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NBC special closes The Office door after 9 years

Posted: May 16, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.

And now, it’s finally time to bid a fond farewell to our friends at Dunder Mifflin.

NBC is paying due respect to The Office with an hour long retrospective airing at 7 p.m. today, followed by the special hour-and-15-minute series finale at 8.

It is fitting and proper that such a send-off take place because it is increasingly rare for a series to last nine seasons. In an age when some shows get canned after two episodes, only about a third of new shows in any given season make it to a second year, let alone nine.

Tonight’s emotional retrospective, produced by NBC News, includes interviews with the writers, producers and actors from the series.

On hand are executive producers Greg Daniels, Paul Lieberstein and Ben Silverman, as well as actors John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, Angela Kinsey, Craig Robinson, Oscar Nunez and B.J. Novak.

Most viewers probably know the actors better as (in order) Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly, Dwight Schrute, Kelly Kapoor, Andy Bernard, Angela Martin, Darryl Philbin, Oscar Martinez and Ryan Howard.

As with many series that come into our homes for this long, the characters frequently become extended members of our family and saying goodbye can be sad.

Many viewers remember the emotional group hug that ended The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1977. Sort of makes you want to break out in a chorus of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and turn out the lights.

And there was 1983’s movie-length final episode (“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”) of M * A * S * H with the word GOODBYE spelled out in white rocks as Hawkeye flew off in the chopper.

In 1993 we had the low key final episode of Cheers with Sam (Ted Danson) telling a customer, “Sorry, we’re closed” and disappearing into the darkened billiards room.

And Friends bid farewell in 2004 with the gang splitting up, but headed to the Central Perk for one last round of coffee.

I’d mention the 1998 Seinfeld finale, but nobody was happy with that. As far as we know, those four are still rotting in a prison cell.

The most creative finale in the history of television was in 1990 on Newhart, when Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) woke up in bed as Dr. Bob Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show. “Honey, you won’t believe the dream I just had,” he said, waking up Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife in that previous (1972-78) series.

It was priceless.

For tonight’s Office retrospective, Novak, Kaling and Lieberstein take viewers inside the writers’ room to reveal the creative process behind the series, and we get to see the actor auditions from when the show was first being developed and cast from the British original.

There will be a bunch of favorite moments highlights and a segment featuring the “thank you” to the city of Scranton, Pa., the fictional home of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. for all the years of the “mockumentary” about a gaggle of cubicle dwellers.

For the record, the series was actually shot in Los Angeles, but referred to Scranton often.

In that May 4 event, an estimated 10,000 fans turned out to show their appreciation of the show. The stars arrived in classic convertibles and posed for hundreds of photos.

Steve Carell, who played longtime boss Michael Scott, put in a surprise appearance later. Carell left the series in 2011.

What can we expect from the final episode? The biggest news is that we’ll finally get to see the documentary crew that has been following The Office gang around for nine seasons.

The finale will be set at a reunion and final interview several months after the Dunder Mifflin documentary has aired and will include past and present workers at the paper company.

There will also be a wedding, and rumor has it that Carell will make a cameo appearance. But maybe not.

The demise of The Office leaves CBS’ Two and a Half Men still the current longevity champ. That series has been renewed for an 11th season in the fall.

If you want to count animated comedies, nothing in sight will surpass The Simpsons. That series is in Season 24 on Fox.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. E-mail:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 05/16/2013

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