On Wednesday, Deadline.com began the rumor mill by announcing that NBC was considering an Office spinoff starring Dwight, Schrute farms, beets and the whole Schrute family. The show would be slated to begin sometime in midseason of 2013.
According to Deadline, the genesis of the spinoff started with actor Rainn Wilson and Office executive producer Paul Lieberstein (a.k.a Toby). A Deadline source is quoted as saying, “Paul and Rainn have been joking for years about Dwight’s life on the farm, his family and how ill-suited he is to run a B&B. A while ago, it started to feel like a show to them. NBC agreed, it’s been further developed to include multiple generations, many cousins and neighbors. At its base it will be about a family farm struggling to survive and a family trying to stay together.”
Considering the poor track history of TV spinoffs (think Joey, The Brady Brides, Baywatch Nights), the proposal may initially come as a bit of a surprise. In fact, can you name even one or two spinoffs that went on to become successful? However, The Office has been one of NBC’s great pickups. Winning an Emmy in 2006 for best comedy series, and still drawing more than 6 million viewers per week in its eighth season, The Office has become the staple brand of NBC.
If the spinoff is indeed in the works, it could signal for this to be the final season of the network’s prime-time draw. With Rainn, hypothetically, leaving to start the spinoff, and Ed Helms, John Krasinksi and Mindy Kaling all unsigned for next season, this could be the end of NBC’s most successful show. Could the show possibly continue without Andy, Jim, Kelly and possibly others? Doubtful. And as critics have opined, it may be for the best. After Steve Carell’s departure, the remaining core characters, and an infused James Spader as Sabre CEO, have been unable to save the show’s ratings from declining.
TV shows rarely last as long as The Office. For every Friends (10 seasons) and Cheers (11) there are dozens of shows that barely make it to a third season (wishfully hoping Whitney falls into this category), let alone past the pilot. And for those that do enjoy a long running voyage, few end with their dignity and ratings still intact (see Smallville). So, whether or not the spinoff becomes a hit with the 18 -49 demographic that has sustained Jim, Pam and Dwight’s long run, perhaps it’s all for the best.