Steve Carell Shoots Down ‘Office’ Revival & Series Writer Explains How The Comedy Survived A Disastrous First Season
There’s no doubt that Netflix is a huge reason why “The Office” is even bigger now than it ever was during its 9 season run on NBC. In hindsight, you would think that the network knew exactly what it had with Steve Carell and the rest of the cast in what would become one of the best comedies of the last decade. But really, in the beginning, no one knew and the series almost didn’t survive.
On a recent episode of Vox’s podcast “I Think You’re Interesting,” series writer Michael Schur talked “The Office” and why it is a miracle the series lasted 201 episodes when it probably should have only lasted 6. And then Steve Carell finally puts to rest all talk of an ‘Office’ reunion.
READ MORE: Steve Carell Says Universal Shut Down Production On ’40-Year-Old Virgin’ Because He “Looked Like A Serial Killer”
“That show was developed by Kevin Reilly, who was running NBC at the time. He had come from FX, and he loved the British show, and he was very passionate about ‘The Office.’ So he gave [creator] Greg [Daniels] the chance to basically do it the way he wanted and basically cast it the way he wanted. He was very invested in the show. We made six episodes that first season, and no one liked it,” said Schur.
He continues, “So, definitely going to get canceled — except that Kevin Reilly kind of stakes his reputation as an executive [on it]. And says to his bosses at NBC, ‘I believe in this show. I think it can work. Please, please, please give me another chance. Give us another season.’”
Luckily for all involved, the begging of Reilly coincided with Steve Carell becoming a massive star thanks to Judd Apatow’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Suddenly, NBC had more at stake than just a low-rated American remake. The network had a movie star under contract.
“They partially gave us the second season because they had Steve under contract. So, network executive sticks his neck out. The guy who’s the main character becomes a movie star,” said Schur.
But getting a second season wasn’t going to fix all the wrongs of the first season. Because of Carell’s rise to fame, Schur and the rest of the folks behind the scenes decided to take the show in a different direction and branch off more from the British ‘Office’ that the series was based on.
“The guy who created the show [Greg Daniels] is a first-ballot hall of fame TV brain. And he says, ‘Well, let’s look at thing No. 2, and let’s think about how we should take that information and use it for the show. And the way we should is by saying, that guy, that character he’s playing in that movie, is so sympathetic and so kind and so lovely. We need to take 20 percent of that energy and put it into Michael Scott’
And the writers — his own writers, me included! — rebelled and said, ‘You’re going to ruin it. The thing that Ricky [Gervais] and Steve [Merchant made] is perfect, and how dare you, and the whole point is it’s supposed to be bleak, and Michael Scott, like David Brent, is a terrible person.’ And Greg patiently listened to all of us, and heard us all out, and said, ‘No, you dummies, I’m going to do it this way, and we’re going to add just a tiny little glimmer of hope to the end of every episode.’
And he did. And that is the difference between that show lasting 12 episodes and lasting 200.”
So, the rest is history. The series lasted 9 seasons and over 200 episodes. And now, thanks to streaming, fans are discovering the NBC comedy and loving it more than ever. This has led to many fans asking about a potential revival or reunion.
Sadly, according to star Carell, if there is a reunion, it’ll be without him. In a new interview with Collider, the actor sets the record straight on whether or not he’d want to be included.
“I’ll tell you, no. I feel like I’m a broken record, talking about this because I get asked about it. The show is way more popular now than when it was on the air. I just can’t see it being the same thing, and I think most folks would want it to be the same thing, but it wouldn’t be. Ultimately, I think it’s maybe best to leave well enough alone and just let it exist as what it was. You’d literally have to have all of the same writers, the same producers, the same directors, and the same actors, and even with all of those components, it just wouldn’t be the same. So, no. But, I love the show. It was the most exciting time, and all of those people are my friends. We all love it. It was a special thing. It was a special thing before people thought it was a special thing. It was special to us, before other people started feeling that way. But, no.”
Even though it doesn’t appear that Carell is interested in bringing Michael Scott back to Dunder Mifflin, fans can still relive his antics on Netflix over and over again.