TV

12 Steps to Making the Next Season of 'The Office' More Watchable

1. Reset Dunder Mifflin Under the Old Management — The one great thing about last week’s episode is that this appears to be the end-game: The old CEO of Dunder Mifflin, David Wallace, is set to buy out the company, using Andy’s poached client as leverage. This will effectively give David Wallace his old job back, and dispose of the misguided Robert California experiment.

2. Get Rid of Nellie — The amount of damage that Nellie has done to “The Office” this season is immeasurable. It’s not enough that she’s simply written out of the show; she needs to suffer a horrible, hilarious work-place related harm, the lawsuit of which will bankrupt Robert California, making it even easier for David Wallace to take over Dunder Mifflin again.

3. Write Out Andy and Erin — They’ve had a few moments, but their character arcs have been exhausted to the point of tedium. There was never enough lead-character appeal in either of them to make them the romantic centerpiece of the show, so there was little suspense in their will they/won’t they relationship. A happy send off is fine, just as long as they’re sent off for good.

4. Bring Back Jan Levinson — With Andy and Erin gone, and David Wallace running the company from up high, bringing back Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin) as the new branch manager makes practical sense. The new office dynamic would closer reflect the early seasons of “The Office,” minus Michael Scott. Jan Levinson could also serve as one of the new focuses of the show, a single-working mom with a drinking problem dealing with running an office and dating. She’s also smart enough to be the voice of reason on the show, a voice that the show has been missing for several years.

5. Hire Writers Who Have Actually Worked in an Office — The biggest single problem with “The Office” over the last several seasons is that it’s lost its relatable appeal. Early seasons of the show fell under the “funny because it’s true” category of office life. Lately, nothing in Dunder Mifflin bears any resemblance at all to an actual office. A writer with some actual office experience to pull from could get the show back to its comedic roots.

6. Hire Mike Judge as the New Showrunner — Greg Daniels is working on a new show, Michael Shur is preoccupied with “Parks and Recreation,” and the current showrunner, Paul Lieberstein, is on his way out. Who knows how to satirize office life better than Mike Judge, the man behind Office Space? His feature film career never really took off, and all he is doing of late is “Beavis and Butthead.” This could be a positive career move for Judge and the shot of creative energy the show needs. It would also make practical sense, as “The Office” creator, Greg Daniels, has a relationship with Judge from their work together on “King of the Hill.”

7. Never, Ever Make the Position of Branch Manager a Storyline Again — Write out Andy, don’t hold any sort of competition, bring in Jan Levinson, and let the subject of branch manager be settled for good. The revolving door in the branch manager’s office has been tedious and exhausting, and the audience simply doesn’t have the patience for any more drama surrounding that position. We don’t need any more episodes — or episode arcs — devoted to who is going to be the boss.

8. Provide an Underdog Arc — The season-long storyline should focus on a struggling Dunder Mifflin trying to survive in an increasingly paperless economy. The office has to evolve or die, and this would actually give the characters a cause to rally around. There’s no emotional center left in the show and part of that is because the characters are always at odds. If Dunder Mifflin actually had something to fight for, the chemistry between the character might once again congeal and they can be brought together to fight a common enemy: Irrelevance.

9. Provide a Compelling Romantic Storyline — The romantic pairings on “The Office” haven’t been interesting since Jim and Pam got married, but there’s also no other characters in the current cast that would make a compelling, lead romantic storyline. Why not go back to Jim and Pam? The sweetest, most romantic storylines on “Parks and Recreation” actually involve existing couples — Andy and April, Leslie and Ben — so there’s no reason why “The Office” cannot introduce a new obstacle to overcome in Jim and Pam’s relationship. John Krasinski has feature-film obligations next season, so why not allow Jim to take a better paying job with another company in New York City, a job necessary to allow him to support his family. The long-distance relationship could provide plenty of romantic possibilities, specifically in the romantic gesture department, which is where Jim and Pam subplots have always excelled. Pam, meanwhile, can be left behind to pick up the prank slack with Dwight.

10. Bring Back Roy — If Jim is working in another city, there’s no better time to bring back Pam’s old fiance, Roy. With Jim out of the office, he may think he has a chance with Pam. After a long stretch of absence, and after a few drinks, a regretful kiss between a newly matured Roy and Pam would inject friction in Jim and Pam’s relationship.

11. Bring Back Danny — What the hell happened to Timothy Olyphant’s character? He was great, not just because he was Timothy Olyphant, but because he provided some actual competition for Jim and Dwight. Also, he’s Timothy Olyphant. When Jim leaves to take another position in another city, Danny could fill his post for several episodes and provide some beefcake fodder for Pam, Jan, and the rest of the office to drool over.

12. End the Show After the Season — Announce at upfronts next week that this will be the last season of “The Office.” With an end date in sight, some of the plotlines described above will carry more weight. For instance, if the office is fighting for its survival, there’s be a legitimate concern that it will shut down for good at the end of the season (although, my preference would be that they turn the office around and make it so profitable that it’s bought out by a much larger corporate entity that outsources all of their jobs, ending the show on a bittersweet note). Moreover, the long-distance relationship between Jim and Pam could be resolved with one huge romantic gesture in the series finale.

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