Why Will Ferrell's Visit To 'The Office' Could Be A Bad Idea

Will Ferrell and Steve Carell present the Achievement in Make-up award on stage during the Academy Awards in 2006. This spring, Ferrell will visit Carell's show, The Office. i i

Will Ferrell and Steve Carell present the Achievement in Make-up award on stage during the Academy Awards in 2006. This spring, Ferrell will visit Carell's show, The Office. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Will Ferrell and Steve Carell present the Achievement in Make-up award on stage during the Academy Awards in 2006. This spring, Ferrell will visit Carell's show, The Office.

Will Ferrell and Steve Carell present the Achievement in Make-up award on stage during the Academy Awards in 2006. This spring, Ferrell will visit Carell's show, The Office.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As I mentioned in this morning's news roundup, we learned yesterday that Will Ferrell is scheduled for a multiple-episode arc later in this season of The Office.

My heart sank at this news — and I basically like Will Ferrell.

A little background: This is Steve Carell's last season on The Office as Michael Scott, a character who has been up, down, battered, noble, lonely and in love over the seven seasons of the show's run. It's going to be very difficult for it to carry on without him, but the producers are determined to try, and I'm still hoping Darryl (Craig Robinson) will be put in charge.

But Carell — Michael, really — deserves the fullest, most carefully developed send-off they can give him. There's always been a mix of clowning and character on this particular show, and they have to do Michael's departure carefully just like they had to do Jim and Pam's wedding carefully. It's an important event, and the core cast should be the focus.

So hearing that Ferrell's appearance will overlap, beginning before Michael leaves and continuing for at least one episode after, is a little troubling. Deadline is reporting that the idea is that Ferrell will "create a bridge." But how? How does an unfamiliar person who has nothing to do with the show create a bridge from one era he's not part of to another era he's not part of? Yes, I understand it could keep viewers from instantly tuning out the minute Carell is gone, since Ferrell will be around for perhaps a couple more episodes, but it doesn't solve the problem, and meanwhile, it distracts from what the show needs to be doing at that time, which is dealing with Michael. It will depend a little on how big the overlap is; if it's true that only one of Ferrell's episodes happens after Michael leaves, that means he'll be in the way more than if he's there mostly after Michael is gone. But either way, it's a distraction.

As I said, I like Ferrell, and I think he's a good actor, and he's not just a big goof — he was very interesting in Stranger Than Fiction with Emma Thompson, for instance. But here, they're promising he's going to be around for several episodes being "just as inappropriate" as Michael. I would love to be proved wrong, but this smacks of a stunt that's going to pull focus from what I'm going to be interested in at the time it's happening. The last thing I want to do during those episodes is watch Will Ferrell cranked up to eleven.

It was pointed out in the comments this morning that The Office has managed to make good use of guest actors, including Idris Elba and Timothy Olyphant, and I don't disagree. But I do think Kathy Bates has mostly been a distraction and a stunt who never grew into a character (despite the greatness of the actress), and neither Elba nor Olyphant has Ferrell's tendency toward mania, which is the last thing this show needs when it already has Carell, Ed Helms, and Rainn Wilson in the cast.

It just seems ... unnecessary. There's less than half a season left, and Michael is reportedly out the door four episodes before the season finale, which means Carell has maybe six episodes to go, give or take? There's really not a lot of time left for redundancies.

It's like putting granola on a grilled cheese sandwich: both elements are fine, but of what benefit is the combination of the two?

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