NBC’s The Office ended its season last night with a special one-hour episode entitled “Search Committee.” In it, Jim (John Krasinski), Toby (Paul Lieberstein), and Gabe (Zach Woods) interview a wide variety of candidates vying for the manager position at Dundler Mifflin Sabre. Jo (Kathy Bates, whose NBC series Harry’s Law was just renewed) returns to check on the process, but gives little input on who should be chosen. Jo does send Gabe back to Florida, though, when it’s clear that he has gotten too personally involved in office drama, and replaces him on the panel with Kelly (Mindy Kaling). Angela (Angela Kinsey) gets engaged to her senator boyfriend, and the staff wonders if they should tell her that he’s gay. Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) wonders if she might be Erin’s (Ellie Kemper) mother. Ellie makes a play to win back Andy (Ed Helms). And Pam (Jenna Fischer) tries to keep acting manager Creed (Creed Bratton) from losing all their clients.
The Office brings in some heavy star power to apply for the top job, though few are serious contenders. Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is the briefest cameo, complete with funny accent, concerned with getting back to his family in the Finger Lakes. Real life Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is similarly quick, but surprisingly funny as he tries to negotiate a salary. Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying) reprises his British The Office character of David Brent for the second time this season. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) leaves surprisingly little impression, while Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond, Men of a Certain Age) kills as a bumbling nervous applicant.
Neither Carrey or Gervais, who have movie careers, Arnett, who is already starring in a new series next season, Romano, who has a show on TNT, nor Buffett, a real CEO, will be the boss. All have prior, more important commitments. They are a welcome diversion in a fantastic and memorable episode, but that is all they are. While speculation will continue to reign over who will ultimately get the job, it is not worth talking about any of those applicants in any serious manner.
Perhaps the only two possible contenders from the guest star list are James Spader (Boston Legal) and Catherine Tate (Doctor Who). Tate’s character is completely unpredictable, changing her opinions constantly, but she is a friend of Jo’s, and that gives her a leg up. Spader delights as a creepy salesman who insists there are no products to sell, just sex. His time on screen is short, though longer than the other guest stars, and it reminds viewers just how good he is, and how he should be back on series television as soon as humanly possible. Either Spader or Tate could fit well with the current ensemble.
There are also applicants from within the office vying for the position in front of the “search committee.” Jim’s favorite, and the frontrunner going in, is Darryl (Craig Robinson). Sadly, Darryl botches his interview, doesn’t have a resume, ends up making a terrible resume, disappoints Jo, and resorts to cheap tricks with his daughter to try to win the position. Even Jim begins to look exasperated with him by the end. This likely spells the end of his efforts. Kelly fares worse, being laughed out of her interview almost as soon as it starts.
Andy could possibly be the new front runner. He is underwhelming, but as he says, he will not make waves or changes. Dunder Mifflin Sabre has been through a lot lately, and Andy’s leadership style may be just what they need. Though not an early favorite, as Gabe goes on the attack during the initial interview out of jealousy over Erin, he distinguishes himself as he decides to really go for it. He is educated and qualified, and isn’t contributing much to the company as a salesman. It could be a perfect storm, or lack of other options.