In watching some of the more recent episodes of NBC's The Office I have noticed that the show has lost much of the original appeal that has attracted me to the show. In seasons 1-3 the show seemed to be much more grounded, it involved situations that were somewhat realistic the characters seemed like real people. The episodes tended to be more focused on workplace situations and the larger issues of the plot were advanced naturally through genuine interactions between character within these situations.
As the show progressed it seems that the characters have become more like caricatures. Much of the humor in the earlier seasons came from the way the eccentric characters interacted with normal characters. Every character in the show was essentially a "straight man" while Michael and Dwight provided the crazy unrealistic elements. The show was often funny because either Dwight would do something ridiculous or Michael would try very hard to be funny but the other characters would not think that he is funny.
While in older episodes the larger plot issues essentially worked in the background and were naturally advanced through the smaller issues with the show. It seems in more recent episodes that the larger plots are thrown into the episodes much more overtly and it does not always seem justified. One example is the recent episode in which the characters play a "murder mystery"kind of game. Don't get me wrong, this episode had it's moments and the performances of the actors defiantly make the show worth watching. However, to me it felt like the were willing to threaten to have the entire company go under just to provide an excuse for all of the characters to talk with southern accents for an entire episode. I still enjoy the show to some degree but I wonder how many seasons that even shows that are interesting and creative can go before becoming stale.