The Office Loses Its Showrunner; Should It Quit Now?

One of the keys to show business is knowing when to step out of the spotlight as what once was a roar of applause and a standing ovation from the audience dwindles to scattered uncomfortable coughs and squeaking chairs. NBC's The Office is well into its downward trajectory and not too far from holding cast reunion variety shows at Indian casinos.

The latest blow to the series—which has been getting hit with black eyes since Steve Carell's exit last season—is that showrunner and actor Paul Lieberstein (he plays Toby) is leaving his duties as series boss to concentrate on the rumored and no-doubt disastrous Dwight Schrute spin-off, reports Deadline Hollywood. Lieberstein has served as a producer since the series' get-go, took over showrunning duties in Season 5, and is one of a handful of writer-actors on the program.

Lieberstein's exit follows the recent departure of James Spader. It's another one for the ever-growing pile, considering the probable upcoming exit of co-executive-producer-writer-actor Mindy Kaling, who has a new pilot in contention that she created and stars in. Plus, if the Dwight Schrute spin-off somehow does get off the ground, Rainn Wilson would also leave the series. The Office is very close to becoming The Stanley Show (which I'd totally watch, btw) unless his hip-hop career takes off and he leaves too.

Even with all this upheaval, The Office WILL be back because... what else is NBC gonna do? It's still NBC's top-rated comedy, anchoring the network's fading Thursday comedy block and serving as a flagship program for a network that's really hurting. Plus, now there are reports that John Krasinski and Ed Helms are close to signing on for Season 9, though the contracts will be riddled with clauses that allow them to continue to focus on their movie careers. So expect Jim to take odd extended vacations without Pam, and Andy to go on tour opening for Matchbox 20.

As NBC continues its transition to the Comcast regime, promising new comedies will need to bubble up to knock the old guys off. NBC has 14 comedy pilots in development, so it's looking to regain traction in an area it once dominated. From a quality standpoint, The Office should empty out the building right now. But from a business standpoint, NBC should milk one last painful season out of the show to help its new programs grow.

What do you think NBC should do with The Office?
– Cancel it after this season. It's done!
– Give it one more year to say its goodbyes. It's earned at least that much.
– Let it go on! New blood will revitalize it!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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they need to do a Michael Scott wedding
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Should it? why not? what a dumb question. Should it be canceled? Woulda Coulda? Where does "should" come into play when it comes to fans watching TV? If I watch something else, should the shows I don't watch be canceled? Very very very lame as usual. These article premises are unforgivably lazy. Can you guys get somebody over 40 to write some columns or at least be a managing editor or something?
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Should have ended last season since Michael's gone and Pam and Jim got together a while back. Just take an extra episode to put Andy and Erin together with Andy getting Michael's old job and Dwight getting a new position somewhere else. As far as I'm concerned pretty much this entire season has been one long death rattle for the show.
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Faithful since season 1, but its time for this show to close its doors. Last weeks episode was quite possibly the worst episode of its entire run. James Spader has done nothing to enhance the laughs or add any substantial dialogue like he had done with Boston Legal/Practice. Even the recent arc with Catherine Tate was so underwhelming and unfunny. Very disappointing season.
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The ratings are going way down. They cut their number of viewers by half, and the season isn't even done yet. Goodbye the Office!
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You can't get milk out of a dead cow, even if it's a cash cow. NBC should have pulled the plug last year, but their teeth are stuck on that nipple, trying desperately to suck out a few more drops.
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I feel your flow but honestly I think this new season of the Office is SOLID! If you can just ignore the first 4 or 5 episodes, it's been hilarious in spite of the fact Michael Scott is not there.
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Hey, if it's possible that some people actually like Burger King...
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what's wrong with Burger King?
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I'm a fan. I'm gonna stick with it til they all retire. The Office and Parks & Rec are the only reason I ever watch NBC.
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Totally and me too! Although for me it was Chuck and The Office (and Heroes until season 4). Haven't gotten into Parks & Rec yet..
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Having Andy and Erin together now has made me rejoice so I'm not quite ready for it to tank.
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have it end on a good note.
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Just let it die already. :(
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10 More Seasons and a Movie :p!!!!!

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Was watching "Married with Children" the other night. Kelly & Seven were playing Scrabble. Kelly puts down "NBC". Seven reminds her that's not a word. Kelly replies, "It is too a word. It's just not a network.".
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YES quit now.
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give it 12 or 13 episodes...and maybe let Michael or someone guest star...it seems like everyone has some place else they would rather be....and giving it a last hoorah is necessary for those that want to see it go on for a bit longer and instead of ending abruptly it can end with all the strings tied! :)
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Cancel it after this season. It's done!
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Well what's the alternative, Up All Night? Are you there Chelsea? I'll take more, even bad episodes of The Office, thank you.
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I'd rather see Community or Parks & Recreation get bumped up to the Office's spot. They're both much more deserving.
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I don't like "Community" anymore (which also lost its showrunner), but "Parks & Rec" is still awesome.
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I'm still enjoying it but find myself thinking how great the situations would be with Micheal still involved. They definitely deserve a goodbye the same as Steve Carell got.
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It's not a matter of what NBC should do, what they will do is to milk it to it's last dollar. TV producers don't care about the show's quality, just the ratings it's getting.
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It will go down in history as NBC's last major success before they went under.
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After the current reason, announce that the show will have a final 22 episode season so it can finish gracefully
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You actually think they have 22 episodes left in them?? Geez.
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Give it a final, 12 episode season, the last episode being the lead-in to the premiere of The Farm. Good business.
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lol on option 3.
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Im going to be honest and say that I think this is the best season of the past 4-5...
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At the very least it should be given a half season to say goodbye. In a perfect world last season would have been the last. That's not to say this season was a disaster or anything. In fact a number of episodes have been great.
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They should go get the portal thing from Terra Nova and go back in time and cancel it 3-4 seasons ago !
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I was gonna say that they should cancel it, but really, I don't care either way. If it comes back for another season or more, I'd still probably keep watching (unless it REALLY sucks). It's still, probably, in my top 25 favorite shows... which means it's decent enough to keep watching.
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I'd say, bring back Steve Carrell for guest appearences.
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It's not like the current regime of writers has been so deft this year that they are indispensable. The writing staff has been entirely unclear on what they want to do with new characters, and has been soft writing existing characters beyond retreads of previous storylines. It seems to me that either the potential for the series is gone, or the driving force behind it has lost its way and needs a shakeup. I say give it one more season with said shakeup, see if they can either add something new or at least go out with a bang rather than this season's whimper.
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The big question is, why didn't they cancel it last season?
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yes cancel it! the fact that they went on after its prime shows their doing it for the money and dont give a crap about the fans
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It really hasn't been that bad the last few episodes - it's a hell of a lot better than crap like The Big Bang Theory. I'd like to see some guest star arcs on the series, similar to what Scrubs did with Aziz Ansari and Arrested Development did with Theron. Spader should've never been brought back for this series period, Gabe needs to go for good, and considering Pam isn't anywhere near the eyecandy she used to be she can be cut to save some budget.
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Sorry, but The Big Bang Theory is WAY better than the Office. The Office is just okay to me now, but can be good at times.
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I think it's time for it to go, lest the number of mediocre episodes surpass the number of quality episodes.
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Im fine with trying one more season, as long as Dwight is still there. The Jim-Dwight thing is the only thing left that resembles the Brit version. Struggling company worried about being shut down, not anymore. Crazy boss who wants to make everyone laugh more than he wants to work, nope, he gone. Regular guy with a crush on his perfect woman, who works 10 steps away but has a dufus guy on her own, no they're now happi;y married with 2 kids.

give them one more year. Maybe find a way to keep Catherine Tate on. if you're going to have Andy and Jim coming and going, bring Tim olyphant back for a couple of cameos, have him as their head of sales on the road, explains that nicely. and helps get me over how perfectly short Justified's seasons are.

and then bring Michael back for the final couple of shows,

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End it please just end this show its had a nice run
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The question shouldn't be "now?" it should be "when?" and the answer to that was after Steve Carell left. The show has gradually gone down hill even before he left
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I've been ready for the show to end since the serious drop-off in season 4. Personally, though, I think they should give it a final half season. I'm sure they've already written/filmed pretty much the rest of this season, so give them a chance to properly end it. To be honest, I'd rather see 30 Rock put out of its misery. As bad as the Office is now, it's occasionally come back a little bit. I'd be willing to bet that BJ has a few ideas he's been saving up. I say give him a chance to spend it all.
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Yeah, it kinda sucks now, but let's give it one last round. The Office has done us good for some time, the least we can do is bid it fond farewell. Just don't move them all to a school and give them teaching jobs.
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Let it go. Good shows have come and gone before. The difference is most of the bowed out at the height of their show. Do they really want the memory of this show be this season and next. It had its run and it was great. But part of being great is knowing when leave. If they keep on I don't see it being as good as it once was.
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Please God,not another season.They dont even need to do another episode.Its horrible now.Its been horrible for three years now.I only watch cause its like a car wreck,you just cant look away no matter how gruesome it is.Its amazing how after every episode you think wow it cant get any worse but then IT DOSE.For five years it was the best comedy on TV.Thats where it should have ended.
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It's getting a little sad now to watch. The show was so great at one point and to watch it fall apart, loosing one wheel at a time, and watching it try to go on, it deserves better. They should end it this season. It is the humane thing to do.
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Keep it another year. Walk it out until it's dead and then kick it forward a few miles. i never liked Michael, and Andy is a poorman's version of a character I never liked...which actually made it better for me. This show is still better than most comedies currently on television. I think people just want things to die without caring if there's anything to replace it. There isn't. Parks and Rec is a sad clone that took everything that isn't funny about The Office and smashed it into 30 minutes.



I guess we could always ask Whitney Cummings or Chelsea to squat out another show. Those can't be too hard to make.
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Really? Have you watched a single Parks and Rec episode in the last 2 seasons?
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Certainly. April's bf going to college, Leslie running for office, Leslie dating her staffer, Leslie making frenemies with her opponent's PR woman. It's less of a "funny haha" show, and more of a "yeah, no, I got it" show.



I have the show on in the background both because there's nothing else to watch between 8:30 - 9:00, and to answer people that think I can't have watched this pile if I don't think it's funny.
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The show should have ended on a high note when Michael left. It is truly a painful season to watch, and yet I still do so, every week! I still love all the characters, but the storylines have been absolutely ridiculous this season. Why, oh WHY does NBC keep "beating a dead horse?" And why the NBC execs would think that a Dwight spin off would be viable is beyond me, but I guess that's why NBC is in the state it's in. I honestly thought Paul Lieberstein and Rainn Wilson were smarter than that. If I were John Krasinski or Ed Helms, I'd run away really, really fast. I do feel kinda bad for the supporting characters but they seem to be really talented actors who (in my opinion) could get work anywhere. I wonder if, when they are reading their scripts, they realize how stupid their show has become... However, although I think NBC has made some really bad decisions lately, I still really am rooting for them to be back on top again!!
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CANCEL it. They should have just ended it when Steve Carell left!
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It was just too painful seeing Ed Helms try to fill Steve Carell's incomparable shoes (Wingtips, btw). I stopped watching after the second episode of this season. Sad to say, but this show needs to be put out of its misery.
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I wish it had ended when Michael left. The character was why the show meant anything and was ever any good. The rest of the cast complimented him. now though I would love to see him return and say man this place must suck without me.
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Definiely just cancel it. Itss taking things too far to renew it for season 9
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Think about it. He took over in Season 5. The last few seasons have been the weaker ones. It may well get better next season! We don't really need Toby anymore... there's no point having his character without Michael Scott.
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Cancel it. It saddens me to see the show as it is now. It used to be my favorite show and now I don't even watch it.
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Same. And even the previews make me groan now...
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This is the perfect time for the show to end! It's been slipping slightly in terms of content and funny, but now that Steve Carrell's leaving, it's a perfect ending to the show..... wait... what.....? that was last year.....? Did I miss something? My gosh, stop the pain now!!!
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