As I was re-watching the Parks and Rec season finale the other night, I came to a few realizations: One; despite strong competition from Community, Modern Family and Cougar Town, among others, Parks and Rec had the strongest, funniest season this year. Two; Rob Lowe needs to leave.
I do not say this because I dislike Rob Lowe or his character, Chris Traeger. I adore both. In fact, I will go so far as to say that Chris Traeger is the greatest role that Rob Lowe has ever played. I don’t want to hear any “blah, blah, blah, West Wing” either. He was great on that and it was a fantastic show, but Chris Traeger wins.
Parks and Recreation is funny on its own, but Traeger is such a perfect counterpart to the bitter, anti-beuraucrat Ron Swanson, that every scene he’s in is automatically elevated to comic gold. However, as much as I enjoy Traeger on Parks and Rec, it would serve the greater comedy good if he went elsewhere. Chris Traeger needs to become Dunder Mifflin/Sabre’s new manager.
We already have precedent for Traeger leaving Parks and Rec. After he and Anne broke up and he went back to Indianapolis, there were a few episodes in which we didn’t really see him at all. How about next season he gets lured into the private sector and leaves Pawnee for Scranton?
The Office has been limping along for the past couple of seasons. Michael’s proposal to Holly and his departure did a great job of tugging at the heartstrings, but the old absurdist hilarity that was a mainstay during the first several years just isn’t there anymore. The parade of potential replacements in the season finale was supposed to bring that back, but it mostly fell flat. At this point, Chris Traeger is the only one who can swoop in and save the day.
His manic energy, wild efficiency and unrelenting positivity would wreak havoc on the weary folks of The Office. While I’m not sure a swivel desk would really work there, I am certain that Chris could bring about many much-needed changes to both Dunder Mifflin and the show itself.
As ridiculous as it may sound to have a character bounce from one show to another, this isn’t without precedent. Crossovers are a time-honored television tradition. I started watching The Practice after the folks from Robert Donnell and Associates visited Cage and Fish on Ally McBeal. Beyond that, David E. Kelly constantly had crossovers between his shows. Plus, let’s not forget that Richard Belzer has played Detective John Munch for nearly twenty years on ten different television shows, spanning five networks. Parks and Rec, on the other hand, is run by Office alums Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, so Traeger would be staying within the family.
It would also be beneficial to NBC, who despite having an excellent comedy lineup on Thursdays, is still struggling to regain the ratings from their glory days. According to the numbers, there are a lot of people who watch The Office who aren’t watching Parks and Rec, and a crossover could go a long way toward bringing attention to the show.
At the end of the day, The Office needs a shot of joy and irreverence to wake it up. Chris Traeger is just the boss to do that.