So, Rainn Wilson tweeted out yesterday that NBC has passed on Schrute Farms, the spin-off of The Office that was supposed to follow Dwight Schrute to a beet farm and bed and breakfast. Wilson broke the news himself on Twitter: “Farm Update: NBC has passed on moving forward with The Farm TV show. Had a blast making the pilot – onwards & upwards!” I was never particularly on board with the spin-off, although — like Josh — I’m going to miss The Office characters, even if the show is a former shell of itself. That’s not the worry, however; the worry is what this continues to mean for NBC.
The network’s decision to cancel Schrute Farms is really just another reminder of the direction the network is determined to take away from single-camera comedies and toward broader, laugh track comedies. It’s why they killed Dane Cook’s Next Caller. It’s why they announced a format change for Up All Night yesterday, and it’s why Community, 30 Rock, and The Office won’t be back next season. Parks and Recreation probably won’t be back next year, either, which means — for most of us — there will no longer be a reason to watch NBC (well, except for Parenthood, which is amazing). NBC won’t even be a recognizable network come next season; it will be the Revolution and The Voice network.
The irony, I guess, is that NBC seems to be trying to recapture its past glory, and all of NBC’s biggest hits were multi-cam, laugh-track sitcoms: Friends, Cheers, Seinfeld, Cosby Show and Frasier. Maybe NBC just doesn’t realize that the laugh tracks weren’t what made those sitcoms successful;it was the writing, and so far, NBC hasn’t shown any willingness to invest in that.
It should be noted, however, that we will likely see the pilot for Scrhute Farms, as it was filmed as an episode of The Office.