We're going to find out who's going to be the new lead on The Office relatively soon, within a couple of months. But there's still no solid leads as to what we can expect. Will they keep it within the office, promoting Andy, Dwight or Darryl to the head spot? Or will they bring in someone new? There have been a few tantalizing names thrown about, including Will Forte and Will Arnett, either of which would be pretty amazing.
I've got to think that they'll add someone new rather than promoting from within. All of this hype about finding a new replacement for Michael would lead fans to be disappointed if it's just a reshuffling of status among existing characters at the end of the day.
But beyond who it'll be is also the question of how it'll change the tenor of the show. For as many new characters the show has added and as much has happened over the course of its seven seasons, Steve Carell's Michael Scott is still the heart of the show. To replace him is to change it in a completely fundamental way. Will Arnett is amazing, but his energy and tone is completely different than Steve Carell's. Would he fit in that world? What would his character be like, and how would it interact with the rest of the cast? It's a tricky proposition!
There have been plenty of criticisms levied at The Office for going downhill over the past couple seasons, and I wouldn't disagree with them. That being said, this season has been a definite improvement over the last, with a refocus on formerly minor/new characters and the fading of formerly major characters to secondary roles. The writers seem to know that in order for the show to continue for an extended period of time, they need to almost treat this as a gradual transformation into a new show or spinoff. Otherwise, they run the risk of ending up like The Simpsons; with a set of characters that have been through every situation imaginable, leaving them almost nothing grounded left to do.
And it's tempting to see this entire process as NBC greedily extending a show past when it should be extended. Well, can you blame them? The Office is still the highest-rated show in its Thursday night lineup by a serious margin. Like Parks and Rec? Well then you should be rooting for The Office to keep existing at a high level of quality and popularity, otherwise it'll lose a lead-in that's responsible for a not-insignificant percentage of its ratings.
So this changing of the guard doesn't just have big ramifications for the future of The Office, but of NBC's entire Thursday night lineup as well. It's a huge risk they're taking, one that could blow up in their faces if it's not done well. But I've got to be optimistic that they'll bring on someone who, rather than replacing Steve Carell in order to keep the show chugging along as it has been, instead brings new life to the show. I like the idea of thinking of season eight as somewhat of a reboot of the series. If the trends of this season continue, the main characters in the show will almost all be completely different than they were in the first season.
What do you think? Who's going to replace Michael Scott, who do you want to replace him, and just what kind of show will The Office be next season? Let's talk about it, friends.