“The Office” is going to revisit one of the funniest stories it’s ever done in an upcoming episode, which should be cause for great rejoicing around these parts. But if a report about how it’s handled is right, we have a few concerns too.
TV Guide reported this week that the show will revisit Michael’s (Steve Carell) screenplay to “Threat Level Midnight” — which the Dunder Mifflin staff staged a reading of in the Season 2 episode “The Client” — in an episode scheduled for February. Melora Hardin will be back for the episode as Jan, and she reveals that Michael will actually make his movie.
“We’re all playing characters in his movie and Jan’s character, Jasmine, unveils a little piece of the puzzle that’s important to the plot unfolding,” Hardin tells TV Guide.
So far, so good, right? The adventures of Agent Michael Scarn made for brilliant comedy when Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) discovered them the first time, and Michael trying to put his vision on film sounds like something with a lot of potential.
Another aspect of the story gave us pause, though. TV Guide’s headline is “Is this how ‘The Office’ will write out Steve Carell?,” and the story concludes by asking Hardin if “Threat Level Midnight” is Michael’s ticket to Hollywood. She answers, “Yeah, I think so.”
We’re not questioning TV Guide’s reporting in any way, but we really hope the answer to the headline question is “no.” Most “Office” fans would probably like to see Michael leave Dunder Mifflin on some kind of hopeful note, but frankly, a literal Hollywood ending for the character just feels wrong.
For seven seasons, “The Office” has been about the slow, fitful, not especially successful growth of Michael Scott as a person who can accept himself for what he is. Giving him such a big win as his swan song wouldn’t fit everything we’ve seen until now.
(If, however, the shooting of “Threat Level Midnight” is only an intermediate step on Carell’s way out, that might work better. We can see Michael thinking he’s got it made, then having to come skulking back to Scranton when it doesn’t work out.)
“The Office” has found occasionally heartbreaking and frequently wonderful wells of comedy in the small things in life since it started. We hope it doesn’t decide to go too big in giving Steve Carell his sendoff.