Feature

Can James Spader save The Office?

The Emmy-winning actor will reportedly join the cast of the long-running NBC hit — but not as Steve Carell's replacement

In James Spader's "funny" and "weird" guest appearance on The Office's season finale, he played a candidate interviewing for the Dunder Mifflin regional manager position vacated by Steve Carell's Michael Scott. But that's not the job Spader got. Entertainment Weekly reports that Spader will join the series next season as a replacement for Kathy Bates, who played Carell's boss, the CEO of the company that owns Dunder Mifflin. The Office's ratings fell eight percent last year, and many fans voiced dissatisfaction that producers failed to name a replacement for Carell. Will Spader's hire help the hit comedy gets its groove back?

This is just what the struggling show needs: After seven years, The Office "seems to be winding down," says Ethan Anderton at Collider, losing its freshness and, consequently, its funniness, but hiring Spader "is one way to get my attention back." It should be diverting to see "how Spader shakes...up" the increasingly stale relationships between the show's characters. "James Spader taking a job at The Office"

And the Kathy Bates twist is the "perfect compromise": When Spader made his cameo in May, "his charms were irresistible," says Meghan Carlson at Buddy TV. But, as Carell's successor, he would have "easily [ended] up steamrolling" the show's ensemble. Having Spader step into Bates' shoes instead is a brilliant solution. His distance from the day-to-day operations of Dunder Mifflin will "allow the in-Office characters room to breathe," but his looming presence means that he'll be able to pop by for a "jolt of sexed-up crazy" when needed."Sound off on The Office: Should James Spader be the new Sabre CEO?"

OK... but what about the new Michael Scott?: "I'm all for seeing Spader in the Dunder Mifflin mix," says Becky Kirsch at Buzz Sugar. Of the big-name guest stars in the season finale, he was "one of the funniest," and "quirky enough to fit right in." But this news doesn't resolve the still looming question: "Who will be stepping in to take over for Michael?" This pivotal position is still unfilled."Do you want to see James Spader on The Office full time?"

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