By Tom Comi
One of the great things about big-time movie stars who got their start in television is they rarely forget their roots. And that’s why I am embracing with open arms Will Ferrell’s four-episode guest appearance on NBC’s The Office.
Ferrell, who got his feet wet on Saturday Night Live, makes his sitcom premiere tonight (9pm ET) as a possible replacement for office boss Michael Scott — who is played brilliantly by the departing Steve Carell. And for those who have followed the careers of both funnymen, it’s no secret that they are close personally and professionally.
The two co-starred in the 2004 comedy Anchorman, so it will be a real treat to watch them perform together again. And with such a well-rounded cast that also includes Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Brian Baumgartner and Ed Helms, there should be a ton of laughs for loyal fans (especially since Wilson’s Dwight Schrute appears to be very threatened by Ferrell’s character).
My fear, though, is that the fun will end when Carell walks away (his last episode airs April 28; the show continues for a few more weeks after that, until the season finale on May 19). The supporting cast is called “supporting” for good reason, because there doesn’t appear to be a candidate to step forward and fill Carell’s giant shoes. And while Ferrell provides a nice diversion, it is merely a Band-Aid to cover the giant wound the show will face when it returns next fall.
I have always been a huge fan of The Office, so I am cautiously optimistic that the producers will find someone worthy to headline the show. The key is to find an actor completely different than Carell so as to avoid any direct and unfair comparisons. Perhaps that means putting a witty female in charge, such as Sarah Silverman or Kathy Griffin (gasp!).
If Dwight has trouble dealing with a temporary male boss, imagine how great it would be if he had to answer daily to a woman. It might not be as hilarious as the upcoming appearances with Ferrell and Ricky Gervais, but it could make for some very funny television.
© NBC Universal, Inc. Credit: Chris Haston/NBC