Let’s face it: Season 8 of The Office was like getting a Prism Durosport for Christmas when you really wanted an iPod. Meandering plots, characters acting out of, well, character and an overall lack of focus dragged down the NBC comedy’s first full year without Steve Carell.
Enter original showrunner Greg Daniels, who is back at the helm and determined to reestablish The Office as Must-See TV — albiet during the show’s just-announced final season. Here, the boss lays out his Season 9 game plan — which includes a more aggressive Andy, several fresh faces and a tormented Nellie.
TVLINE | What was your primary mission when approaching this season?
I want to tell big arcs for the main characters and regain that sense of needing to see each episode when it airs to find out what is happening next. I want to keep the drama hot and juicy and the comedy cold and crunchy, basically imitating the old McDLT campaign for McDonalds.
TVLINE | Last season Andy was more of an off-and-on boss. Is this the season he fully takes the reins at DM-Scranton?
David Wallace, who now owns Dunder Mifflin, sends Andy for Outward Bound-leadership training over the summer and he comes back pretty aggressively in charge.
TVLINE | Andy and Erin — what is the state of their relationship this season? What is their next obstacle? Same question for Jim and Pam. And Dwight and Angela.
All the main characters will have serial stories and relationship arcs. It will be more fun to experience the twists and turns while watching if I don’t spell it all out for you here.
TVLINE | How will Nellie fit into the office this season?
At the end of last year, Andy softened and allowed Nellie to stay as Director of Special Projects. But he comes back from Outward Bound with the confidence and desire to torment Nellie for what she did to him last year and make her quit.
TVLINE | Describe the two new characters played by Jake Lacy and Clark Duke.
Jake and Clark play Pete and Clark, two guys in their mid-20s who have been hired to go through the 4,000-plus unanswered customer complaint voicemails that Kelly leaves behind when she goes.
TVLINE | What brings Roy back?
Jim and Pam are invited to Roy’s wedding in Episode 2.
The Office‘s ninth season premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9/8c on NBC.