Dunder Mifflin is going into receivership: The Office creator Greg Daniels announced this week that the upcoming ninth season of NBC's once-beloved comedy will be its last. Ratings thudded to an all-time low last season following the exit of Steve Carrell, and the once-incisive comedy was widely panned for aimless storylines and witless scripts. "If a long-running sitcom announces its ending, but its fan base has already abandoned it, does it make a sound?" muses Hillary Busis at Entertainment Weekly. Here, the early word on how The Office will say goodbye to its few remaining viewers:
1. Classic characters will be reunited
"We're going to have a lot of familiar faces coming back," says creator Daniels. Here's what we know: Pam's ex-fiance Roy is getting hitched, and invites Jim and Pam to the wedding. Former top boss David Wallace will also return. And Carrell? Daniels says he'd love to have Michael Scott make one last cameo, but doesn't want to force the issue since the character went out on such an "incredibly high note" at the end of season seven, says Adam Chitwood at Collider.
2. Dwight Schrute's spin-off will be introduced, for better or worse
The show, notes Daniels, will explicitly sow the seeds for The Farm, an NBC spin-off based (however unwisely) on Rainn Wilson's quirky, beet-harvesting Star Wars junkie Dwight Schrute (in which Dwight will reportedly inherit a bed-and-breakfast and enlist his sister and nephew to help him run it). Of course, spin-offs can be some of the "riskiest endeavors" in the TV world, says Kelsea Stahler at Hollywood.com. You could strike gold like Kelsey Grammer did with his post-Cheers jaunt, Frasier. Or you could end up ruining a perfectly good thing the way Joey, a dismal postscript to Friends, did.
3. Expect a "big Jim and Pam year"
The final season's narrative will largely center around veteran characters, whom Daniels promises will get the ending they deserve. "We have a lot of great things planned this year... the ending should be pretty cool. Darryl will learn PowerPoint," jokes Daniels. But really, fans should expect a "big Jim and Pam year." Daniels calls the lovebirds the "heart and soul" of the show, and fans smitten by the duo should "be pleased and excited for what [producers] have planned for them."
4. We'll get to see who's behind the documentary
Perhaps most "intriguing" prospect of this swan-song season is that the audience will finally see who's filming the documentary that is The Office, says Sean O'Neal at The AV Club. "Is it aliens? We're going to guess 'aliens.'"