‘The Office’ Begins Countdown to the End

by | January 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM | Interviews, Midseason 2013, The Office

"The Office" (NBC)

The beginning of the end of “The Office” starts with the January 24 episode, according to Executive Producer Greg Daniels, so if you don’t want to miss any part of the wrap-up of the hijinks at the Dunder Mifflin paper company, you can’t wait until May for the finale to tune in.

“Obviously, we do want to say thank you to the fans, but I also want [the finale] to be a great episode in its own right, not everybody just standing there. I would hope that it is good and has surprises and drama to it,” Daniels told XfinityTV.com.

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That said, the series finale has not yet been written, so how “The Office” will end is not set in stone. There may be a clue in the fact that Daniels’ favorite TV series finale was “Newhart,” where Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife on his previous series “The Bob Newhart Show,” making the whole “Newhart” series a dream.

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“There’s an idea, but it’s a very collaborative process, and every time we have a table reading, somebody comes up with a better idea than we had in the script, and sometimes it pulls the story forward a little bit, and then we have to invent something at the end, so we do have a goal that we’ve aiming for, but how we get there is changing,” he added.

So, while Daniels wasn’t able to reveal any specific details about the end of “The Office,” here are five things he did share about the finale:

The decision to end the series was not a financial one: Economics did not play a part in the decision to shutter “The Office” at the end of Season 9, according to Daniels, who believes that NBC would have had them back for Season 10 if the cast and producers had been so inclined. “This decision to end it here was made by pretty much everybody who is a producer now, which includes a lot of the main cast. The contracts for the entire cast were up in Season 8. In discussing what we would do, if we wanted to keep going, it was a lot about having a great final, creative tying‑up‑all‑the‑storylines year,” which is just what Season 9 is all about.

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Former Dunder Mifflin branch manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) won’t be making an appearance: Earlier this month, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said that it was not likely that the former star of the series was likely to return for the finale, which Daniels confirmed. “Steve is very much of the opinion that the ‘Goodbye Michael’ episode and the story arc that we did leading up to it was his goodbye to the fans and the show, and the stuff we’re doing this season is the goodbye that the rest of the show gets to have,” Daniels said. “So at the moment we don’t have any plans for him to come back.”

What can fans expect to see in the next few months?: So far this season, Melora Hardin returned as Jan. In an upcoming episode, Zach Woods (Gabe Lewis) comes back and B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) is expected to be in the finale. Also, if production on Mindy Kaling’s (Kelly Kapoor) FOX series permits, it is possible she could return, as well. “Basically what we’re doing is all the really cool ideas that would break the show that we had over the years that we were like, ‘That’s really cool, but I don’t see how you come back from that,’” Daniels said. “We’ve saved all those up, and we’re gonna start bringing them out in a couple episodes.”

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Someone gets fired before the series finale: In Episode 15, one of the staff members of Dunder Mifflin will get the axe, and the secondary characters will get their own special storylines or moments as the end draws near. “One of the ideas for the season was there would be a ‘Goodbye Meredith’ episode, a ‘Goodbye Stanley’ episode, a lot of different episodes like that, and I think we’re trying to give each character a really good, interesting moment or send‑off,” Daniels added.

Will there be a movie?: Although it is unlikely that such a project will happen, Daniels doesn’t completely discount it saying, “We have considered that, but we have to finish this and let everybody decompress. I am sure there will be a moment where it would be the maximal moment to do an ‘Office’ movie in terms of the cast being ready to do a movie.”

“The Office” airs Thursday nights at 9/8c on NBC.