×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The post-Carell future of ‘The Office’

NUP_137000_0091
Nothing’s over until it’s over, and it’s never too late for me to be gullible, but Steve Carell sure doesn’t seem to have a hidden agenda in telling E! that he plans to leave “The Office” after the coming season.

“I just think it’s time,” Steve told our Kristina Guerrero. “I want to fulfill my contract. When I first signed on I had a contract for seven seasons, and this coming year is my seventh. I just thought it was time for my character to go.” …

“It doesn’t certainly mean the end of the show. I think it’s just a dynamic change to the show, which could be a good thing, actually. Add some new life and some new energy … I see it as a positive in general for the show.”

From Carell’s perspective, this isn’t exactly a Shelley Long or David Caruso. Carell has already established a movie career, plus it’s not as if he has ruled out a return to television in a different series. Beyond that, a certain amount of fatigue with his role on “The Office” is understandable, especially after last season’s inconsistent campaign. And let’s put it this way: If Carell hasn’t built up a financial nest-egg by this point, he’s got bigger problems than what he’ll do after he stops being Michael Scott.

As for “The Office,” Carell’s departure is a wild card. An exit storyline could help revive the series, which suffered through its worst season creatively this past year, and a new cast member for ensuing seasons could further invigorate it. But the Carell news doesn’t eliminate the bigger question for the series: What of the writer/producer fatigue?

In other words, what happens in front of the camera, even with Carell, is not as important as what happens behind it. “The Office” needs to breathe direction into all its characters; it needs a commitment to story arcs rather than the kind of waffling that went on in 2010-11. (To be clear, I still enjoy “The Office,” even if it’s not the transcendent comedy it has been.)

NBC has other considerations besides creative ones to address — “The Office” doesn’t have to be perfect to be worthwhile to the network after Carell’s proposed exit — but not even the Peacock wants to see the sitcom limp through its final days. It’s sort of a reverse Catch-22: The better the comeback for “The Office” this year with Carell, the more encouraging it will be to carry on without him.

More TV

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

  • FILE - In this April 5,

    CBS Claims Commitment to Ending Harassment. Its Actions Say Otherwise (Column)

    At this point, a new breaking sexual harassment case at CBS isn’t exactly a surprise. Over and over again, powerful CBS company men from producers to executives to the ex-CEO himself have made headlines for propagating decades of harassment and abuse, with dozens of witnesses affirming that the pattern was business as usual. But as [...]

  • Willow ShieldsVariety Portrait Studio, Beautycon Festival

    'Hunger Games' Alum Willow Shields Joins Netflix Drama Series 'Spinning Out'

    Willow Shields has been cast in a series regular role in “Spinning Out,” the upcoming ice skating drama series at Netflix. She joins a cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario, who was announced as the series lead on Thursday, taking over the role originally held by Emma Roberts. Shields will star as Serena, Kat Baker’s (Scodelario) [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    James Corden's Fulwell 73 to Develop Sci-Fi Drama at CBS (EXCLUSIVE)

    CBS is developing a drama series that hails from James Corden’s production company, Fulwell 73, Variety has learned exclusively. The series is titled “Embody.” In the series, after a mission gone wrong renders her permanently blind, a special agent volunteers for an experimental government program that can temporarily transfer her consciousness into someone else’s body, giving [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content