If you are a fan of the popular NBC show, The Office you may have noticed on last Thursday’s episode the return of, the “star”, Ed Helms. Some people may have missed his character and some might have thought his sabbatical wasn’t long enough. I objectively ask the question, why did he leave in the first place? Each characters’ role in The Office has had ebbs and flows, but the boss has always been the one consistent star of the series.
Steve Carell decided to take his talents elsewhere two seasons ago, and to be fair, it would be hard for any series to recover from losing that type of star power. However, The Office has been in a complete tailspin since his departure.
The baffling decisions of the shows’ creators go back to when Carell’s character first left the show. (Was it was the terrible decisions that forced him to walk?) They had a 3 episode arc consisting of interviews for Michael Scott’s successor. This is where we saw heavy-hitters such as Jim Carrey, Will Farrell, Will Arnett, Ray Romano, an others. In Season 8, they ultimately decided to go with an existing character, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms). Questionable decision? Maybe, but the creators had an entire off-season to make sure this was the right way to go. Once Episode 1 premiered, there should have been full commitment to this decision. Without commitment and a plan, the writers left themselves open to be swayed by public judgement.
After a rocky start with Helms at the helm and less than desirable ratings, The Office decided to travel to Florida and follow the shows other biggest stars Jim and Dwight on a business trip. This was a clever way to go back to the drawing board on how to fix Andy Bernard. After a month-long brainstorming session-The Solution: Send Andy to Florida. More Jim and Dwight! Upon Andy’s return, was his immediate termination. To change bosses after not even a full season shows instability and inability to adapt to Carell’s departure. But again, if the writers fully committed to this change it may have salvaged the season. Instead of sticking with their original choice, that the show needed less Andy, they decided it would be easier to bring him back, totally throwing internal logic out the window. For those who haven’t seen the show, Dunder Mifflin, the company mockumented in The Office, is bought by their ex-CEO and recent-millionaire thanks to his “toy-sucking vacuum” being bought by the military. The Office was beloved for how authentically it depicted an American workplace (With exaggerated hijinks of course). This stunt, threw any credibility that remained on plane to wherever Michael Scott flew to. It turns out that this millionaire, David Wallace, was a friend of Andy’s (Really? When?) and hires him back. It turns out, millionaires love buying companies producing near-obsolete goods.
The madness didn’t stop there. For Season 9,the series’ creators were a lot more impatient. I don’t know if it was predetermined that the show would end here but it sure seems like they are throwing in the white flag.
If you watch previews for The Office, it seems as if the show is trying to go out with a bang with such story lines as Jim and Darrell getting new jobs at a sports marketing agency, new young characters that possibly lay the groundwork for a spinoff, and most notably the featuring of the tech crew that has “filmed” the mockumentary for 9 years. Due to lack of direction or passion, it feels more like a whimper. This season is filled with recycled romantic story lines and no real progression towards closure.
Back to the character of Andy. No season of The Office with Andy as the boss would be complete without an unrealistic departure, and most likely a return. This season Andy has barely even been present when early on we learn his parents go bankrupt and his brother (Josh Groban) is an alcoholic. The only way for Andy to clear his mind and save his family is to leave on a 3 month boat trip. Tonight, we will see what the repercussions of such a leave of absence will have on his job. It will most certainly result in his firing, because how else would they keep him from being in the sitcom. But don’t worry because I am predicting a far-fetched plot twist that brings him back into the fold right before the series says goodbye forever.
The Office is in its final season. I can’t say I am stunned the show is such a boring mess. Typically, after 2 or 3 seasons a show is never as funny or good and after a 5th or 6th six season a show is dead. Many programs proactively end their series after 5 or 6 seasons to avoid this fact (Why do networks resist HBO and FX so much?). Maybe we should cut the writers some slack for The Office’s twilight years, but I hold it to a higher standard because of how revolutionary it was and how universally liked it was at one time.
With half a season left, who knows what ridiculous turns The Office will take. Regardless, I cannot possibly see it redeeming itself in the next 12 episodes. Especially, if an entire crew of writers repeatedly fail to create funny and compelling story lines with a boss not named Steve Carell. If anything, the show can still survive as a comfortable lead-in to the still-funny Parks and Recreation or a good example of how not to wrap up series for current and future “Must-see Thursday” sitcoms.
Whatever comes of this season or Ed Helms’ character I will still watch The Office begrudgingly and angrily commentate because after nine years its too late to pull out now.
she he said?…Damn, thought I was setting up for a good one. Oh well, watch this: