We’re starting up a new series, TV Top 10s. Given that one of the all-time best shows for my friends and I to talk about remains “The Office,” I thought I would run down the Top 10 episodes of the series that everyone in our generation has watched a thousand times. That resulted in a 2500 word behemoth of an article that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. For real, I don’t think anyone would ever actually finish reading it. So I split it into 2 articles. I’m sorry in advance, but you’ll get the second part tomorrow. So it’s not all bad.
Honorable Mentions: “Golden Ticket” (S5, Ep. 19), “Gay Witch Hunt” (S3, Ep. 16), “Product Recall (S3 Ep. 20) “Beach Games” (S3, Ep. 22) “Threat Level Midnight” (S7, Ep. 17), “Basketball” (S1, Ep. 5)
10) “Broke” – Season 5, Episode 25
Directed by Steve Carrell, Written By Charlie Grandy
What Happens: The Michael Scott Paper Company tries to get extra labor to deliver their paper, only to realize they are actually broke. However, their sales torpedoed the Dunder-Mifflin sales so significantly that David Wallace has come to bargain. While the initial buy out would give Michael, Pam, and Ryan $60,000, Michael demands for their jobs back. The battle between Michael and Charles concludes, and Michael takes back over Scranton Branch.
Why is it Excellent?: The Michael Scott Paper Company was one of the very best experiments the show ran while on the air. The only thing that I don’t absolutely love about this series of episodes is how short it ran. It was the best the show ever used Ryan and gave Pam to grow. The scene where they demand their jobs back is still excellent, and while no one on the internet has made the “run it again” GIF, it remains one of the funniest jokes in the series. It also showcases Idris Elba as the goddamn villain he is (he’s seriously the best guest star in the entire series). The culmination of the Michael Scott Paper Company episodes is the best of the episodes and continues to stand out.
9) “Goodbye, Michael” Season 7, Episode 22
Directed by Paul Feig, Written by Greg Daniels
What Happens: It’s Michael Scott’s last day. He has to say goodbye to everyone in the office.
Why is it Excellent?: Each of the individual goodbyes are hilarious. A few are extremely touching. His relationship with Dwight is cleaned up. Dwight gets him back one last time by feeding him “Rocky Mountain Oysters” and shooting him with paintballs. The Jim and Michael moment is extremely touching and an excellent send off. Michael trying to see Pam one last time is also extremely sweet, only to be paid off with Pam running through the airport after him. Perhaps the best moment in the whole episode is when Michael begins to have second doubts, only to call Holly and immediately have his fears assuaged. This should have been one of the top episodes.
However, enter Will Ferrell. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ferrell (I literally just wrote a retrospective of “Semi-Pro”). Ferrell distracts in multiple moments, and while it was necessary for the Andy moments in the closing episodes, it was a mess in this one. It actually drops the quality of the episode as a whole.
8) “Casino Night” – Season 2, Episode 22
Directed by Ken Kwapis, Written by Steve Carell
What Happens: There’s a charity event in the warehouse. Michael accidentally has 2 dates for the evening (including Jan). Jim is uneasy about hanging out with Pam before she gets married. He reveals he’s asked for a transfer. Everyone at Dunder-Mifflin has a great time. After Roy leaves, Jim finally professes his love to Pam. She tells him she can’t leave Roy and that he misinterpreted things. After he walks away, Pam goes upstairs to her desk and calls her Mom. Jim enters the office and kisses her. They stare at each other, and we cut to black.
Why is it Excellent? The progression of Jim and Pam’s relationship is one of the big pieces at play here. After all, it’s often misattributed as Pam and Jim’s first kiss (that would be “The Dundies”). However, it’s still an emotional night. Watching Jim agonizing over the night is tough. His line “there’s nothing for me in Scranton” is tough to watch. This is the last episode we ever really get Jim and Pam flirting with each other before they actually get together. Pam’s phone call to her mother shows her vulnerability and true feelings.
While Jim and Pam’s relationship takes center stage for much of the episode, “Casino Night” also features some great small moments for our characters. The Angela/Dwight relationship gets a great slap. Kevin has one of his funniest jokes in the whole series. Creed is his creepy and weird self. Michael’s bashful and unsuave as always. Even Tobey gets a shot in at Michael.
7) “Business School” – Season 3, Episode 16
Directed by Joss Whedon, Written by Brent Forrester
What Happens: Pam has an art show. Michael is a guest speaker in Ryan’s class. A bat gets into the office. Jim pretends he is turning into a vampire to freak out Dwight. Dwight captures the bat using Meredith.
Why is it Excellent?: As someone who has recently transitioned into a world where I can really push to follow my dreams, this episode really speaks to me. Pam’s efforts feel about right, and the hurt she feels when things don’t go her way is real. Yet that support, even if just from one or two people means the world. This is one of the best Pam and Michael moments in the entire series, if not the best one period. The Jim prank on Dwight is top 10, and Dwight trapping Meredith in the sack with the bat is hilarious. This is a deep episode that sneaks up on you.
6) “Niagra” Parts 1 & 2- Season 6, Episode 4/5
Directed by Paul Feig, Written by Greg Daniels & Mindy Kaling
What Happens: Part 1- The Office goes to Jim and Pam’s wedding. Andy tears his scrotum and Michael outs Pam’s pregnancy to her family.
Part 2 – Everything goes wrong for Jim and Pam’s wedding. They show up late and wet to their own wedding. Jim and Pam got married at Niagra Falls.
Why is it Excellent?: Do I even need to explain? Jim and Pam got married! We waited for this for 6 years! It was adorable, the office messes everything up as usual, but they come together as a family. It’s one of the last perfect episodes before the show began to run a cavalcade of guest stars through it, starting with Sabre later this season. If it wasn’t for Michael Scott leaving, this might be the last great episode of the show.