That’s the question we find asking asking hot on the heels of yet another big announcement that has Ray Romano and James Spader joining the parade of guest stars (Including Will Arnett, Ricky Gervais, Catherine Tate and Will Ferrell!) paying a visit to Dunder Mifflin Sabre in an effort to help fill the void left by a soon-to-be-departing Steve Carell.
Look, we get it. NBC is understandably terrified that one of the few success they’ve had over the course of what’s coming up on almost a decade of disaster is losing its most valuable asset. That said, if the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien debacle taught us anything, it’s that nothing screams failure like operating from a position of fear.
After-all, was not one of the major charms of THE OFFICE, not to mention a big part of the success of the show these past seven seasons the fact that viewers were actually able to believe that a placed like Dunder Mifflin could exist. By casting then relative unknowns such as Rainn Wilson, John Kraskinski and Jenna Fischer, viewers were not only able to completely buy into the conceit of the show, but eventually become part of the small, passionate and very vocal group of fans who had a hand in saving it, spreading the word those first two lowly rated years.
What’s more, we’re not the only ones who feel (actually, make that felt) this way. As evidence by the way in which THE OFFICE eschewed big names — who were more than likely clamouring at the Network’s door during the show’s heyday — in lieu of character actors (See: Pam’s parents at the wedding), executive producers Greg Daniels and Paul Schur consistently sent a clear and concise message throughout Hollywood: Big names need not apply. To the point that in an interview with IGN, executive producer and showrunner Greg Daniels even went as far as say he’d prefer to leave the stunt casting to shows like 30 ROCK, “It’s the best of all possible worlds… is for them to stunt cast [as our lead-in.]” Added co-executive producer Paul Schur in an interview with Zap2it, “Because [THE OFFICE] all takes place in one room, we always felt like it would be very distracting [to have high-profile guest stars] on that show.”
Which is precisely why we hope the proverbial powers that be know what they’re doing, because at this point, the only thing that could frighten us more about the way in which NBC is handling the start of the post-Michael Scott era is if Dwight somehow managed to become his replacement.