By Aly Semigran
Updated July 06, 2011 at 10:10 PM EDT
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The Office

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When Steve Carell opted to bow out of The Office and took the irreplaceable (both in our hearts and at Dunder Mifflin) Michael Scott with him, many fans of the series, myself included, all but wrote the show off. His departure was beyond words, really. It was incalculable.

Then came the season seven finale, and with it a bevy of guest stars, all of which were vying for the Regional Manager position and, perhaps, the opportunity to be last saving grace for the struggling sitcom.

It seems none of them made a bigger impression on Dunder Mifflin, or The Office‘s still-hopeful fans for that matter, more than James Spader and his intimidating, overly confident candidate Robert California. Of course, the Spader-eqsue swagger once again worked its magic, as it was announced today that the actor would be joining the cast in the upcoming eighth season. So does this mark a revival — or first beacon of hope since Carell’s departure — for the series?

Spader certainly has an impressive television turn-around story to his credit. Not only did his addition to The Practice during its seventh season boost the courtroom drama’s ratings and earned the 51-year-old an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama, but his character Alan Shore worked so well for ABC, he (along with The Practice guest star William Shatner’s Denny Crane) got his own successful spin-off Boston Legal. The result? Five hit seasons and two more Emmys to Spader’s name.

Still, is his track record enough to bring since-departed Office fans back? Spader’s Robert California was polarizing and a bit scary to say the least — poor Jim already had to deal with that when Idris Elba’s soccer-loving, Jim-hating Charles Miner briefly took over. And while he replaces Kathy Bates’ ultimately forgettable Jo Bennett as CEO, we’re still left with the dilemma of no one yet hired to run Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch. Or will Spader’s dry brand of comedy be exactly the change The Office so desperately needs to stay afloat?

So tell me, PopWatchers, are you excited that James Spader has joined the cast of The Office? Do you think he should have just been hired as Steve Carell’s replacement, instead of Kathy Bates’? Is he a good fit for the ensemble or are you too scared for Andy’s sake (and your eyes) that he and Erin will strike up some sort of Secretary-like relationship?

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Episode Recaps

The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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