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The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

“The Office” (US): Does it Need a Reboot?

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NBC Universal/ “The Office” (US)—S5E25; “Broke”

“The Office” (US) is one of the most widely acclaimed (nontraditional) cable sitcom series of all time, ranked as number 34 on Rolling Stone’s definitive 2022 “100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” list, yet its success was arguably rooted in the ways it improved upon the incapacities of its predecessor, “The Office” (UK). But for a show already based on another, how is it possible to conceptualize not one, not two, but over three distinct spin-offs? This susceptibility to question leads me to doubt that much of a story remains to be told for the cast of Dunder Mifflin. 

 

 How Did We Get Here? 

“The Office” (US) was speculated to receive a reboot as early as 2019. NBCUniversal’s Vice Chairman Bonnie Hammer initially proposed rebooting the show “for Peacock,” the show’s current exclusive streaming platform. However, Greg Daniels, the show’s frontrunner, expressed doubt, stating definitively that “the notion of a reboot is not of interest.”  

Despite official disconfirmation, fans continued to plea. 

Previously, in a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch entitled, “Steve Carell Returns to SNL Monologue” (a faux address in a series of celebrity monologues centric to SNL—which also incidentally features other “The Office” (US) cast members), Carell (who plays “Michael Scott”) is pressured by members of the show’s cast planted within the audience to “do the reboot,” implicated by their own respective reasoning (for “dat money” and obligatory fan appeasement—“do the [dang] reboot”). 

Ultimately, however, this gag merely introduced the night’s guests and segway-ed to a commercial break. The audience’s anticipation was resolved, but the fan’s insistence remained. But can enthusiasts alone incite this undertaking? 

 

What Would a Reboot/Spin-Off Look Like? 

While the phrases “reboot” and “spin-off” are often used interchangeably, in context, both notions signify two distinctly different directorial approaches. A “The Office” (US) “reboot” would essentially re-introduce prominent, already existing characters, established with a new setting and new storyline. Alternatively, a reboot could potentially introduce an entirely new cast of characters in a familiar setting, yet with a fresh dynamic.  

On the other hand, a hypothetical “The Office” (US) “spin-off” could extract an existing character and explore that character’s legacy, branches of their extended life beyond the cubicle walls. 

 

How Could a Spin-Off Succeed/Avoid Failure? 

However, a connection rooted too deeply in the original would plausibly result in further failures. I propose for a spin-off to succeed, the show must be distinctly disparate from “The Office” (US), while still upholding its original likeness just enough to utilize its signature narrative (depicting a struggling company) and characteristic stylizations (workplace documentary). 

 

How Could a Spin-Off Fail?  

Rushing this current period of production stagnancy would only serve to create a hectic, botched, scourge of a series. Creating a spin-off with hosts of subversive characters and a paper-thin plotline would only serve to undermine “The Office” (US)’s original appeal, and possibly deteriorate the quality of an existing character. In the words of Carell himself: “I don’t think it would be as good this time around.” 

 A Tale of Two Managers 

We can find evidence of U.S. adaptations’ failure in the earliest season of “The Office” (US). 

The US version sought to effectively expand upon the universe detailed in the “The Office” (UK). However, initially, perhaps its scope was too small. In fact, the beginning of the series was approximate to the UK version; essentially an exact replica, featuring scenes transferred from the UK’s “Episode One” almost verbatim. 

This may have been in part to Ricky Gervais’s involvement with both shows.  

Ricky Gervais created the original “The Office” (UK), and his interest in the franchise would latterly lead him to become an executive producer of the “The Office” (US)—he even had a cameo in the show itself. 

Gervais served to acclimate what worked well with the source material to the US adaptation. Needless to say, however, it proved excessively difficult to combine the witty humor and downtrodden tone of the UK version with the less offhanded American demographic.  

 

Initial Failures

Kickstarter/Caput LLC

Founded on the UK’s more cynical, hostile and “edgy” take on the modern workplace, “The Office” (US) season one faced severe critical backlash. 

It was frequently called too derivative; “lost in translation.” In a manner that was in no way witty, “The Office” (US)’s first season was self-deprecating, exuding silent despair and subtle hopelessness (the continual threat of downsizing and closure is a recurring motif), characterized by what ScreenRant described as a “dreary, muted palette.” 

Other than tone, another disparaging factor lay in Carrell’s character (arguably the “main” character), Michael Scott, who had virtually no sympathetic qualities.  

Scott (adapted from the UK’s “David Brent”) was a shallow, dogmatic boss who stigmatized his workers for the sake of his own amusement. Erroneously, he sought to treat his workers like his friends, frequently assuming the role of the “office comedian,” to compensate for a lack of personability—in the words of one Reddit user, Michael Scott was “an annoying character who is stupid [just] for the sake of being stupid.” 

The culmination of these factors was so bitter that critics eventually posited that the final episode of the season, “Hot Girl,” would serve as the “de facto ‘series finale.’” 

Fortunately, however, things changed for the better, in part to a makeover. The subsequent success of “The Office” (US) may just be “in the ‘jeans.’” 

 

“The Office” (US) Becomes its Own Show 

In the newest season, Scott had a new haircut and a new love, appearing less threatening and subsequently more approachable. Essentially, Michael Scott was humanized (it was ‘intregal’ to the story). 

As the show effectively lightened up, it began to expound upon its supporting characters, providing the show with a newfound layer of sophistication, producing a variety of interestingly alternative, competing plotlines. 

Essentially, “The Office” (US) only worked when it abandoned details consistent with its source material, expanding to new, broader horizons, detailing its characters in a way that the original’s “more consistent” albeit “small sample size” was never capable of doing. The Dunder Mifflin cast slowly became redeemable and lovable in light of their idiosyncrasies. 

“The Office” (US) soon become arguably more prolific, now more accessible and “warmer” in tone, essentially pioneering the “mockumentary” style by taking a heavier risk than its source material. 

One critic stated that “The Office” (US) went “from a very funny show into a truly brilliant show.” Ensuing critical praise, Rolling Stone’s ranking of both “The Office” shows essentially “flipped,” swapping metaphorical standards and clearly defining the US version as the more influential show (how the turntables). 

Yet ironically enough, however, “The Office” (US) notoriously never won an acting award from the TV Academy, despite winning Best Comedy Series in 2006.  

 

So why does “The Office” (US) need a spin-off? Could a successful spin-off serve to rectify this injustice?  

The future is uncertain. Many proposed offshoot pitches for a “The Office” (US) “spin-off” were previously denied. Let’s take a look at the most prominent pitches and why they failed. 

 

The Cutting Board 

The Farm: The proposed synopsis of this “The Office” (US) spin-off, adapted from the Season 9 episode of the same name, featured Dwight and his kin (thoroughly established in the series’ final few episodes) working the land of family estate; hence—“The Farm.”  

Unfortunately, production would have required Rainn Wilson to leave “The Office” (US) relatively early before its conclusion. Regardless, however, after “The Farm” episode itself faced harsh reception, NBC promptly rejected the pitch.  

Uncle Stan: “Uncle Stan” was a proposed spin-off featuring a retired “Florida Stanley,” assisting in the day-to-day operations of his nephew’s motorcycle and flower shop.  

“Uncle Stan” started an unofficial crowd-funded campaign which would eventually finance an adaptation, with a Kickstarter goal set at $300,000. It soon surpassed that goal, reaching $336,450 from 1,640 backers.  

Nonetheless, the production of the show was halted during 2020, presumably due to COVID delays. Regrettably, however, it was uncovered that Leslie Baker (the actor for the character “Stanley” in “The Office” (US)) was reportedly “involved” in a crypto “scam,” ironically relating to “Stanley Nickels” (fictional currency from the U.S. show, modeled as a real-life investment). The backing funds were laundered and largely lost in this unsound business venture, prompting hundreds of frantic refunds—some of which are still yet to be fulfilled. 

Suffice it to say, the incident itself left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths (that’s what she said) and the premise of the spin-off was no longer impressionable.  

Parks and Recreation: Daniels (who adapted/developed “The Office” (US)) broadened the reach of his writing scope (including “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill”) when he joined the development team (co-creating) for a proposed “The Office” (US) spin-off starting a certain “Karen Filipelli” (played by Rashida Jones as depicted in the US version). 

However, when certain continuity errors arose (namely involving Karen’s presence in both workplaces simultaneously), it became clear that the ever-distinct cast of “Parks and Recreation” stood as its own show. 

 

Conclusion 

I venture to say that “The Office” (US) does not need a “reboot” in the conventional sense of the word, or a “spin-off” for that matter. 

Despite all its spin-offs, ultimately, “The Office” (US) was at its best when it focused on the central dynamic of its characters. 

Even if the original cast were to reprise their roles in a return to the series, prolonging a narrative that has already been effectively resolved would only serve to further wreck “The Office” (US)’s triumphant finale which concluded the series wholly and completely. 

There’s a chance that a story still remains in “The Office” (US)’s loins, but in my opinion, its better simply to imagine furthermore the constant back-and-forth buffoonery amidst a “no nonsense” office, haphazard, controversial relationships interwoven about the workplace and a contemporary business struggling in the modern world, shaped by the legacy of Michael Scott. 

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