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The Michael Scott Paper Company should have been the spin-off

1131the_office_lg_pam_michaelDear Greg Daniels,

No! And I mean every syllable.

What have you done? This time last year, you had us all salivating over rumors of a spin-off of The Office. My wife, a huge Toby Flenderson fan, only made it through Toby’s retirement party by imagining him helming his own series (not that it would have been a good one. Women!) Your audience was built in, and a successful second show could have grown audiences for both.

You’ve even crafted a brilliant alternate universe this season: the Michael Scott Paper Company. With a staff, storylines, and even its own opening credits (nice!), the new show would have been perfect, providing fans with a full hour of The Office-esque comedy, cast members floating back and forth with ease. As similar as it would have been to the original, Michael leaving one company to start another would have allowed each half-hour to explore new territory. Not only that, but a flop with the Michael Scott Paper Company would have left the door open for the characters to return to the original show. Brilliant.

Instead, we have a bit of a mess. Let’s start with The Office. Loving the show, don’t get me wrong. But with so much going on, I feel as if everyone, cast and viewers alike, are being cheated. There’s minimal time for the supporting characters anymore, so all we get are cheap one-liners from the likes of Phyllis, Stanley, Kevin, and Angela, to name a few. Jim is hitting a brick wall with new boss Charles Miner, so there goes his screen time with both Pam and Dwight. All that’s left is some weird new friendship between Andy and Dwight, which, while funny, is no match for their Cornell-interview-feuding days. And what about the warehouse? There’s just not enough time.

And now for the worst part: you gave us Parks and Recreation! I mean, yuck! My wife and I were one and done, until a review by Entertainment Weekly convinced us not to judge it too fast. Instead, we wasted a second half-hour on it before canning the show. It’s just not funny. The brightest spot is Aziz Ansari, but he can’t carry a show by himself yet. Amy Poehler has Tina Fey syndrome: a brilliant comedian who should never act. Or do impressions, but I won’t get started on that, since Saturday Night Live is not your fault.

But come on, man! You’re wasting a golden opportunity to give us thirty more minutes in Scranton, PA. NBC handed you the keys to the executive washroom, and you decided to go down the street to the local gas station (I don’t know). You could have been a superstar, like Jerry Bruckheimer, but instead you risk being a flash in the pan. Next thing you know, you’ll be producing and starring in some weird show for HBO about your crazy life…. Okay, let’s not go there.

Look, you’ve got talent, and you’ve got brains. You spun a brilliant show out of what could have been just some crappy remake, and NBC is right now looking at you as one of their few golden geese. That’s the problem: they’ll buy whatever you’re selling. Couldn’t you make it something good?

Yours truly,

The fans

P.S. I almost forgot: With all sincerity, thank you for The Office. Much obliged.

Photo Credit: NBC

15 Responses to “The Michael Scott Paper Company should have been the spin-off”

April 21, 2009 at 1:48 PM

When I first heard that P&R would not occupy the same world as The Office I was relieved but now after two episodes I kind of wish it was a spin off. It would make more sense as to why a camera crew would follow these people around. I kind of like the idea that these two shows could fit well on a shelf together but P&R seems too fake. Why did they create a fictional town like Pawnee instead of a real town like Scranton? It works for Earl, The Simpsons etc, but imagine if HIMYM took place in Capital City instead of NYC. Where will the convention be held:)

I think that the cast is strong but I just hope that it can find its way. That being said I also thought while watching the previews that Leslie’s boss Ron Swanson would not work as a character because he looked too fake but two episodes in he is my favorite. He reminds me of some of my neighbors growing up that want to privatize everything. Maybe he could move to Scranton if this series doesn’t take.

April 21, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Yes! I actually think that Parks and Recreation would be better off without the documentary angle, because the plot isn’t really conducive to it (plus, to your point, why are camera crews following them around?)

I think Ansari would have served his own interests better by staying on Scrubs and pushing to get the show continued with the interns. He was there strongest comic.

April 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Making Michael’s new company the spinoff would mean Michael leaving “The Office”.

And that is about as far as I want to follow your train of thought since that is a no-go.

Too much going on on “The Office” + Not enough going on on P&R doesn’t equal this.

You are on the right track though, but you uses wrong comparisons. Amy Pohler bombs on P&R, right, but don’t compare her to Tina Fey because she is the bread and butter of 30 Rock and just saying she can’t act doesn’t cut it. The reason why Pohler bombs on P&R is the bad writing or better that the writing doesn’t fit her. She was great on Weekend Update so simply can’t say that this shows she can’t act.

So the paper company shouldn’t be the spinoff but rather something that maybe takes the secondary characters out of the office like Toby. You mentioned him, why not go with him on that idea? But you simply can’t take Steve Carell off the show just like you can’t have him take him take Jim, Pam or Dwight with him.

Possible candidates would be Andy, Phylis and Angela. I mean Rashida Jones left for P&R, so she should still be on the spinoff. You could also put Jan on and then have a couple of crossover episodes. Or a bunch.

So while you bring up some real good points the demand in the heading is just wrong, sorry. No way. Michael = The Office.

April 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM

I never said Michael should leave The Office. In fact, I specifically said “cast members floating back and forth with ease”, the idea being that both shows would and could be a vehicle for everyone. The “spin-off” in that sense would be just a new area for the writers and actors to explore.

For me, Tina Fey is the core of 30 Rock, but Liz Lemon is a drag on it. And I’m not using Parks and Recreation as my reason for brushing off Poehler; I’ve never thought she could act, from SNL to Blades of Glory. In fact, I was sort of being kind by calling her a “brilliant comedian.”

I totally disagree that the spin-off should take secondary characters away from the show (though, keep Karen far away!) It should just float them back and forth, with sales competitions, client espionage, and corporate raids, or whatever. It would be perfect to utilize 100% of the cast on two shows.

April 21, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Yeah but that’s no spinoff that’s two episodes of the Office back to back.

April 21, 2009 at 2:35 PM

And your complaint is… ;-)

April 21, 2009 at 3:00 PM


You proposed more “The Office” episodes. I remember a time when on TV Squad people were complaining that there is nothing going on on “The Office”, that it had become stale et cetera.

I totally get that you want more of the current dynamic because it’s great but like I said before –

P&R = teh suck != Double the amount of “The Office” and cancel P&R

I guess what you are getting at is that P&R isn’t close enough to “The Office” – but you also don’t want to let go of ANY of the beloved characters on “The Office”.

Well guess what – the creators thought the same, that’s why you got “Parks & Recreation” :-)

Let’s just leave it the way it is: “The Office” in the current dosage (no hour-long episodes, 30 minutes once a week) is going to be the right amoung to keep this show going until the 8 year contracts run out – that’s another 70 or so episodes. If you up the numbers you’ll just get bored. It’s the same with some relationships/friends. You love it when you met each other twice a week – now you live together and you hate it.

And simply cancel P&R, go back to the drawing board, and do something else.

April 21, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Okay, I think we’re losing focus here. I’m not advocating for two episodes of The Office. Rather, I can see a Dunder Mifflin “The Office” and a Michael Scott Paper Company “The Office” as being two separate things. Yes, at their core they would have sets, characters, and worlds in common, but to each show its own.

Michael would be a lead on the latter and supporting on the former, and vice versa for Jim (as examples). It’s actually a fairly unique opportunity to grab two slots of TV with essentially one cast, but not as an extended version of the same. Rather, DM’s The Office is clearly going in one direction, while MSPC’s The Office is just getting started. I actually see this as a very creative idea, as opposed to it just being lazy. It’s never been done before, and I think it would have been (and could still be) a really cool success story.

But, of course, it’ll never happen. Unless we go back in time…

April 21, 2009 at 8:46 PM

I see where you are going with this, it sounds interesting. But I’m a little bit torn between the disagree ass that I can be and the agreeing “make nice” guy I force myself to be since I left school ;-)

What you propose basically is the last two or three episodes of “The Office” but instead of having the two shows in 30 minutes on “The Office” you suggest you have less of Michael and Pam as well as Rynan on the first half hour and less Jim, Phylis, Dwight and Andy on the second half hour.

Like I said, that would basically be an hour long “The Office”. What saves it would be a focus on the stories of the respective casts where you’d have the B and C stories done with the “supporting cast” of both shows on the other show. Basically you want a spinoff without a spinoff. Nothing’s really spinning off here, you just want more of the same with the focus on different characters, just a ruleset on whom the focus lies on in the first and second half hour. This isn’t really a spinoff and while I would love to have this just like you do, you simply ran into the “what I want from a spinoff” problem from a fan’s perspective.

You want more of the same, without changing anything.

Trust me, I felt the same this week when I reached season 4 of Buffy. I have Angel Season 1 and 2 here too but I simply don’t watch them because “It’s not the same” no matter how many times Angel makes a “guest appearance” on Buffy (1 so far in the first half of the season and it was totally unnecessary) and I think it was 1 for Buffy on “Angel” too as well as Oz one time and Willow another. But who cares? It’s not the same. It’s Angel and Wesley as well as Cordelia taken out of Buffy and put into an absolutely different situation – and a total revamp after the first half when Doyle was written out of the show.

Anyway, I hope you see my point – a spinoff is a spinoff and it has to be since you need to find new stories for the characters. MSPaper Co. is even in the same building as Dunder Mifflin and that just doesn’t work. It’s just another hour of “The Office” if you look at your proposal closely because you feel that currently there’s not enough focus on the supporting cast. But if you get more time you’ll soon enough find out that there’s not really much to focus on or you feel everything is filler et cetera.

I know it really really sounds good on paper but even if you go back in time “Parks & Recreation” will _always_ be the more viable option due to all the things I said before. You’d just cram the last (coming) 4 seasons of “The Office” into two years and that would be it. Just enjoy it the way you are getting it now, you’ll get the focus on your beloved supporting cast back soon enough – after the first three episodes in Season 6, you can bet on it.

April 22, 2009 at 10:58 AM

“I’m a little bit torn between the disagree ass that I can be and the agreeing “make nice” guy I force myself to be since I left school ;-)”

Hah! :-)

Yes, something along the lines of the last few episodes of The Office … I just didn’t view them as being cohesive. If this is a temporary move, I’m okay with sitting idly by. However, what I’m seeing is an opportunity that Daniels could have run with. Maybe in its current form we’d be reluctant to say “make a new show!”, but what I’m seeing is a separate piece that could be, but isn’t yet.

Were it to be an hour long The Office, you’re right, it would burn us out. But imagine the possibilities if they could create the first spin-off that was unique and separate, yet still very much an inhabitant of the original’s universe! I think I’m having a hard time defining how that would be different than an hour of The Office, because all we know is its current form, and I’m trying to imagine a different animal. I don’t know.

As for a ruleset for a spin-off, I think it exists simply because that’s all that’s ever been done on TV; the spin-off preceded the rules that govern it, meaning anyone can create a new hybrid of it. Or could we say The Office is special like Desmond?

I definitely see what you’re saying, but you’re living in their box, man! ;-). No, I do see how it doesn’t fit nicely into the idea of a spin-off, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be. Just that it hasn’t been yet. I think it might be fair to end this season of The Office with a few weeks of two half hour episodes, one for each paper company. Let’s see where it goes before dismissing it. Of course, Greg Daniels isn’t reading this, but we can always dream, right?

April 22, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Aryeh S, what you are suggesting is basically what The Office already is right now, except spread over an hour instead of 30 minutes? Am I right? The Office has always been a storyline driven show for me, so I think shipping this storyline off into its own spinoff would be a silly idea. The Office is about the lives of Michael Scott and the gang, and this is exactly what they are following with this storyline.

And I wouldn’t write off Parks & Recreation so quickly. Most shows, including The Office and 30 Rock, take time to find their feet. Two episodes is not long enough to right off a show IMO, espeically one with such talented people invovled.

April 22, 2009 at 10:47 AM

You know, I honestly never looked at it as continuing to follow Michael in his story, i.e. one line instead of two. I guess that’s a fair point.

The problem is it still leaves The Office will little time to explore the areas we’ve grown to love. I see MSPC as a separate venture, and to give Michael and Pam adequate opportunities (I can do without Ryan), while still keeping the rest of the show intact, is a rather difficult task to manage in 30 minutes, at least to me.

As for Parks and Recreation, while you’re right that other comedies take time, and I went back and forth with The Office and 30 Rock in the beginning, each had an anchor that I was able to enjoy, that kept convincing me to try them again. For me, that’s not true with Parks and Recreation. As I said above, Aziz Ansari is the only plus for me. I don’t enjoy Amy Poehler or Rashida Jones, and none of the other characters clicked for me. I just don’t see the diamond in the rough at all. I think it was a wasted opportunity for Greg Daniels that will only survive, if it does, because of its pedigree, not quality.

April 22, 2009 at 1:15 PM

I agree with Aryeh here. 30 Rock and The Office had something that made you come back. At least an interesting character, a couple of good laughs. Aryeh mentioned the former Scrubs intern Aziz Ansari. But he’s not as good as he was on Scrubs here.

So everything is better than P&R at the moment and I’d love to get more of “The Office”. It would even be sneaky and call it a spin-off and get rid of the hour-long episodes this way. But I’m afraid of burn-out syndrome and that’s why I have to be against it. It’s like eating too much chocolate or eating too much of your favorite food, suddenly you can’t stand it anymore. *sigh*

Anyway, P&R is a dud for me too. Just saying.

April 23, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Yeah, I don’t agree about The Office criticisms. I think its a good angle and throws the show of its comfy butt for a bit. I never thought we needed a spin off. What we need is another original, funny idea (or UK rip off) and people will watch.

P&R was weak, which is a bummer. I had hoped it would be un-Officey but I was disappointed.

But to say Tina Fey shouldn’t do impressions, when the best impression of our lifetimes was performed last Fall, just smacks of a personal grudge of some sort.

Acting, sure. Baby Mama was horrible, I can agree with that logic.

April 23, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Okay, original would be nice. But, once they started to discuss a spin-off…

There’s no personal grudge; taste it subjective. I just don’t think the impression was good at all, let alone the best of our lifetime.

The only thing I could say that colors my opinion is that people believe that SNL became a political factor this past year; try baby step above a joke, and the label would be more accurate.

But, no, I don’t think SNL’s done a good impression since Will Ferrell took on President Bush. And I think Fey (and Poehler) belong behind the scenes, not in front.

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