As the death throes of “The Office” continue to flush out casualties — James Spader, Paul Lieberstein, and Mindy Kaling are off the show, and B.J. Novak, Ed Helms, and John Krasinski look to have reduced roles next season — the Pièce de résistance of the sitcom’s demise continues to move ahead. For some reason, NBC is under the misconception that what we really want is more Dwight Shrute, specifically Dwight Schrute on his farm. TVLine has uncovered some details about the planned spin-off, and from what I can see, they’re going to sitcom the sh*t out of it.
The spin-off will air, first, as an episode of “The Office,” and if it does well with audiences (and it will, because we’re all morbidly curious), that episode will act as a backdoor pilot to the new series, which will star Rainn Wilson. The show will follow “Dwight and his kin [who will] inherit a large family farm/bed-and-breakfast. When the bespectacled beet farmer decides to give the new venture a go, he must talk his brother and sister into joining him.” The show will contain these characters:
FANNIE SCHRUTE | Attractive, urban and in her late 20s/early 30s, Dwight’s younger sister fled the Schrute farm life for Boston as soon as she could, and has had little to do with her roots for quite some time. Now divorced with one son, Fannie is “a bit of a pseudo-intellectual lefty” with an ironic sense of humor and a great heart.
JEB SCHRUTE | Dwight’s easygoing thirtysomething brother hasn’t done well in any of the career paths he’s followed – worm breeder and Bigfoot hunter among them — but has found some success with a pot farm. He’s got none of Dwight’s dedication or work ethic, but he has made an exercise video about things you can do with a knife and a canoe.
CAMERON WHITMAN | Dwight’s smart and slightly weird 9-year-old nephew (Fannie’s son) is a cosmopolitan lad who nevertheless feels the pull of his Schrute heritage, especially when he’s around someone — his uncles, perhaps? — who can offer the fatherly guidance he lacks.
HEINRICH MANHEIM | The Schrute siblings’ great uncle is charming, greedy, manipulative… and just may have had to spend time in Argentina following World War II, thanks to his German National Socialist roots. Oh, and he vows to kill Dwight by the end of the first episode.
So, fish-out-of-water, then, huh? Let me cast that for them: Fannie will probably be played by Kathryn Hahn, because she’s the go-to-girl for moderately attractive women whose shows are destined to be cancelled; the precocious teenager will be a nobody; the stoner brother could be Judah Friedlander (since “30 Rock” is ending) or they could go younger, better looking with Dave Franco; and the greedy uncle could be Ray Wise, which would actually be a reason to watch the damn show.
But you shouldn’t, because Paul Lieberstein — who plays Toby — will be the showrunner, and he’s the guy who has manhandled “The Office” the last few terrible seasons. In fact, I’d wager that “The Office” next season will be better than the Shrute spin-off because at least Greg Daniels — the original showrunner — is taking over “The Office” again this fall.