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The Boston Globe

Television

Critic’s Notebook

‘The Office’ thrived in awkward moments

One of the virtues of series TV is that it goes on. The writers can roll out stories over time; no need to condense plots or stunt characters. No need to force a conclusion. When a character gains weight — or maturity, or a conscience — it happens over months or years, in a more lifelike fashion.

And one of the curses of series TV is that it goes on. And on and on and on. NBC’s “The Office,” which wraps up its nine-season run on Thursday, has stayed far too long at the fair, as most fans would probably agree. The hugely influential show, along with Ricky Gervais’s original UK “The Office,” changed TV comedy for the better, but then it succumbed to the bane of American TV — the endless more-more-more of anything good or popular, the twisting of characters into pretzels to simply keep them in motion, the cheap substitutes after lead actors depart. “The Office,” like too many good shows before it, including “Frasier,” “The X-Files,” “M*A*S*H,” “Roseanne,” and “House,” leaves us wanting less.

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