Yesterday, NBC confirmed that James Spader, who was brought in this season to play Dunder Mufflin CEO Robert California will not be returning to the show next season.
According to Variety and E! Online, Spader originally only signed a contract to be on The Office for one season, for a minimum of 15 episodes. As of now, his character has been seen in the majority of the episodes this season, but not all of them. Many people presume that Spader was brought in to replace the departed (and sorely missed Steve Carell) who left at the end of season seven, however, Spader actually replaced Kathy Bates on the series, who had to devote all her time to another NBC series, Harry’s Law.
What’s left for The Office now? Spader is out at the end of the season, Rainn Wilson may be departing the series if NBC picks up the Dwight Schrute-based spin-off that’s set to air during an Office episode this season, and Mindy Kaling may also be leaving The Office if her Fox pilot is picked up to series.
The Office isn’t what is used to be, quality and ratings wise, but The Office is still NBC’s top comedy on Thursdays. Even though the network hasn’t formally picked the show up for a ninth season, it’s a safe bet the show will be returning since the only long-term comedy prospect NBC has produced this season is Up All Night, which only averages 4 million viewers, not enough to take over as NBC’s flagship comedy series.
With Carell long gone, Spader heading out the door, and Wilson’s spin-off guaranteed to be picked up, hopefully the network and Office producers will come together and realized that season nine should be the shows last, and give this series the proper swan song it deserves.