At this point, midway through its sixth season, it seems that with every episode of The Office we are taking the temperature of the series, gauging if it’s on the decline, on the way back up, or holding steady. It’s unfair, and ultimately a disservice to the show and the viewer. However, it’s the truth, and it’s going to continue, especially because this is a show that has exceeded expectations and reached rare levels of brilliance but has also always seemed to be walking a tightrope. Can the show continue once Pam and Jim get together? Will it lose it’s direction after Pam and Jim get married? Will the magic chemistry between the ensemble cast run out? Or will the writers no longer be able to supply interesting but plausible office-related storylines? Even though the show has been so consistently damn good, there’s still this pervading feeling that all the inventive writing and superior acting could disappear one week, never to return. While we have not actually been faced with this reality, we learned last night that the employees of Dunder Mifflin are very much in this predicament, as it seems all but certain that the company will file for bankruptcy. While we have been fearing a sudden, painful demise of The Office, the characters are now fearful of a sudden, painful demise of their office. It’s a new storyline that hopefully, while putting the employees on the chopping block, allows the show to continue to flourish.
Which is not to say that last night’s outing, “Murder,” was a real step towards silencing doubters.