How 'The Office' can make its supersized farewell to Michael Scott great
With Steve Carell leaving The Office after seven hit (and mostly hilarious) seasons, it’s only fitting that NBC send him off in style. That’s why the Peacock is saying goodbye to Michael Scott with a 50 minute episode on April 28.
That announcement is bound to evoke conflicted emotions from Dunder-Mifflin devotees: nostalgic sadness over his departure, excitement for the much-hyped season finale, as well as a touch of apprehension over yet another love-it-or-loathe-it extended Office episode.
You would think that if you love The Office, double the time would mean double the laughs, but then you think back to the dozen or so extended episodes the series has done before. Some were amazing, but a lot of them just seem far too long and difficult to swallow (that’s what she said).
So here are four suggestions for the show making the most out of Michael Scott’s 50-minute swansong:
Don’t drag out the B plot. Most 30 minute sitcoms have an A-plot and a less interesting (but acceptably brief) B-plot. So if you’re going to add another 10-25 minutes for a “super-sized” episode, it’s not enough to flesh out the less-amusing story. You have to create two storylines that could each carry an episode on their own. For instance, season three’s brilliant hour-long “A Benihana Christmas” involved the competing Christmas parties as well as Andy dragging a heartbroken Michael to the “Asian Hooters” where they picked up girlfriends Michael could barely tell apart. Both storylines were hilarious, and the episode is a classic.
Keep some jokes on the cutting room floor. If a joke or scene would have been cut out to keep the episode down to 22 minutes, it does not belong in a 50-minute episode. For some of the series’ extended eps, it felt like the additional minutes were filled-out with jokes leftover from the cutting room floor. Although this is just a guess, that situation probably arises when the network asks the writers to produce double the content within the same time frame.
Guest stars: Less is more. It’s awesome that Ray Romano, Will Arnett, Ricky Gervais, James Spader and Catherine Tate will guest on the season seven finale on May 19, but thankfully, they’re not taking the spotlight from Michael Scott’s farewell three weeks earlier. Gervais’ recent stint on the show was a perfect example of this: it was quick, punchy, and it left you wanting more. Michael’s exit should be about coming to terms with his departure and how it affects his co-workers and friend — not about introducing new characters just because they’re played by someone famous.
Ease up on the awkward situational humor. While true-to-life pauses and cringe-inducing gaffes are what makes us love the show, it can be difficult to see one of those scenarios strung out for an hour. Have you ever watched more than three episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in a row? It’s like wearing starchy pants: You just can’t stop squirming.
What do you think? Are you psyched for Michael’s last day on The Office? A little apprehensive about the extended run time? Or do you think things are better when they double in length? (Which is, of course, what she said.)