“The Office” ended its season Thursday night with a big question purposely unanswered: Who’s going to be the new branch manager when the show picks up again in the fall?
The show welcomed a long list of guest stars playing potential candidates for the job, ranging from Will Arnett to James Spader, and also had a couple current cast members interviewing for the position. We want to hear your opinions in the poll below, but first let’s run down the candidates.
For starters, we know that Ray Romano, Arnett and Warren Buffett won’t be joining the show. Romano and Arnett are both committed to shows of their own (“Men of a Certain Age” and NBC’s new “Up All Night”), and Buffett is A) not an actor and B) probably wouldn’t want to take the pay cut. We can probably also rule out Jim Carrey (although we really liked the reveal that he was the guy who needed time off right away to go to the Finger Lakes).
So that leaves the following people (character names in parentheses):
James Spader (Robert California): Spader got as much screen time as any of the guests, and his character, a very confident man with a background in sales of heavy industrial equipment, had a couple very funny moments (we especially liked his confrontation with Dwight in the building lobby). But it was a very Spader-esque performance — i.e., it was more than a little weird. Would that work week to week on “The Office”?
Catherine Tate (Nellie Bertrum): The reported frontrunner among the show’s producers is a fantastic comic actress and seems like she would fit in well with the cast. But as we noted in our recap of “Search Committee,” the character came off as a bit of a crackpot. If the show wants to avoid a blizzard of “female Michael” comparisons, Nellie would need some retooling.
Ricky Gervais (David Brent): Pretty unlikely. As David is fond of saying, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
Craig Robinson (Darryl Philbin): Jim’s apparent favorite botched his interview pretty badly, but he’s a known quantity that everyone in the office likes. We’re big Darryl fans, but we can’t recall if the character has ever been the central focus of a primary story on “The Office.” Does the fact that he gets along with everyone mean there’s less possibility for comedy?
Ed Helms (Andy Bernard): With Gabe being shipped back to Sabre HQ, Andy’s candidacy may have a little better chance. But the show has also spent considerable time in recent episodes noting how bad a salesman Andy is. He may well have other skills that make him a good manager, but he’s not a closer the way Michael Scott was. Andy’s also come off as Michael-lite in a lot of episodes; if the show wants to track a different way, Helms might not be the choice.
Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute): On the one hand, he wants the job more than anyone, and in his brief time as manager many aspects of the business ran smoothly. On the other hand, he also shot a gun in the office, and he has dangerous tendencies toward autocratic management.
John Krasinski (Jim Halpert): Jim as manager has been tried before, and it didn’t work very well, for the character or for the comedy. But he stepped up at the end of “Search Committee” and could be a dark horse.
Who do you think should get the “Office” job? Vote in the poll below and discuss it in the comments.