Feb 11 2011
If you watched yesterday’s Office, along with the rest of NBC’s comedy Thursday (66% of which is worthwhile), you can see how easily they’re setting up Michael’s exit from the show in a few weeks. For some reason he’s not even sticking around until the end of the season, and so they’re quickly pairing him off with Holly, and we can all see where this is going.
In about three weeks, Holly has gone from being ready to be engaged to a guy who she built a house to live in with, to being single, to kissing Michael. Now, since last week, the pair has already said they love each other, and by the end of the episode, they’re not moving in together. How many weeks do you give it until they’re engaged? Two? One? It’s nice to see Michael happy, and lord knows he deserves it after all this time, but this is sprinting full speed ahead past the bounds of plausibility.
But it’s clear what will happen. One of a few things will likely occur where Michael will move back with Holly and get a job either at the Nashua branch or somewhere nearby. Or they’ll both quit their jobs and open up a improv comedy club together or something.
But that leaves the big question. Who can replace Michael Scott, and more importantly, can the show survive without him? I’ve written about this before, but I’ve kind of changed my tune recently, hence this sequel post.
I used to be firmly in the camp of no, no way. They should end this show immediately lest they avoid jumping the shark for the millionth time. But recently, something’s happened with the show. It UN-jumped the shark, something I didn’t even know was possible. And the reason why? It’s focused less on Michael recently.
The Office of the past few season had started to be the Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam comedy hour. Michael soared to levels of idiocy that would make Homer Simpson blush when he did things like drive his car into a lake. Dwight became two steps shy of an actual serial killer when he actually set the office on fire. Jim and Pam wandered around aimlessly until they went from the most likable to the least likable people on the show in the span of a season or two.
But things are different now. All these characters have scaled back their unwanted evolutions. Michael is dumb, but not full retard. Dwight is no longer the focal point of every episode. Jim and Pam are tolerable again, and on occasion, funny. The rest of the supporting cast has been brought back again, with new characters like Erin and Gabe welcome, hilarious additions. Andy has been a great rising star on the show as well, and it’s hard to believe he’s been here since season three, as he just now seems like he’s coming into his own.
All of this has suggested to me that with the right leadership, the Office CAN survive without Michael Scott. The show actually makes me laugh out loud again, something it hasn’t done in years. More often than not, Michael isn’t responsible. Yes, he’s a big part of the show, the kingpin even, but I do now believe that with adequate replacement, the show can still be worthwhile. Or at least better than 90% of the other shitty half hour comedies on right now.
My favorite suggestion I’ve heard so far comes directly from Ricky Gervais who has suggested Will Arnett for the role of the new boss. It’s hard not to leap at the idea of the return of a Gob Bluth like character, though he’d have to tone it down for The Office as it’s a different sort of comedy. He can play the douchebag boss well, but can he be at least a little sympathetic? That’s something Steve Carell did exceptionally well.
I really do hope the show continues its newfound second (third? fourth?) wind. It may not be perfect, and it’s certainly suffered it’s failures over the past few years, but The Office listened and turned things around, and I think it has the potential to stick around past the exit of its main star.
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