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Would Cheers still have been Cheers if Sam Malone had departed the show? Would Seinfeld still be Seinfeld if Jerry had left his friends to carry on the coffee shop talk without him? Luckily, the writers of these shows never had to face that writing challenge.
Unlike the poor scribes at NBC's The Office -- who'll soon be writing episodes without their show's wackadoo patriarch, Michael Scott (Steve Carell). In other words, the guy whose numbskull actions have largely set seven seasons' worth of plotlines into motion. Carell's final episode is April 28.
Is Carell replaceable? Absolutely not. But let's not forget that he himself might be considered a form of lightning striking twice: The misguided, cliché-mangling Michael Scott was based on David Brent, Ricky Gervais' misguided, cliché-mangling character in the original, U.K. version of The Office. If you've seen that first version, then you know that Carell had his own, fresh take on this bumbling boss character. Obviously, he's been every bit as funny.
Last month, Gervais, who's one of the executive producers of The Office, blogged that he'd recommended Will Arnett to NBC as a new show regular (though he stopped short of saying he'd be Michael's replacement). And yesterday, Entertainment Weekly reported that both Gervais and Arnett will be appearing in the show's May 19 finale.
Again, there's no mention of the Arrested Development star (a.k.a. Mr. Amy Poehler) replacing Michael -- just appearing in the episode. But it certainly looks like a distinct possibility.
Is Arnett up for the challenge? His last show, Running Wilde, sputtered out quickly. But his guest spots on 30 Rock, as evil executive Devon Banks, have always been dead-on hilarious. If he's a good fit with the right ensemble of characters, he could shine in another sitcom. And Dunder Mifflin sure has lots of those.