According to NBC executive Robert Greenblatt, fans of "The Office" can expect many more guest stars in the eighth season. As a fan of the show since its first season, I find this news to be a little troubling. The announcement seems to indicate that "The Office" will use guest stars in gimmicky ways to draw ratings. That is something that doesn't excite me. The show has gone strong for seven years without relying too heavily on guest stars. I'm not sure that changing courses with big names is the right way to go.
In the seventh season finale, "The Office" rolled out the red carpet by bringing in Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, Ricky Gervais, Warren Buffett, James Spader, and Catherine Tate as guest stars. I was nervous about that proposition before the episode aired, but it worked well. However, I don't think that's a sign that "The Office" needs to do this more frequently. The show is already going to have a fresh look by adding James Spader and losing Steve Carell. I'd rather see the show grow in its new form instead of using gimmicks to draw ratings.
Over the years, "The Office" hasn't brought in too many big name stars to play roles. Even when Jack Black appeared on the show, he only did so in a movie that Pam, Jim, and Andy were watching a computer. That was a clever way to use him and it worked. The problem with using big name stars is that they tend to eat up the scenery. That works for some shows, including "30 Rock" and "Modern Family." But for "The Office," the mood of the show is a lot different from those shows. Guest stars have largely been used as background characters on the show, and that has worked well. What kind of roles would these new guest stars play?
I understand why Greenblatt is excited about this. NBC has suffered in the ratings for a long time. Despite strong shows on Thursday nights, NBC is continuing to lose ground. With the loss of Carell, the fear is that many fans will leave "The Office" behind. I don't really feel that way, but I understand why they do. The addition of guest stars is a great way to draw in fans who wouldn't normally watch the show. If "The Office" is really going to pursue this course of action, I hope they find smart ways to use guests. If there are too many, they run the risk of drowning out the new vibe of the show. There is a smart writing staff at work here, so I have faith they will figure it out. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little apprehensive.
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