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Same As The Old Boss?

NBC has released the first promo for the James Spader version of The Office, and it’s pretty much cutting up his cameo from the “Search Committee” episode with Duffy on the soundtrack:

You buying? Is this just transplanting The Practice‘s Alan Shore to Scranton? Would you have preferred Denny Crane? Should there even BE another season of The Office without Steve Carell (or, for that matter, Ricky Gervais, although that ship sailed a long time ago)?

Add to that the Ashton Kutcher/Charlie Sheen swap, and, of course, there’s always the issue of regenerating Doctor Whos, ever-changing Batmans and Supermans and Spider-Mans (Batmen?  Supermen?  Spider-Men?) and the change (due to Richard Harris’ death) in Dumbledores in the Harry Potter franchise. What recastings or replacements were acceptable, and which weren’t?  We can go a long way back for this: Mike for Joel on MST3K? Rebecca in and Diane out on Cheers? The two Dicks on Bewitched? Characters have been recast or replaced or just plain killed off on TV and in movie franchises forever; which swaps have been the best or worst? Comments below, please.

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  1. sean says:

    OMG. He’s old and fat. And not in a good sugar-daddy way.


  2. Stephen says:

    Michael was always my least favorite character on The Office. So, I’m happy he’s gone. I like Carrell but I can’t stand Michael and I’d despise him even more if I had to have him in my real life.

  3. Thee Opinionator says:

    James spader looks like the love child of Christopher Walken and John Lithgow! He didnt just hit the wall, he went right through it like the Kool-Aid Man.

  4. The Best Switch on Television has to be the Becky switch on Rosanne, Sarah Chalke was a lot less annoying and WAY WAY HOTTER, than Alicia Goranson.

  5. Josh K says:

    The Office has been on the air too many seasons. It should have ended a couple of seasons ago. A good rule of thumb would be the first child or the second wedding. An episode here or there may be good, but the general product tends to suck.

    As for switching characters… I’m usually okay with it as long as the new actor doesn’t replace the exact role as the outgoing actor. Doctor Who being perhaps the only series to make that work. Doctor Who’s explanation made sense. AND William Hartnell only had 3 series.

  6. Ifrinn says:

    I think replacements or recasts can work depending on what type of show it is. A small cast, character driven show like Two and a Half Men it isn’t going to work as well. Unless they throw the show into a whole new dynamic that catches viewers attention.

    With ensemble casts though, like Mash (mentioned earlier) or Law and Order, it can work much better because the show doesn’t rely on just one or two characters. The Office could really improve if it started changing characters or it could go down hill. To be honest I’ve never cared that much for The Office becase I couldn’t stand Steve Carell’s character. I just might give it a try now that he is leaving.

  7. Brad says:

    During the past couple seasons of the Office, fans who have been around from the start have been open about how we feel the show has been declining. That, coupled with Steve’s departure, is what has most fans feeling the show should call it quits. It no longer feels like a mockumentary, but like your average sitcom filled with caricatured characters (Kevin, the dumb one. Oscar, the gay one. Creed, creepy. Meredith, drunk whore.) One could argue they were always these cliches, but they also used to get fleshed-out. Not anymore. Kevin used to be engaged, had a band, went through heartbreak, and went looking for love. Now he only ever makes self-deprecating one-liners.

    If Spader can bring something fresh to the show, then that’s awesome! However, if Spader gets used the way Bates was as Jo Bennet, then I don’t see this being much of an improvement. As @junesongprovider has pointed out, Spader will not be taking Steve’s role as branch manager for the season. Because of this, I don’t view his involvement in the show as a recasting or replacement, but more as a new addition like Ellie Kemper was or Ed Helms.

  8. And stuff says:

    Holy macaroni! James Spader is starting to look like a cross between John Lovitz and Dave Foley!

  9. Artie says:

    @Topher: No. No. No.

    No. If you’ve seen any recent Muppetry, you’d realize that any old actor CAN’T replace Jim (well, maybe someone could, but Steve Whitmire is not that someone).

  10. stl_ben says:

    Becky on Rosanne switch…and then switch back

  11. Julie Boulware says:

    Doctor regenerations, best plot device ever. and in nearly 50 years, some wonderful actors have portrayed The Doctor.
    would like a Donna Noble/Lauren Cooper aka Catherine Tate in at The Office, although i suspect NBC won’t be bovvered to try. i’m all for increasing the Whovian universe.

  12. Topher says:

    Aaron brings up a point and inspires a tangent: What do folks think of other puppeteers portraying the Muppets? Surely, anyone can strap a sock to their hand and play Kermit the Frog, right?

    Everything is a remix.

  13. Aaron says:

    Recasting a role goes back to the ancient beginnings of drama – live theater.

    Identifying a character with a specific actor is really more of a 20th century novelty.

    Without recasting you would just have stanky old corpses shuffling around on wires in every Shakespeare play, and as rad as that would be it might be difficult to manage.

  14. scott says:

    Although you couldn’t pay me to watch Two and a Half Men (before or after Sheen)…Ashton Kutcher for Sheen is a terrible proposition.

  15. Adam says:

    Whoever they pick should at least be given a chance. I thought The Daily Show would be over after Craig Kilborn left, and now we have Jon Stewart, so anything can happen…

  16. James says:

    Alan Shore and Denny Crane started on the last season of The Practice, but are much more wildly known for the spinoff Boston Legal.

  17. junesongprovider says:

    James Spader is only going to be branch manager for like one or two episodes. Then he gets promoted to CEO of Sabre. It looks like the new manager may be an inside promote, since they already added someone high caliber to the show in a supporting role.

    Also, I don’t put any stock in people’s worries that Steve Carrell’s departure means the end of the show. I don’t know about you guys, but I never ever watched exclusively for Michael. He was great of course, but he was never my favorite character or ever felt like the center of the show to me. I will continue watching for sure.

  18. Perry G. says:

    FYI: As somebody pointed out on facebook, Alan Shore and Denny Crane are characters from Boston Legal, and not The Practice.

  19. Jared says:

    I really think this should be the last season of The Office and would love to see a succession of bosses. Have a new boss every few weeks showing that Michael Scott was really the only person who could handle the branch. Great way to work in a ton of guest stars and go out on some sort of high note rather than fade away.

  20. Scarlett says:

    I am never a fan of re-casting or even ADDING characters to shows. Like when Who’s The Boss? added that kid Billy. I hated him so much that I now refer to characters i HATE as The “Billy” of the show.

  21. Lincoln says:

    I agree. It should have been “if Carell leaves, just make a reason for the show to end”. It’s not going to be the same because Michael Scott was the heart of the show. We ended up loving other characters (Jim, Pam, Dwight, Andy, etc) but we watched for Michael. And now he’s gone.

  22. mike says:

    don’t forget MASH. I think by the end there were only 3 original characters and that is still the biggest sitcom ratings leader. It can work. With television it’s not only the actors, the writers are more important in many ways. If yo have the right actors to pull of the writing, things will be fine. That’s why The Office works. The writing has always driven that show. That’s why after season one and the no longer had the English Office to base the structure on the writers took the pieces of what came before and ran with it. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with the office so I have hope

  23. Courtland says:

    I personally wasn’t much of a fan of his character in “search committee” . I thought Catherine Tate would’ve made the best replacement though that may be inner Whovian coming out.