For me, there’s no other way.
I like to power rank just about everything. That’s not an exaggeration. I power rank brands of coffee, chicken wings, flavors of Doritos, movies starring Eric Roberts. You name it and I’ve likely power ranked it mentally if not pen to paper.
The Office is my favorite television show ever. Literally my favorite and I’m not sure another show is close. I began watching faithfully with the second episode (I missed the pilot initially) and never wavered. I even was loyal during the DeAngelo Vickers, Danny Cordray and Andy is becoming a huge unlikeable prick eras. Since The Office ended in 2013 I’ve binged it start to finish no less than six occasions, not to mention the dozens times I’ve watched specific episodes.
That said, the one thing I never did is power rank every episode.
A few months ago I turned on Netflix to restart the series. However, this time I did so armed with my laptop and an Excel spreadsheet. I created 185 lines on that spreadsheet, one for each episode (there’s technically more than 185 but I count each double episode singularly) and as I watched each, I started power ranking them. Before moving to the next, I’d figure out where on the sheet the previous episode fit. It was easy for the first few seasons but obviously developed into a time and thought consuming process as the series rolled on.
Honestly, it perhaps took more time and energy appraising each episode’s spot on the power rankings as well as taking (plenty of) notes for each than it did to binge the entire series. As you’ll see over this six-part series, I’ve penned well over 20,000 words and gathered countless clips and images along the way.
For context, I started this binge and power ranking process more than three months ago.
So we’re clear, I didn’t have any explicit formula for assessing and power ranking episodes, so obviously it’s a completely subjective list. I will say series significance, memorable moments, funny quotes, fun surprises and character development scenes as well as laugh out loud, and tear jerker moments all factored heavily. Essentially the more I laughed, the more I cried and the more I felt rewarded for investing in watching the show resulted in a higher power ranking.
Starting today and concluding next Monday, I’m doing this over the course of six installments. If you miss any I’ll have links to previous posts on the bottom of each.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce these power rankings are just the start of things when it comes to The Office here. After this I’ll be soon launching a semi-recurring segment on my Moran-Alytics Podcast called “The Finer Things Club.” I’ll have a rotating panel of segment guests— sports media folk, athletes and other personalities who are fans of the show to talk about specific seasons, episodes, moments, characters, plot lines and much more.
I’m over the moon excited about starting that project soon. If you’re a fan of The Office or know people who are, trust me now’s the time to subscribe to the Moran-Alytics Podcast on Apple Podcast/iTunes, for free of course.
On that note, Let’s dive into this series with a start that’ll always leave you satisfied.
That’s what she said.
185. Pam’s Replacement (Season 8, Episode 7): By this point of the series I’m completely over Pam and never was that more emphasized than this episode. I think I legit grew to hate Seasons eight and nine Pam. She basically picks a fight with her loving, faithful husband because she’s fat and knocked up while the new temp she’s training before she departs for maternity is hot. Now, in fairness it turns out Cathy indeed does end up having the hots for Jim but still, that’s not on him. Allowing Jim to take a lie detector test (of sorts) administered by Dwight at a drug store is too much, Pam. This episode also included “Kevin and the Zits” jamming out in the basement during lunch, only to have Robert California come down and take over, calling two of his buddies and essentially forcing Andy, Darryl and Kevin from their own jam session. It’s an unfunny, uneventful, mostly meaningless episode—one of the very few during The Office run that made me regret tuning in.
184. Roy’s Wedding (Season 9, Episode 2): Roy treated Pam like shit pretty much for the entirety of their relationship then apparently learns his lesson as he not only falls in love and marries someone else, but secretly learns how to play the piano and takes singing lessons to make her fee special. Naturally, Pam and Jim start to question if their relationship is boring. Guess what—at this point it was. Also, maybe if Pam didn’t spend a large chunk of her engagement to Roy playing flirtsy with Jim, her fiance may have been more inclined to do sweet things.
183. Lotto (Season 8, Episode 3): So, a six-person staff wins a total of $950K in a lottery and quits. That’s less than $160k per person before taxes. While that’s a handsome sum of money I wouldn’t exactly call retiring off it a scholarly life decision. Also, Daryl’s fortunate Andy’s a total pushover because his insubordination should’ve led to his immediate dismissal. I liked Darryl through a lot of the series. This episode wasn’t one of those times.
182. Christening (Season 7, Episode 7): Jim and Pam do a piss poor job of planning their baby’s christening party and pay the price. Michael and Andy nearly go to Mexico to help build a school—OK, sure. The lone redeeming moment of this otherwise lackluster episode is Toby fearful of walking into the church.
181. Dwight Christmas (Season 9, Episode 9): The worst of the nine Christmas episodes throughout the show’s run. Don’t really have much more to add.
180. Vandalism (Season 9, Episode 14): The documentary cameraman (Brian) saves Pam from an attack by warehouse worker Frank after she revenges him for ruining her warehouse mural, which is the third time we’ve seen Brian over the last season and three times more than I cared to. There was a great Kevin moment when he sticks up for Oscar and Angela by calling the Senator a terrible person. It’s not enough to save this episode from being near the bottom.
179. The Banker (Season 6, Episode 14): This is essentially a highlight clip episode. I loathe highlight clip episodes, which tells you how I strongly I feel about the small handful of episodes ranked below this. Sure, memory lane is fun but I’ll take something new just about every time. Rolling out a highlight clips show is essentially mailing it in for that week. Thankfully this was the only highlight clips episode of the series.
178. The Promotion (Season 6, Episode 3): This was the third episode where Jim and Michael are branch co-manager, and they struggle to find a way to distribute a shrunken budget for raises. Not great. Funny moment as Pam is asking coworkers for money in lieu of gifts for their upcoming wedding yet Ryan cons her into giving him an investment check for a startup company he’s working on.
177. Safety Training (Season 3, Episode 20): Michael nearly pulls a stunt that would’ve resulted in severe bodily harm, if not death after being upstaged by Darryl in a training class. One of the precious few episodes over the first three seasons I didn’t enjoy at all.
176. The Carpet (Season 2, Episode 14): Jim’s forced to work in the back for the day after someone defecates on Michael’s rug (It was Packer) and at the end of the day he returns to his desk to a slew of voice mails on his phone from Pam. Clearly she missed him being merely a few yards away.
175. Sabre (Season 6, Episode 14): Jo Bennett’s first physical appearance (she appeared via video conference the episode before). Meh.
174. Spooked (Season 8, Episode 5): Lousy Halloween episode where Erin learns Andy’s had 31 dates with a girl she didn’t know about. Universally people think Season eight was far and away the show’s worst season. Episodes like this gives said opinion credibility.
173. Causal Friday (Season 5, Episode 26): Meredith dressing half-naked for Casual Friday is eventful. Most of this episode, however, is not.
172. Survivor Man (Season 4, Episode 11): The multiple birthday celebrations at once idea by Jim shows he’s much more equipped to be in sales than he is manager. We also find out Michael isn’t exactly surviving out in the wilderness material.
171. Stairmaggden (Season 9, Episode 19): The Senator outs himself as gay at a press conference and kisses his Chief of Staff, much to the shock and horror of both Angela and Oscar.
170. Tallahassee (Season 8, Episode 15): I didn’t like any of the Florida episodes, although Dwight trying to work through an appendectomy did have me chuckling.
169. The Incentive (Season 8, Episode 2): Now a manager, Andy tries to inspire the sales team by a point system that results in everyone pooling points together to force Andy into a tattoo on his ass. In the end they get him a Nard Dog tattoo, which was a nice moment in an otherwise irrelevant episode—quite often par for the course in Season eight.
168. Andy’s Ancestry (Season 9, Episode 3): Nellie plants a seed in Pam that Jim’s having an affair on her. Of course he’s not, he just hasn’t told her about the Philadelphia Athlead opportunity yet. He does during this episode and they hug, but a camera shot post-hug shows a shook Pam because Jim hadn’t told her right from the start. This was one of the first of what would become several tense moments between the two that had many fans triggered with Pam. I’d be remiss to not mention the cold opening that featured Asian Jim.
167. Job Fair (Season 4, Episode 17): This episode was fine for what it was when viewing but later in the series I’d come to have a problem with it. Let me explain. During this episode with the job fair being at Pam’s old high school gym, she says on camera how she used to do everything imaginable to avoid gym. Of course, near the end of season five we learn she’s an expert volleyball player who not only played in high school, but also college. Big time plot hole here.
166. Mafia (Season 6, Episode 6): Having the idea put in Michael’s head that the inept insurance salesperson is in reality a Mafioso was pretty funny.
165. Trivia (Season 8, Episode 11): Who knew Kevin, Kelly, Erin and Meredith were smart? For one moment in time, they were.
164. Dwight Schrute, Acting Manager (Season 7, Episode 24): Dwight is acting manager. This should go great and possibly become permanent unless Dwight ends up accidently firing a gun in the office. Oh shit, Dwight, you just accidently fired a gun in the office.
163. Doomsday (Season 8, Episode 6): Not a great episode by any means but Gabe trying to kick it to Val was highly entertaining. As you’ll see multiple times in these power rankings, I consider Gabe an underrated character on the show.
162. Michael Scott Paper Company (Season 5, Episode 23): It’s the debut of Erin, who’s real name is Kelly but the office ends up using her middle name so there’s no confusion with co-worker Kelly Kapur. Of course, Erin would go on to become a mainstay through the rest of the series.
161. Todd Packer (Season 7, Episode 18): Always thought Todd Packer was overrated. Still, some good moments from this show, including Pam saying she’s “full on corrupt” after allowing Daryl five sick days in exchange for not dropping dime that Pam got Andy a new computer. Also, Michael clearly choosing Holly’s side after Packer insulted her was a strong move.
160. Get The Girl (Season 8, Episode 19): When Andy romantically (in his mind) decides to drive to Florida on a whim to win Erin back, Nellie forces her way into Andy’s branch manager role. She cements the support of the office by giving everyone raises during their performance reviews, of course of which she knows nothing about their actual performances. I was never a huge Nellie fan but this was good stuff.
159. Did I Stutter (Season 4, Episode 16): Stanley disrespects Michael publically—one of the handful of times Stanley is the centerpiece of an episode. Just didn’t move the needle for me and felt like a throwaway episode, as nothing changed between the two after it.
158. Free Family Portrait Studio (Season 8, Episode 24): Dwight sets up free pictures for children of employees, attempting to get DNA from Angela’s son, who he suspects is his. David Wallace buys back the company and Andy is named manager again. We learn for sure that Angela’s husband (the senator) is gay by the way he touches Oscar’s arm. Was a decent episode but pretty mediocre for a season finale. Sorry, I got the bar set high.
157. Ben Franklin (Season 3, Episode 15): Pam’s outwardly annoyed by Jim and Karen’s relationship. Michael’s inability at Bob Vance’s stag party to deal with a stripper (Elizabeth) who had previously appeared is hilarious. In his mind he’s cheating on Jan by having a lap dance. Fans who are anti-Pam get more ammunition when she tells Ryan she’s ready to be set up with one of his business school friends, pretty much in front of Jim.
156. The Search (Season 7, Episode 15): Holly finds a missing Michael on a roof, admits she missed him and they start kissing. That’s a cool scene for sure, but Gabe’s facial expressions over being made fun of by the office easily steal the show here.
155. The Farm (Season 9, Episode 17): Todd Packer’s last show appearance as he returns to the office to make amends as part of an alcoholic and narcotics recovery process, But instead of being sincere he hands out cupcakes laced with laxatives and drugs. We also find out Dwight and Ester like each other, certainly meaningful leading into the stretch run of episodes.
154. Couple’s Discount (Season 9, Episode 15): The laughs aren’t here but this episode matters. Erin breaks up with Andy and does it in his office, which unintentionally leads to David Wallace learning Andy left for three months. She then kisses Pete (Plop) outside. Pam and Jim share lunch with Brian to find out more info about the documentary and Jim learns Pam cried after their fight (few episodes prior) and Brian knew but not him, which makes him angry.
153. Heavy Competition (Season 5, Episode 24): Dwight was giving Michael intel for the Michael Scott Power Company but Dwight ends up selling him out because he feels Charles Miner shows him more respect. Michael and Dwight make a truce but Dwight breaks it, leading to Michael then steals Dwight’s biggest client. I hated the short-lived Michael Scott Paper Company era but the Michael vs. Dwight dynamic here was pretty good.
152. Dwight’s Speech (Season 2, Episode 17): Dwight wins Salesmen of the Year and has to give a speech he’s afraid to (which he ends up killing after Michael bombs) Pam’s wedding planning at the office, which bothers Jim and he decides to book a vacation at the exact same time of her wedding. You get a solid look at Jim growing increasingly frustrated over Pam’s engagement to Roy.
151. Employee Transfer (Season 5, Episode 6): The love of Michael’s life, Holly, is transferred to New Hampshire after David Wallace finds out they’re dating. This insanely bothers me about as much as any storyline in the series. After all the years of loyal service from Michael and a long history of employees dating each other, why couldn’t David just force the lovebirds to immediately file the necessary paperwork with Toby? Sure, they should’ve filed before but still—the punishment handed down from David far exceeded the crime. This is the manager of the branch, the only branch that has consistently made you money. The only reason I don’t have this ranked lower is that the episode carried heavy significance—Holly breaking up with Michael when she quickly realizes the long distance relationship won’t work. Plus, Daryl comforting Michael on the trip back is a rare tender moment between the two and Dwight walking around the office in Cornell gear to piss Andy off was hilarious. Shit, I should probably have this higher because of Dwight and Andy.
(Follow Patrick Moran on Twitter @patmorantweets
COMING TOMORROW: (Part 2) The Office Episode Power Rankings, 150-121.