If you were expecting a parenting post, a Catholicism post or a current events/ethics post, I’m sorry. This is not one of those.
No, this is a post about a subject very near and dear to me, who will replace Steve Carell as the boss on The Office. Tonight is the big reveal in the one hour season finale and we have been teased in commercials by the presence of such actors as Will Arnett, Ray Romano, Jim Carrey and Mr. Office himself, Ricky Gervais (among others) who are tossing their hats in the ring as possible new bosses. I don’t say “replacements” because no one could ever replace Michael G. Scott at Dunder Mifflin/Sabre and certainly no one could replace Steve Carell playing the character of “Michael G. Scott.” Which is why, when Carell announced this would be his final season on the show, producers wisely chose to write his character out and introduce an entirely new boss to the scene.
The future of The Office is uncertain (although we know it has not been cancelled) without Carell who was best known as a correspondent for the Comedy Central faux news show The Daily Show who in the 2000 presidential election asked Senator John McCain about pork spending while McCain chaired the budget committee (when McCain stopped short, Carell couldn’t keep it together and busted out laughing and saying, “I’m just kidding!”). Steve Carell took The Office, an American version of the original BBC “The Office” created by and starring the aforementioned Ricky Gervais as the “boss,” and created something special out of it. The BBC version only lasted one season, its US counterpart, is on its ninth. While the cast is a wonderfully crafted ensemble that includes two of the show’s most talented writers (BJ Novak as temp-turned salesman-turned exec-turned disgraced convict-turned drug addict-turned salesman-turned temp Ryan Howard and Mindy Kaling as Indian-American customer service representative Kelly Kapoor), one of its producers (Paul Lieberstein as Human Resources manager and Michael Scott nemesis Toby Flenderson), and a host of formerly under-appreciated actors and actresses some of whom found their jobs in funny ways (Phyllis Smith was originally working with the casting company reading with actors when she was cast as Phyllis Lapin-Vance), it has centered around four main characters and their interactions: Michael Scott, Manager (Steve Carell); Pam Beesley Halpert, former receptionist, former salesman and now office administrator; Jim Halpert, senior salesman; and Dwight K. Schrute, salesman and owner of Schrute’s Beet Farm. Michael typically found himself in all kinds of managerial mishaps that somehow involved the others (primarily Dwight); while Pam and Jim flirted, dated other people (with Pam being engaged to former warehouse employee Roy Anderson (David Denman) who was fired after attacking Jim for confessing he liked Pam after Roy and Pam had broken up), and ultimately ended up married and with a daughter, Cecelia aka CeCe. Dwight was the sometimes competitor and sometimes co-conspirator with Jim. He desperately wants the manager’s seat left warm by Michael’s departure. Michael’s character was the axis while the others were spokes radiating off of it. Pam might never have found out Jim’s crush on her if Jim had not confided in Michael who then spilled the beans to the entire office.
With a new manager come decisions, lots of them. Such as, will the story line continue to be primarily about the manager and his underlings and their relationships? Or will the show instead focus on the supporting cast and their interactions? A lot hinges on the choice of new boss. The show will undoubtedly go in a new direction and whoever has been cast as the new manager will probably give some insight to that. In addition, the show’s creators will also be working either with or around Jenna Fisher’s recently announced first pregnancy. Will they write in a brother or sister for CeCe or will Pam be hiding behind file cabinets and plants most of the season? The pregnancy also introduces an interesting idea for bringing Steve Carell and Amy Ryan (as Michael’s love interest Holly Flax for whom he left Scranton to be with as she cares for her parents in Colorado) back for guest starring appearances. Michael wanted desperately to be CeCe’s Godfather; would Pam and Jim consider their old boss (with whom each exclusively among the other office workers had a private good-bye with) for a new baby’s Godfather?
In addition to the looming question of who will become the new manager is the important question of if the series will survive in the post-Steve Carell era. Certainly other shows have survived the loss of major characters previously. M*A*S*H survived losing McLean Stevenson as Henry Blake , Wayne Rodgers as Trapper John and Larry Linville as Frank Burns and welcomed equally enduring Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman Potter, Mike Ferrell as BJ Hunnicutt and David Ogden Stiers as Charles Winchester not to mention the loss of Gary Burgoff as Walter “Radar” O’Reilly. Cheers came through after the loss of Shelley Long as Diane with Kirstie Alley as Rebecca. Some shows have seen a drop in interest after the loss of such characters that they could never survive such as when Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace’s characters Michael Kelso and Eric Foreman, respectively, were written out of That 70’s Show when both actors decided they wanted to explore new opportunities. (Making it more interesting that Kutcher is now replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.)
And it’s not as if The Office hasn’t incorporated new characters in the past without success. Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Ellie Kemper as Erin Hannon, and Zach Woods as Gabe Lewis have made great additions. But none of them replaced a previously beloved character and so this is uncharted territory.
I am fairly certain that none of the big name mentioned in the commercials will be the big boss (although I will readily admit I could be way off on this). My guess is that it is going to be someone we may already know. Jim or Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson) are my guesses. After Dwight discharged a loaded firearm in the office last week, I’m pretty sure Jo (Kathy Bates) is not going to hire him. My case for Jim is that he has previously worked within the power structure of Dunder Mifflin and only stepped down once Sabre took over to allow Michael to keep his job. For Darryl, he has some awesome ideas in the office, and we already know Jo likes him as the first time she met him, she took him out of the warehouse and put him in an office on the third floor. Andy may have an unfolding story line getting back together with Erin or at least keeping her and Gabe apart not to mention he is in fact and self-admittedly, the worst salesman in the Office (despite recent successes in his motivational speaking gig and his save after DeAngelo Vickers’ (Will Ferrell) fumble). Ryan is unlikely due to his previous assent and free fall from power. I would hope Gabe’s name never comes up on anyone’s short list due to his general bladness and the fact that the entire office sees him as an interloper. Not to mention he is blinded by his ambition to win Erin back. Stanley, Phyllis, Creed, Kelly, Angela, Oscar and Kevin all are out of contention because they all just don’t have the power behind them (and seriously, Kelly or Angela running the office???) . Toby is a dark horse. Although Michael had a deep-seeded resentment for the guy, the rest of the office seems agreeable to him and something tells me it would be very interesting.
So, I conclude this exceptionally long post about a television show by saying I will still be watching The Office no matter who is selected as the new boss. I will miss Steve Carell terribly and will hope for the best.