By Rachel Krueger
Steve Carell made the more-or-less-already-official rumors official when he announced that he really will be leaving “The Office” after his contract is up in 2011, thoroughly surprising everyone who thought “That will probably be my last year” was Italian for “I’m holding out for teh moneys.”
I like “The Office” as much as the next girl-who-watched-the-first-three-seasons-zealously-and-then-started-watching-seasons-in-fits-and-starts-and-sort-of-ran-out-of-steam-circa-Christmas-and-hasn’t-really-gotten-around-to-finishing-this-season-yet. But I feel like by this point people mostly only watch it because hey look, it’s on.
Because all of the major categories of Things That Happen have been exhausted. Whole new slew of characters, for up-shaking purposes? Check. Michael Scott leaving and setting up a rival company, with hilarious and predictably faily results? Check. Ryan the Temp becoming a corporate bitch? Hella check. Jim and Pam finally hooking up, Jim and Pam finally getting married, Jim and Pam having a baby (no “finally” here; this shit is shotgun)? Checkkkkk. Other than minor variations (uhhh, maybe Andy gets pregnant? Phyllis takes off her shirt at the Christmas party this time?), all the good jokes have bin dun.
Predictably, though, people have started shouting random, nonsensical shit to drag the glory out a few more seasons. A Dwight-and-Mose spin-off! Replace Carell with Charlie Sheen because it worked for “Spin City” (did it work for “Spin City”?)! Throw Creed on some water skis and bring in a shark! People hate to see a thing they love die with dignity and grace.
And the Seinfeld Precedent is being evoked on both sides. Granted, “Seinfeld” made it to 10 seasons before exiting the scene (“The Office” is only going into its seventh), the cast left while the show was still funny, or at least ratings-y. Carell’s departure leaves “The Office” on a knife’s edge between refreshedly hilarious and unspeakably bad, and a good stiff breeze could blow it either way.
The mighty peacock should take advantage of this natural pinching off point and let “The Office” join the ranks of those few shows that chose when to leave the party. I’d hate to see it stick around, becoming increasingly disheveled and ornery, until it gets kicked out on its ass.