding that season, but I truly felt season 3 edged it!). From the underrated manner in which the creators handled Jim’s transition from and back to Scranton, to Andy’s anger management, to Dwight’s return, to Michael’s face on a picture of Carol with her kids on a ski trip, this was comedy GOLD at its peak. This was also when the show still wove hysteria and sensitivity into such a seamlessly smooth web that one couldn’t help but DVR and rewatch every episode- amongst beer and with friends- 3 or 4 times per week. Easily, season 3 could have been ranked atop the list, but that honor has been awarded to…

    1) Season 2- Where the show not only established it’s own identity, but also where it became quite arguably the best single season of a comedy ever aired. I’m quite serious, and I’m not discrediting shows like Seinfeld (which was better overall) or Arrested Development (same). Nevertheless, this is the season where we grew with the characters, and- due to the rigidly and beautifully enforced mockumentary-style structure- we bonded with them as though Dunder Mifflin was the carpet on which we worked as well. Jim and Pam’s budding romance and the equal parts happiness and misery associated, the revelations that flushed out all of our favorite characters, and the week-in-and-week-out comic gold will never be forgotten. When “The Carpet,” “Sexual Harrassment,” and “Dwight’s Speech” are among the weaker offering of your season (all three of which would be considered among the top 5-10 episodes of any other season aside from 3), you know you’re not only pulling out all the stops but also nailing the execution and delivery every time! Comedy GREATNESS!

  2. jayphayes says:

    Forgot to put the best episodes- I’ll do top 3 for each:

    Season 1:
    3rd-The Alliance
    2nd-Health Care
    1st-Diversity Day

    Season 2: (How can you pick just three?)
    3rd-Casino Night
    2nd-Conflict Resolution
    1st-The Injury

    Season 3:
    3rd-The Return
    2nd-Benihana Christmas
    1st-The Job

    Season 4-
    3rd-Money
    2nd-Goodbye, Toby
    1st-Dinner Party

    Season 5- (Most underrated episode of the series: Crime Aid)
    3rd-Stress Relief
    2nd-Dream Team
    1st-Broke

    Season 6-
    3rd-The Delivery
    2nd-Niagra
    1st-Murder

    Season 7- (Most overrated episode of the series: Garage Sale, minus the final 5 minutes)
    3rd-Garage Sale (the ending really does catapult it!)
    2nd-Classy Christmas
    1st-Goodbye, Michael

    Season 8- (Sigh! Are there even?)
    3rd-Tie: The List/The Incentive (Two episodes in, I actually had hope!)
    2nd-Tallahassee
    1st-Test the Store

    Season 9- (VANDALISM, an episode most fans loved, was AWFUL. I don’t get it!)
    3rd-The Whale
    2nd-Finale
    1st- A.A.R.M. (Better than the finale, but minus the sentiment and timing!)

    • jayphayes says:

      Best and worst elements of each season:

      Season 1:
      Best- Establishing the chemistry between Jim and Pam.
      Worst- Stuck in the shadow of its predecessor.

      Season 2:
      Best- Depth/mix of emotion with comedy.
      Worst- Non-existent.

      Season 3:
      Best-An influx of new characters kept things incredibly fresh.
      Worst-A few of the transitions from branch to branch were a little jarring.

      Season 4:
      Best-Recovering from the Writer’s Strike en route to a cohesive season!
      Worst- the first signs of jumping the shark (car into a lake?!)

      Season 5:
      Best- MSPC! And, the introduction of Holly Flax.
      Worst-A noticeable midseason lull showed the series was on its potentially last legs.

      Season 6:
      Best-The Jim/Pam-centric episodes, which is surprising for me to say because my pet peeve is a fan that ranks episodes based solely on the relationship’s developments! It just so happened, Niagra, Delivery, and even Murder (not as much the latter) focused heavily on the two.
      Worst- Sabre. It made sense, but the implementation could have been better.
      And even worse- A SHI**Y FINALE FOR THE FIRST TIME WAS A SIGN that the series creative staff went to sleep!

      Season 7:
      Best- A celebration of Michael!
      Worst- Some of the character exaggeration became wildly unrealistic!

      Season 8:
      Best- Opportunities for the secondary cast to shine.
      Worst- Choosing Andy as the manager was a plotting disaster. The creators’ lost the fire to take risks and get rewarded!

      Season 9:
      Best- A clear and refocused effort to sendoff my favorite show. And, a stunningly beautiful final month.
      Worst- The implementation of Brian, though not to the degree many indicate, was a bit sudden.

  3. Wololo says:

    Season 9 was awful. Pete, Brian, and the Jim/Pam marriage issues ruined it.

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