Evan Almighty. Date Night. Dinner for Schmucks. We’ve got no problem saying this: The Office, a superior outift with exceptional writers made Michael Scott, not the reverse. The tired Seth Rogan/Paul Rudd movie factory may have given us 1 good Carrell film–The 40 Year Old Virgin–but little to nothing else with Carrell worth watching. Most of the reaction we’ve heard with regard to Carrell leaving The Office has been pessimistic pertaining to the future of the show. We, on the other hand, have no doubts that The Office can function without Michael Scott.
We think Steve Carrell is crazy to leave The Office, which will undoubtedly be the absolute best product he has ever worked on. We think it’s a poor decision to abandon his $300,000 per episode salary. And we are extremely confident that the show, which has perhaps needed a shot of enthusiasm for a few seasons (not for lack of trying with the guest addition of Timothy Olyphant and Amy Ryan’s role reprisal of Holly Flax), can be an excellent and dynamic program and can return to the top of network sitcom television. The Office can even reach new heights if they follow through on their plans to replace Michael Scott’s character with someone from outside the show. While we love Jim, Dwight, and Andy, none do anything for us in the lead role.
The late summer talk about The Office producers contacting Flight of the Conchords alum Rhys Darby (top) and Eastbound and Down star Danny McBride (bottom), and to a lesser extent, recent rumors about Arrested Development star Will Arnett (middle) have our full attention. McBride has seemed to generate the most excitement and buzz so far. Frankly, he is absolutely hilarious as crass, washed up pitcher Kenny Powers, and has one of the funniest hairstyles of all time. From what we’re reading though, at least out of HBO, is that McBride is unlikely to get the gig. Producer Paul Lieberstein (Toby) recently denied that McBride was in the running, but it was confirmed that McBride would be doing a guest spot this season. HBO has been less coy than Lieberstein, saying that McBride is signed up long term to do Kenny Powers, is paid very well, and went so far as to suggest that McBride would have no interest in joining the cast of The Office.
The cable network issued no similar statements with regard to Darby, leading us to believe that something is cooking. We would emphatically endorse the hire. Darby, as Brett and Jemaine’s band mannager on Flight of the Conchords was exponentially quirky in a way very reminiscent to the Michael Scott character, only with a New Zealand accent and the added awkwardness of a tourist with less than zero street smarts. Darby, like Carrell, has even demonstrated his proficiency with the occasional musical number. Darby’s low profile in America and immense respect in comedic circles would be a win win for a program in need of new talent and a network looking to make a reasonable deal with an actor.
The wildly popular and recognizable McBride would not come cheaply and without obstacles, or at least, that’s what HBO wants us to think. And we have questions about how well McBride will do without the luxury of of his hysterical foul mouth rants and drug humor, which is not about to play on NBC. He’d be unwise to leave the role of a lifetime on Eastbound and Down for the huge pressure associated with filling Michael Scott’s shoes.
Recently several Arrested Development actors have been mentioned for the job, including the legendary Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, and most notably, Will Arnett, who Ricky Gervais has been publicly pining for. We love Tambor. “Hey Now” Hank Kingsley? Classic. George Bluth Sr? JT played that role to a tee. And we look forward to his frequent cameos as himself on Entourage, the long term client of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, another Larry Sanders Show alum). Tambor isn’t really new blood to us though. Hale is not a heavy enough hitter, and Arnett, though we love him across the board and loved his GOB character to death, we have way more enthusiasm for Rhys Darby, who we feel is the perfect fit.
Though we will not be surprised if Arnett gets the nod, having done a guest shot on his wife Amy Poehler’s very funny NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, and having played a corporate foil to Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy for 3 years on NBC’s 30 Rock. Can Arnett jump to a 3rd Thursday night NBC sitcom? No doubt he could. But how about Ricky Gervais shuts the fuck up so that BJ Novak (Ryan), Lieberstein, and Mindy Kaling (Kelly), all Office producers, can go with their gut and bring in Darby?
Can you tell that we are really hoping for an Office dick meeting? Wait…that sounds bad. Just a Murray Hewitt/Flight of the Conchords reference!