Well known, perhaps even painfully obvious, is Entertainment Axiom #21: A "best of" or "greatest hits" compilation spells the end. There are no exceptions. It has been true for every musical entity you've ever loved. (The recent Clay Aiken compilation being simply the most gloriously hilarious). It was true for the Simpsons when they ran their first "clip" show--though the writers/producers claimed they put it out simply to placate an impossible schedule imposed upon them by Fox.
This is a truth we have to admit and face without compromise. Too often, we fool ourselves into thinking that because we like something it should continue. Face it, the world would be a better place without the final 6 seasons of M*A*S*H. The BBC has it largely right: Cancel the show while the flame is still bright. Don't give us too much of a good thing and leave us wanting less.
We therefore bid a fond farewell to The Office (American version), of which a clip/montage show aired Thursday, January 21. Even as it reminded us of how glorious the show was in its prime, the episode confirmed the vague feelings of inferiority this season with a palpable goodbye. To the viewer who claims that the vitality of the montage of past genius is a reason to continue, we simply say you are wrong: when the collective memory of the past makes the present pale, put a bow on it and get it under glass with a quickness. And move on. When I literally cried with Pam as Jim simply asked her out to dinner (a television moment never equalled by the show since, and rarely equalled by any show anywhere), I came to understand that coasting on that greatness is a mirage. In this case, one's thirst is better slaked by the memory of the past than by the false hope of future satisfaction. Let it be with Television as with Life: let it go. Please.
I don't know why American shows insist on coasting to a slow, painful death. But if The Office goes on beyond this season, it can only be as a sad tribute to the gravity incurred by the attainment of great heights, and I'd rather not witness the decent any further.