No one wanted to see him go, but go he has, gone he is. Michael Scott has up and left The Office, and much like losing a great boss at work, it was hard to watch him leave.
Even harder, though, may be finding a replacement. It must be someone who can command attention for his or her failures as well as successes. Someone who can deliver a clever-because-it’s-not-clever catchphrase or awkward complement. Someone comfortable in a woman’s suit even if he’s a man.
It’s an odd job description, but someone has to fill it as well as Michael filled out those suits from Miss-terious. Who will it be? We’ll have to wait ‘til Thursday to find out, but here are our best guesses.
5. David Brent (Ricky Gervais)
In His Favor - He’s not the biggest name appearing on the star-studded season finale (no, I don’t think Jim Carrey or Ray Romano will stick around), but his name has appeared most often in the show (he’s credited as the creator and executive producer). He’s also had a long-running relationship with NBC, thanks to the Golden Globes, Steve Carell, and, really, everyone else involved in the American version of The Office. Gervais has repeatedly tried to breakthrough as an actor here in the States with limited success. This, a long-running, well-respected sitcom on a major network, might be his best shot at stardom.
Working Against Him - Gervais and longtime writing partner Stephen Merchant are developing a comedy titled Life’s Too Short. He’s attached to write and direct, making it a bit difficult to act on a separate show.
4. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)
In His Favor - After facing his greatest fear with Dwight at the head of the office, will Jim reconsider his initial refusal of the post? Though it may come with a pay cut (assuming salesmen can still make more than managers in the Sabre system), the job security may prove enticing enough for the family man to make the switch. Also, he’s the best choice for the job, a fact even harder to ignore after Dwight’s implosion on the throne.
Working Against Him - The show’s writers have made it fairly clear over the last few seasons that Jim is much more fun as the #2 than the #1. The episodes where he co-managed with Michael weren’t a total disaster, but certainly less funny than seeing the lovable prankster pull trick after trick on Dwight, Andy, and even his slow-witted superiors. He couldn’t maintain his charming immaturity as the regional manager.
3. Will Arnett
In His Favor - This usually sought-after actor has nothing in the works other than a TV movie in post-production and the long-gestating Arrested Development movie. His iconic role as Gob Bluth proves he can play “powerful” and “dumb” smarter than anyone as well as handle a dynamic character with incredible poise. His spectacular guest star stints on 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation put him in good regard with NBC (not to mention he’s married to Amy Poehler), and his recently canceled show on Fox leaves him free as a bird to join the show.
Working Against Him - That canceled show on Fox was Running Wilde, and it was awful enough to end a career less established than Arnett’s. Will a major network take another gamble on him so soon?
2. Pam Beasley (Jenna Fischer)
In Her Favor - Diversity. The Office has been lead by white, middle-aged men since its inception and while I don’t have a problem with Michael, Jim, DeAngelo, or Dwight, it seems time for some variety in the workplace. Pam has had a terrible time fitting in since she married Jim, quit as a receptionist and was hired as a salesman. She forced a transition to her current job as office administrator, but Pam (and the writing staff) has had trouble finding stuff for her to do. She may need the promotion more than her husband, and the dynamic it would create between the couple could be hilarious.
Working Against Her - It could also be fleeting and unfunny. Any real threat to PB&J’s relationship would alienate and enrage viewers. I don’t doubt the couple’s ability to survive the change, but do we really want to watch them be tested? Also, reality might keep a married couple from holding the top two spots in the office.
1. Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson)
In His Favor - He’s the man on the rise in Dunder Mifflin. Literally starting at the bottom, Darryl has climbed the corporate ladder from warehouse worker to foreman to having an office upstairs. The company is even sending him to business school. Yes, he would add diversity to a very white corporate staff, but his true strengths lie in his solid ideas, calm demeanor, and general likability around the office. The writing staff of The Office also likes surprise hires in season finales, lest we forget Ryan Howard’s giant jump in pay grade at the end of season three.
Working Against Him - Darryl’s character right now is more of a sixth man. He comes off the bench from time to time and scores big, but he may not be ready to become the team’s star. However, recent roles in hit movies like Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine show he might be ready for the promotion.
// Notes from the Road
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