Will The Office Return for a Ninth Season?
It's Time to Call It Quits
Spring is near and the hearts of couch potatoes everywhere will soon flutter in anticipation of the news regarding TV shows which will or will not be picked up for the fall.
While I expect The Office to warrant ratings to justify its return, I do not see the show coming back for a ninth season. There are two main factors in this decision.
The first factor is creative burnout. After eight seasons, roughly 150 episodes, and numerous web-based episodes, I think the well has run dry. The Office, which was created by (and starred) Ricky Gervais, ran for only twelve episodes and two specials on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Gervais strongly felt that the show should not burnout and focused on quality rather than quantity of episodes. He also was involved in a number of other creative ventures including writing a book, standup comedy, and creating other shows.
The Office, with a simple, one camera setup and a mockumentary style approach to chronicling the eccentric behavior and fragile egos involved in daily office life, has been a worldwide phenomenon. There have been versions of the show in a number of countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and Sweden.
The US version of the show has been the longest-running of the franchise, and the subsequent exposure has been a boon to the acting careers of its cast.
Original show lead Steve Carell left after the seventh season to focus on his burgeoning film career.
Film and other acting jobs have beckoned for cast members, and this will be another factor in the show not returning in the fall. Many of the cast have number of film projects in the next 24 months. They are just too busy to focus on the sitcom.
Ed Helms (Andy Bernard) has four films in development, not counting the much-rumored Hangover 3, which he and fellow principal cast mates are alleged to be negotiating for a $15 million payday-each. How would he find time to put his energies into another 22 episodes of The Office?
Jenna Fischer (Pam Halpert) has been on maternity leave after giving birth to a son last fall. Despite the rigors of a show and being a new mother, she has two films coming out-one this year and one next year.
Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) has one film coming out and continues to be the face and hair of Clairol Nice and Easy Hair products.
Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon) is a relative newcomer to the show. With the success of last year’s Bridesmaids, she is increasing her film appearances and will appear in the film version of 21 Jump Street later this year.
Meanwhile, news of developments regarding two cast members of the show pretty much point to their departures if the developments pan out:
Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) is rumored to play Dwight in a spin-off of the show tentatively set for mid-season 2013[i]. The show would feature Dwight on his beet farm which also serves as a bed and breakfast. Several episodes of The Office have been set at the farm. In addition, Wilson also has a film coming out in 2012.
Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor) has been given a green light for a Fox sitcom pilot. The show would star Kaling (who would write and produce) as a doctor balancing her personal and professional life. [ii] She also has a film coming out later this year.
Juggling the schedules of these very talented and busy people will be a logistical nightmare.
I think it is time for The Office to wrap up their story lines and call it a day. They have enjoyed a long, successful run, despite some critical drubbing in the beginning. Unhappy reviewers unfavorably compared the show to the original version. Since then, it has found an audience and has been favorably included among a number or “top” show lists.[iii]
Before they take their final bow they need to take a page out of the original version and remember the unseen constant unseen cast member and storyline driver-the documentary crew.
The UK version did two wonderful specials that showed what happened to the people chronicled in the documentary that were among the show’s funniest moments.
So far, the only acknowledgment of the crew was when Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, was running through an airport, en route to a new life in Colorado. He turned to the camera and said, “You let me know if you ever finish this thing (the documentary).”
Surely the fictional documentary, when it is finished, will be a thing of beauty.