Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC
Jim Halpert probably thought he'd be in his dead-end job forever. Turns out he'll be packing up his belongings by next summer. The Office is closing, folks, and season 9 will be its last.
"We have thought about what the future of the show should be, and always held the values that we should feel like a family and make something that has a lot of artistic integrity," executive producer Greg Daniels told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. "And so this year feels like for us the last chance to really go out together and to make an artistic ending for the show that pays off a lot of the stuff that has mattered most to fans with the core characters."
Fact is, several cast members are in the final year of their contracts, and are ready to move on. The show has already lost Steve Carell (to a movie career), Mindy Kaling (to her new FOX show, The Mindy Project) and Rainn Wilson (to an Office spin-off, The Farm, that's in development to premiere next year). Ed Helms and John Krasinski are already busy filming movies. (Helms is returning for The Hangover 3 in May, and his latest comedy, They Came Together, is due out in 2014. Krasinski will star in Gus Van Sant's latest, Promised Land, next year.)
Daniels, who adapted the British version for American TV and acted as show runner for its first five years, will return to helm the final season. (The show runner who took over for him in season 6 -- Paul Lieberstein, who also plays Toby -- is moving to The Farm.) Daniels said that the producers had considered keeping the show on the air, with a new roster of Dunder Mifflin employees. But in the end they decided that The Office just "wouldn't be the same show."
And the truth is, all good things come to an end. Actually, so do lousy workplaces. The Office was both. For several years, millions of viewers have been enheartened by Jim and Pam's love story, tickled by Michael's good-natured lack of tact and become increasingly fond of the array of other misfits who filed into Dunder Mifflin every Thursday night. So it will be a sad goodbye.
The good news? Or, at least, the consolation prize? "We’re planning a very big, exciting last season," Daniels said. He called the coming season (which premieres September 20th, at 9 p.m. ET, on NBC) a "big Jim and Pam year," and promised that some long-running narratives (like the identity of the Scranton Strangler) would be resolved. Also, viewers will get to see the documentary crew behind the cameras and maybe get an answer to the question: "Why are they still filming?!"
Daniels expressed the pretty-much universal opinion that "it would be fantastic" if Steve Carell would return for the finale." But he couldn't guarantee that Carell would want to do it.
Either way, Daniels said that, for one last season, "the show will feel more like Dunder Mifflin from before the Sabre merger." And who could be upset about that?