Well, it was only a matter of time, but since Michael Scott (Steve Carell) left the Scranton office of Dunder Mifflin, the branch has never been the same and on Tuesday, it was made official that NBC would be ending its most successful comedy over the last decade after its upcoming ninth and final season.
Truthfully speaking, as much as we loved The Office, the show had been on kind of a downward swing since about the sixth season. Last year when it was announced that Carell would be leaving the show that he headlined for seven seasons to focus more on his film career, we all knew that was code for “getting out while you’re still on top” because as talented as Carell is, there’s no way he couldn’t have seen the decline in the quality of the writing that the rest of us certainly did.
That being said, we were actually excited about the shake-up of the cast that was announced at the end of last season (we wrote about it, here.) as we thought that the best way to bring some new life into a series like The Office was to bring some new cast members in and a fresh perspective. Well, not only was the interview episode from the end of season seven absolutely hilarious, but the addition of James Spader as Robert California was a much-needed breath of fresh air that really brought the series back to its former glory, even if only for a little while.
Unfortunately, eight seasons into a series is a little too late to be reinventing yourself and when Michael Scott left, so did the many loyal customers in his Rolodex that had been tuning in for seven years on Thursday night. The Office‘s ratings, though not awful last season, weren’t really good enough to sustain a series for any long stretch of time and with costs of production continuing to rise every season while the revenues decrease, NBC Universal understands that the future outlook for the series lies in syndication home video nad digital distribution deals (read: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.).
And to add further credibility to the final season, Greg Daniels has returned as showrunner, the position he held for the first five seasons. It doesn’t seem to be much of a coincidence that Daniels left after season five and that’s when the wheels started to fall off. It’s not that The Office has jumped the shark, it’s just that they’ve gone back to the well one too many times and there hasn’t been anything left.
From Deadline Hollywood:
“It was a hard decision [ending the show] but this is going to be a real gangbuster season,” added Daniels. The producer stressed that creative closure was the primary reason behind the decision to end the series. “Certainly we’re not leaving for any reason other than that one,” said Daniels. “This year feels like the last chance” for The Office to have “an artistic ending.” With The Office still ranking as NBC’s highest-rated scripted series, Daniels said he feared the network might want to “cling to it” when he approached NBC executives with the idea of ending the show. “It’s actually a big surprise to me that NBC was so supportive of this decision,” he said. “We all had a lot of passion for it and persuaded them.”
NBC is to be commended for this because far too often have we seen what should have been legendary shows stick around too long for their own good and tarnish their reputation as a series while furthermore making their final seasons completely forgettable. Honestly, does anyone remember the last two seasons of That 70’s Show after the major cast members left and the excuse of why they were gone was written so horribly? FOX should have cut the show loose two seasons earlier but they got greedy which is why That 70’s Show will never be remembered for the status it once held and it will never be a post-first run revenue generator like The Office will no doubt continue to be… just like Seinfeld.
NBC learned a thing or two from Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld had plenty of material left in him as did his writers and producers when he decided to end the “show about nothing” and NBC did NOT want to let it go because it was the highest rated show on television and was just printing money. Seinfeld was under no contract to keep the show going and insisted that the show end in its ninth season, while it was on top.
From the New York Times, December 26, 1997:
”I wanted to end the show on the same kind of peak we’ve been doing it on for years,” said Mr. Seinfeld. ”I wanted the end to be from a point of strength. I wanted the end to be graceful.”
…And Seinfeld did exactly that, earning the highest ratings of its run in its final season and being forever remembered for all time as the best comedy in television history. Now, is The Office as good as Seinfeld? No, not even close, because Seinfeld is simply in its own class (and deserves reverence), however it’s safe to say that The Office is definitely one of the top twenty-five television comedies of all-time and that’s quite an achievement in and of itself and that’s how the series will be remembered.
Now as for whether or not Michael Scott will return, Daniels said that he’d love to see it but he doesn’t want to put any pressure on Steve Carell, either, so… we’ll see.