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Spin (Re)Cycle: Still Conflicted About "Office" Spin-Off

Sigh. A day later and I am still feeling just as conflicted about untitled The Office spin-off--announced yesterday as part of NBC's grand-design massive 52-week programming initiative--as I was then.

Let's be honest. As much as I loved The Office, this current season has been terribly sub-par thus far. Not helping things were those disastrous hour-long installments that kicked off the fourth season; they put an incredible strain on both the writing team to subvert their normal format and to production which had to cope with a Herculean workload. The results could be seen clearly on the screen and yet NBC has opted to order more of those extended installments--four hour-longs, in fact--to kick off the 28-episode fifth season in September.

So why complicate thing further still by ordering the producers to create a spin-off series for The Office in the middle of a current season that saw production shut down by the writers strike? But NBC didn't just stop there: they went ahead and announced the damn thing... but still clearly have absolutely no idea what the actual series will be.

Says The Hollywood Reporter:
Announcing the series at the network's upfront news conference in New York, NBC Co-Chair Ben Silverman said the entire Office creative team is behind the spinoff, but declined to detail the new show's premise.

"The watermarked idea will not be shared today," Silverman said. "You may see some of the [original Office] actors on the other show."
So basically, we might see some Scranton-based characters... or we might not. Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Ben.

The official press release, put out by NBC immediately following the unveiling of the schedule, does nothing to clarify things either: "Audiences will follow another comic journey, complete with new faces and new locations, but with the same unique sense of humor and brand of quality from Daniels and his creative team. It's the next chapter of what viewers have come to know and love about The Office."

So the spin-off will feature "new face" and "new locations." Could they be any more vague?

All of these signs point to the fact that the spin-off still lacks a concrete plot, focus, and characters. So what exactly then has NBC ordered to launch on February 1st after the Superbowl? That's an excellent question.

Regardless of the answer, I'd rather the creative staff on The Office focus their energies on improving the original series than splinter their attentions with a misguided spin-off. In the end, this whole premature announcement seems like it was masterminded by someone with roughly the same intellect as Michael Scott himself. I'm just waiting for some gladiators or a talking car to show up in the spin-off.


Melissa said…
J, I agree. This seasons episodes have been really disappointing, those hour-long ones were particularly painful. I do have hopes for their return. We've been hearing about how great this dinner party episode is since Jenna was promoting Blades of Glory.

I am very worried about this spin-off. But I also was VERY worried about The Office before it launched. We talked to Carrell as it was in development and he told us he thought it was going to be great, and it still is, even with some misteps.
Anonymous said…
I couldn't agree more. I said most of these things all day yesterday when people would ask. Or even just sometimes to myself.

I think the biggest issues are -

spreading themselves too thin. They must repair THIS season.

the spinoff curse. Most comedy spinoffs do not become Frasier. They mostly become The Ropers. The failure rate is high and it can impact the original brand.

I worry.
The CineManiac said…
I'm betting the schedule ends up looking nothing like the one they announced by October.
Unknown said…
Maybe the "spinoff" will be a US version of Extras, which would actually be really exciting... especially if the casting is as perfect as with the US version of The Office...
Anonymous said…
Argh! Why are they doing more hour long eps! I don't know anyone who liked them. The sad thing is, I think the concepts were great and could have been really funny as 1/2 hours but they were stretched and padded and mangled until they bore no resemblance to The Office we know and love. Save the hour longs for Christmas or finales or something that actually warrants the extra time!
Anonymous said…
I have to say I disagree greatly...this season so far has been the second best yet, behind season three. The hour-long episodes were just fine...the second halves were just as funny and worked and felt like separate episodes and I highly doubt as many people would be so critical of them had NBC aired them as individual episodes.

Anyhoo, I'm willing to give the spin-off a fair chance and I'll wait to see it before I judge one way or the other.

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