Since Steve Carell decided that the seventh season of The Office would be his last, millions of fans have been wondering who would replace him. At the end of the season viewers were treated to Will Ferrell and a promoted Rainn Wilson as interim leader, but as of now there is still no one to fill Michael’s “World’s Best Boss” void.
There has no doubt been endless discussion on the part of the writers over which big name star can step in as the new manager of the Dunder-Mifflin Sabre Scranton branch, with Will Arnett, Ray Romano, James Spader, and even Jim Carrey “interviewing” for the job in the season finale, but now it seems the producers might be leaning towards a different direction.
In mid-June it was announced that Spader was in talks to join the show full time, first as the new boss, and then immediately promoted to corporate, possible the best creative way to continue the show. Even more so then dramas, it is always difficult to replace the center of a half-hour comedy. Ensemble or not, the show has been built around Steve Carell’s quirky character for seven years, and bringing in a new lead as manager will unquestionably leave viewers divided and critical of his replacement. Even Carell had a tough time stepping into a roll that most people felt was a lackluster copy of the Ricky Gervais’ UK character, but he had seven years to grow into and own his character. Going into season eight, the show is closer to the end then the beginning, and the focus should be on ending on a high note creatively.
What NBC should do is promote one of the existing characters, such as Jim, Darryl, or even Andy to the role of boss, but keep their character as a supporting role. Each of them in Michael’s chair would keep some continuity to the series for the long time fans, while at the same time refocusing the show on this outside person. By bringing in a quality actor like James Spader, someone who isn’t a replacement, but really a new role altogether, the interplay between the branch and corporate will breathe new life into the series. Whatever the outcome, Michael, the Dundies, Prison Mike, and that “World’s Best Boss” mug will live on in repeats for years to come.