A few months back, Steve Carell sent the internet into a tailspin when he mentioned on BBC Radio that the upcoming season of The Office would be his last. Eventually, we all calmed down and assumed NBC would figure out a way to bring him back. Or at least we convinced ourselves of that. Turns out, we were wrong. While doing press for his new flick, Carell told multiple sources that he’s standing firm on his decision to leave after his contract ends.
But of course, as he also mentioned, NBC has no plans to end its highest rated comedy. So what happens now?
First, the negatives. As someone who has re-invested their love in The Office this summer through DVD viewing, I’m definitely sad that Carell’s Michael Scott will be leaving Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Despite my issues with the series, Carell is always fun to watch and just seems like a wonderful guy, so I like spending a half hour with him each week. Moreover, keeping the series on after its leading man exits screams of desperation from NBC. But I’m not sure they have a choice. The Office is literally its only viable scripted series, despite its quality issues. If all the other actors are under contract, it’s coming back, period. This is especially troubling based on the declining quality we witnessed during season six.
On the positive side: This could be the creative kick in the ass the series needs. Season six was full of bad ideas and missed opportunities and with its leading man on the way out, not only would season seven have more narrative drive, but the following season would have to be at least partially interesting since the new boss would be in place.* Right? Please tell me that’s a possibility.
*What would really be great is a revolving door of major guest stars that stick around for a half-dozen episodes before realizing that the insanity of DM-S is too much for them. That would be fun, interesting and help the writers see what kind of personality the fans would react to.
Though there will be literally hundreds of articles written just like this one between today and next spring, I might as will discuss it: Who in the hell replaces Steve Carell?
NBC isn’t going to want the series to just promote Jim, Dwight or Andy because they can’t sell that as well. Someone new is definitely coming. The performer who takes his place has to be different enough without sacrificing the humor. We can’t have another guy who is socially inept or deaf — why not just promote Andy in that case? — but hiring a straight man/woman seems like an odd choice as well unless they can land a major performer who could play it straight and bring the comedy. In any event, the series doesn’t need another Michael but it also doesn’t need someone who cares too much about the work being done, because we’ve already seen that with Charles and a little with the Sabre people.
Thus, without further ado, here are some people who I think could handle the role, both in terms of the comedy and the buzz NBC would like to obtain. Sure, some of these people are probably unobtainable, but at this point, this is just a brainstorming exercise anyway, right?
I know he’s moved on to Parks and Recreation and I’m fairly certain he’s under contract as a regular, but I’d love to this man on The Office. It seems to make sense that the new hire would be some young gun from Sabre, and although that might feel like a retread of Ryan’s promotion in S4, a more modernized Dunder Mifflin could work better without Michael’s resistance. Plus, maybe the new guy can actually be a friend to Jim, or perhaps better, a more legitimate rival. OR maybe Dwight and Jim then team up against this new, chill dude. Scott might be too similar to John Kransinski in his ability to be dry and sarcastic, but I like other work has proven he can also be more overtly funny. He’s probably unable to leave P&R and not a big enough name, but I just want more Adam Scott.
Quick follow-up performers that could serve a similar role: Adam Brody, Zach Braff and if we’re talking females, Lizzy Caplan
Someone in the comments section of Sepinwall’s post on this matter suggested him and now he’s replaced Scott as my number one choice. Oh my lord could you imagine the awkwardness of having a creepy, steely, intense boss played by Michael Emerson? One that although very creepy, has somewhat of a good heart? I think Emerson is a big enough TV name now that NBC could build something around him, and we know that he can hold his own with the dry humor. I’m not sure if ABC has any of the Lost folks on holding deals, but thinking about this just makes me smile with excitement.
Quick follow-up performer that could serve a similar role: Kiefer Sutherland, and for the ladies, Glenn Close
Portia de Rossi
I think NBC will definitely be thinking about bringing in a woman, and I’m not sure any candidate would be better this fine lady. She’s a comedic veteran at this point, thanks to awesome performances on both Arrested Development and Better Off Ted. Moreover, those two characters were different enough that I think de Rossi could pull off a multi-faceted character who could command the room, but also be enough of a lovable goofball. The big question is whether or not she’s a big enough name at this point.
I know he has The Good Guys in place right now, but let’s be honest, that series isn’t going to last. Whitford surely has a good relationship with NBC. He could play a know-it-all type from corporate that wants both Sabre and Dunder Mifflin to go way beyond their current potential. He could give lots of uplifting speeches about the future of the American economy. He could be completely idealistic to an annoying degree. Okay, so maybe I’ve been watching too much West Wing, but c’mon!
Quickly, here are some folks who are nowhere near possible of getting, but could be interesting in a role: Jason Bateman, Hugh Laurie, Sarah Silverman.
One more thing before we go, here are just a list of people who NBC would consider before all of these folks, people who are also not funny or surely totally wrong for the role: Dane Cook, Carlos Mencia, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Ken Jeong.
Who are your picks? Should the series even continue?