Many of us continue watching "The Office" out of some misplaced sense of obligation.
Limping through its seventh season, the gang at Dunder-Mifflin has grown stale, leaving you to wonder what the heck is Will Ferrell doing sleepwalking through his string of appearances as the supposed new boss of the Scranton branch.
But when it came time to say farewell to Michael Scott in Steve Carell's final episode Thursday night, the show managed to pluck the proper bittersweet notes in sending him off in an unexpectedly low-key goodbye.
Except for a paintball fight with Dwight in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot — was anyone surprised that Dwight keeps his car's trunk stuffed with paintball armor and artillery? — this was an episode devoid of the goofy antics that made Michael, for better and for worse, a clownish cad of a boss.
It was a bit hard to believe that the Michael Scott who never misses an opportunity to draw attention to himself and his Threat Level Midnight exploits would willingly skip out on his going away party. He also displayed an amusing sense of self-awareness missing most of the show's run. Giving Oscar a creepy sock puppet as a going away gift and laughing afterward because he knew Oscar and his "I'm so much smarter than my boss" attitude would not even pause to question what looked like the work of a toddler, you knew that Michael was finally in on the joke that is his life in Scranton, and he was OK with it.
Maybe the show was trying to reveal a more mature Michael Scott, one ready to choose marrying Holly over the office family he had worked so furiously to cultivate.
There were enough nuggets of humor to keep the show going in the coming weeks — a wounded Gabe struggling with Erin's decision to dump him, Andy saving the sale that new boss Deangelo all but torpedoed, Oscar's gaydar going off as Angela prattles on about her state senator boyfriend and his affection for antiquing and inline skating with his male aide.
But when Jim figures out that Michael aims to slip away to Colorado a day early to avoid an emotional farewell, well, things got a bit dusty as the two shake hands and make plans for lunch the next day, both knowing that Michael will be long gone before their lunch date.
Do you have to believe that it's credible for Jim to call Michael the best boss he's ever had?
Probably not, but that was the sendoff Michael needed, capped with a farewell hug from Pam at the airport. Having Michael take off his microphone at the end and acknowledge the TV crew that has been following him and the rest of the Scranton branch was a nice touch.
It almost left you hoping for a flash forward to a Boulder get-together with Toby's jam-making brother (my favorite moment of the episode), but it's well past time for Michael Scott to move on.