‘The Office’ might return. Should it?
Quibbl wonders how successful or relevant the show would be without the presence of the gullible and lovable former regional branch manager, Michael Scott.
By Mikheil Shamugia
NBC has yet to confirm the return of this Emmy winning series, so the discussion about the potential series’ revival for now is a bit speculative. Nevertheless, ‘The Office’ is arguably one of the most popular shows among viewers today and it is acquiring an even larger fan base now that it’s on Netflix. The show premiered on March 24th of 2005 and followed the general template of the original UK series created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The first season was almost the exact replica of the UK version and seemed not to sit well with the American audience, which led the producers to make a few alterations: they made the lights more colorful, introduced and developed supporting characters and made Steve Carrell’s character more likable. In its second season, the show gained 2.60 million viewers and gained critical acclaim. Although the aforementioned number significantly declined in the last two seasons, the series still had its devoted fan base.
‘The Office’ seemed to follow two general plotlines: the never-ending one-man show of the branch manager Michael Scott – constantly idling around the office harassing his employees, and the romantic fairy-tale between the receptionist (Pam Beesly) and one of the office salesmen (Jim Halpert). Both of these narratives were successful in early seasons, but neither of them sustained long enough to possibly extend the lifespan of the show: Jim and Pam’s love affair never really ceased, but definitely lost its intensity and charm when it was made public; as for Michael Scott, he was the bread and butter and the main comedic contributor – his childlike indiscretion and narcissistic caprices is what formed the main contours of the renowned sitcom. The comedically humorous (as Michael Scott would say) and melodramatic elements of the show blended well together, until both of them got scrapped. With 60% of ‘The Office’ being immature, but guileless compilation of Michael Scott’s regalement and the other 40% the tension-filled fervent moments of the two lovebirds, the show significantly declined in quality during the last two seasons.
The vacuum created by Steve Carrell’s departure was temporarily filled by the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin Robert California, played by James Spader, who handled the incoming strenuous challenge surprisingly well; his effortless menace and intimidating persona fit right into ‘The Office’ disarray and helped him become one of the memorable and prominent characters of the series. The character’s peculiarities soon became eminent and distinguishable. The office fool was replaced by the self-assured shady intellectual, who managed to capture some of the highlights of the series. Nevertheless, Spader’s time at the show came to an end after about a season, after which the cast conversed with the producers to steadily start finishing up the series.
The progression of the series clearly showed that a strong figurehead and one distinctive, conspicuous character is wanting. If NBC is indeed looking to revive the cult hit, they have to find a truly worthy substitute for Michael Scott and Robert California, because without a such personage it seems that they cannot sustain success for long. The final season of ‘The Office’ lacked the humorous aspect which was so excellently delivered by the previous bosses, and was instead filled with mawkish overly sentimental segments which for the most part were excessive and over the top. Emotional pieces were rushed and cluttered, and although they partly served their purpose, they were still vague and encompassed so much of the show, not leaving any space for other necessary plot lines. Considering the difficulties associated with finding the right match for the demanding part, it’s also worth noting that Robert California wasn’t even considered to be on the show and was chosen as an episodic actor. Other cast members’ return at this point is also debatable. Angela Kinsey (Angela) and Jenna Fischer (Pam) said they were not approached by the network as of yet, however both are eager to return. The reports also said that a mix of new cast members would join the show. All in all, reforming and reinventing the concept of the show may in turn reinvigorate the energy and bring back the old ratings.