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New Season of ‘The Office’ Will Be Its Last

By DAVE ITZKOFF
Rainn Wilson, Chris Bauer  and John Krasinski.Danny Feld/NBCRainn Wilson, Chris Bauer and John Krasinski.

It’s time to take a last nostalgic look at Jim, Pam and Dwight and their quotidian struggles and successes at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin paper company as they’ve been documented on “The Office.” When that NBC comedy begins its ninth season on Sept. 20, it will be the final season of the series, its executive producer Greg Daniels said on Tuesday.

“We have thought about what the future of the show should be and always held the values that we should feel like a family and make something that has a lot of artistic integrity,” Mr. Daniels said in a conference call. “And so this year feels like for us the last chance to really go out together and to make an artistic ending for the show, that pays off a lot of the stuff that has mattered most to fans, with the core characters. So this will be the last season of ‘The Office,’ and we’re planning a very big, exciting last season.”

Adapted from the British documentary-style comedy created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, “The Office” made its debut on NBC in the spring of 2005. The American incarnation, adapted by Mr. Daniels, introduced viewers to the ingratiating but ultimately loveable regional manager Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell); his officious underling, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson); and the perennial will-they-or-won’t-they couple of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer). After some early adjustments “The Office” became a cornerstone of NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup, drawing some 8 to 9 million viewers per episode each season and always performing strongly with coveted younger viewers.

As the seasons unfolded, new characters were added and stories progressed; Jim and Pam got married and Michael left the office to be with his fiancee – a plot line created for Mr. Carell, who departed the show in April 2011 and focused on his burgeoning film career. “The Office” seemed to struggle with its narrative after Mr. Carell’s departure, cycling through various guest stars and candidates to take over Michael Scott’s managerial duties, before settling on the compliant character of Andy Bernard (Ed Helms).

Mr. Daniels, who was the show runner of “The Office” for its first five seasons and is returning to that position for its last season, said that he and his colleagues considered a “reboot” of the show in which a new roster of Dunder Mifflin employees and stories would be introduced.

“You could see a world where new people just keep coming on the show,” Mr. Daniels said. But he said he was won over by “this feeling of family and wanting to wrap up these arcs and do justice to the existing characters in the most creative and explosive way,” and a sense that continuing “The Office” in a different direction “wouldn’t be the same show.”

While Season 9 of “The Office” will introduce new characters played by Clark Duke and Jake Lacy, Mr. Daniels said it will focus on resolving long-running narratives. (“Basically, all questions will be answered this year,” he said.)

Mr. Daniels said the coming season will be “a big Jim and Pam year”; that Dwight will donate to the Taliban as part of an office charity drive; and that viewers will learn the identity of the Scranton Strangler, and meet the documentary crew that has been filming “The Office” all along.

Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight, will be “a precious resource which is limited,” Mr. Daniels said, because he is departing for an “Office” spinoff that will focus on his character. (The spinoff, known as “The Farm,” is being created by Paul Lieberstein, an executive producer of “The Office” who also plays its nebbishy human resources officer, Toby Flenderson.)

Mr. Daniels said he would “certainly wish for” Mr. Carell to reappear on “The Office” in its final season but could not guarantee that his Michael Scott character would be back.

“We’re not going to put so much pressure on Steve by writing something that can only work if he returns,” he said. “But it would be fantastic if he would return. I think that, for him, he really loved how he was exited, and is probably anxious about not messing up such a stylish exit.”

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