That's What He Said
Could Ricky Gervais step in for the departing Steve Carell and save The Office?
Look out, Dunder Mifflinites: There are changes ahead in Scranton.
After seven years as the office manager Michael Scott, Steve Carell formally announced that he will leaveThe Office after the 2010-2011 season.
But though The Office is full of characters fans have come to love — Jim and Pam, Dwight, Stanley, Phyllis — Michael Scott is the bumbling, bloviating center of the show. Can there be an Office without Carell? If so, will it still be funny?
NBC has not commented on Carell's statements, but even without the star one can assume NBC will hold onto its top-ranked scripted show with the vice-like grip Kelly Kapoor uses in her relationship with Ryan. But who can replace Michael Scott?
A boss that's too staid could easily suck the remaining fun out of the show — after all, who wants to watch a real paper supply company function? And while a number of sketch comedy actors like Will Forte, Will Arnett and even Kristen Wiig have been floated as possible replacements, bringing in an outsider capable of working within the rhythms of the show while also creating a memorable character will require a certain level of familiarity and fame.
For this, show creator and executive producer Ricky Gervais might be the best substitute, reprising his role as manager David Brent from the original British version. But like Carell, Gervais has a burgeoning film career and may not want to be saddled with such a commitment on American television.
For my money, Jason Bateman might be the perfect outsider to replace Carell. As Michael Bluth on three beloved seasons of Arrested Development, Bateman has showed he can shine as the still-interesting straight man in a sea of chaos.
Another choice for a new boss is promoting a Dunder Mifflin staffer. While in the case of Jim or Dwight that might upset the balance and risk altering trademark behaviors, there is someone who has the Michael Scott weirdness to pull it off: Ed Helms as clueless Ivy Leaguer and wannabe Andy Bernard. Helms, like Carell, is a veteran of The Daily Show and has a breakthrough movie under his belt — 2009's The Hangover.
Either way, any actor replacing Steve Carell has some big shoes to fill. And yes, that's what she said.