Depending on who you ask, the later seasons of “The Office” — even before Steve Carell left the series — were somewhat akin to beating the proverbial dead horse as the horror movie known as “Scott's Tots” illustrates. That could be especially painful when it came to how Dwight Schrute connected to Jim and Pam’s relationship. Well, as it turns out, if showrunner and creator Greg Daniels had his way, there would have been a literal dead horse added to the mix.
Entertainment Weekly's recent oral history of Jim and Pam's wedding — which took place in the two-part episode “Niagara” and aired 10 years ago this week — revealed that the six-season earnest culmination of the series' famed will-they-won't-they relationship almost ended with a twisted bit of darkness. In the oral history, episode director Paul Feig brought up the “big controversy” about the original wedding ending:
“All throughout the episode, Roy's [David Denman] been kind of haunting around and unhappy that they're getting married, so when they ask if anybody has reason why this couple can't get married, he rides into the church on a horse to sweep Pam off her feet like a knight in shining armor and declares, 'I have an objection.' And she's like, 'What are you doing? No, I want to get married,'” Feig said. “She sends him away, so he has to ride his horse back out of the church. But then, in an absolute insane thing, they had this crazy ending where Dwight [Rainn Wilson] gets the horse and rides it into the falls.”
The “crazy ending” was episode co-writer alongside Mindy Kaling Greg Daniels's idea. Daniels was admittedly “really committed to the horse for the longest time” and went on to explain even further how “The Office” would have gone from Point A to Point Literal Dead Horse:
“It was like Dwight got fascinated with this historical display at the hotel that talked about various animals,” Daniels said. “It started with a cow had been swept over the falls and survived, and then a couple of people tried to go over the falls in a barrel and were killed, and then some sheep went over the falls and survived. And he came up with this theory that you could survive going over the falls if you were riding a horse, because a horse would have the instinct of how to swim properly. And so he was trying to get people to listen to this theory, and then Roy interrupts the wedding trying to do a big, grand romantic gesture that nobody wants and just abandons the horse and drives home.”
“So Dwight gets on and goes into the river above the falls, but panics and jumps off the horse at the last second, while the horse goes over in the background of the wedding. I remember scouting this tank on the Universal lot and talking about how we're going to shoot this horse being swept over the waterfall. Then we got to the table read and I was the last defender of the horse. The entire staff and actors were yelling at me: 'Don't ruin Jim and Pam's wedding with a horse!'” Daniels remembered.
Instead, after a long debate between Daniels and the writers’ room, the wedding ended with a very 2009-appropriate viral dance down the aisle. While that choice certainly makes the episode a bit dated today, it's at least more tonally appropriate and memorable for the right reasons — compared to a dead horse.
After years of will they/won’t they/Roy they, Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly became husband and wife during the sixth season of The Office. “Niagara” is a lovely two-part episode, culminating in the couple getting hitched on the Maid of the Mist the viral video-inspired wedding dance is cute, too, even with the unfortunate attachment to Chris Brown, although it originally had a not-so-lovely ending involving Dwight and a horse.
Before the writers landed on the dance idea, “Niagara” co-writer Greg Daniels was “really committed” to Roy — Pam’s former partner who once attacked Jim — entering the church on a horse. “All throughout the episode, Roy’s been kind of haunting around and unhappy that they’re getting married,” director Paul Feig told Entertainment Weekly, “so when they ask if anybody has reason why this couple can’t get married, he rides into the church on a horse to sweep Pam off her feet like a knight in shining armor and declares, ‘I have an objection.’ And she’s like, ‘What are you doing? No, I want to get married.’ She sends him away, so he has to ride his horse back out of the church.”
In this draft, Roy slumps away and abandons the horse, giving Dwight an idea.
“Dwight got fascinated with this historical display at the hotel that talked about various animals. It started with a cow had been swept over the falls and survived, and then a couple of people tried to go over the falls in a barrel and were killed, and then some sheep went over the falls and survived. And he came up with this theory that you could survive going over the falls if you were riding a horse, because a horse would have the instinct of how to swim properly.”
According to Daniels, Dwight jumped off at the last second, “while the horse goes over in the background of the wedding.” The other writers, including Mindy Kaling, were not nearly as infatuated with this idea as Daniels “I don’t know, I think this is kind of dark and weird”, and it was eventually dropped. Like how that horse dropped into the falls.
As far as sitcom wedding shenanigans go, “Dwight kills a horse” falls somewhere between “Marshall gets a bad haircut” bottom of the list and “Uncle Jesse gets stuck in a tree after skydiving” list. Full House remains undefeated at sitcom shenanigans.
Despite creator Sam Esmail’s original five-season plan, USA’s Mr. Robot is coming to an end after season four. He made the decision during season three when he asked himself, “How many more episodes, without treading water, do we have to get the story from this point to that?” The answer was “13,” the first of which airs on October 6. That’s one fewer episode than the entire run of the BBC’s The Office, if you include the two Christmas specials, which Esmail says the final season was partially inspired by.
“I grew up watching a lot of British television — and a lot of those shows, specifically The Office, they sign off with a Christmas special. I’ve always found that fascinating because there’s something bittersweet about the holidays,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “Something is coming to an end, but there’s also something really optimistic about looking forward. I felt strongly that Christmas be the backdrop for how we ended this show.” Hopefully this doesn’t mean Elliot comes back years later, to diminishing returns.
Anyway, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and Mr. Robot is a Christmas show.
In a previous interview, Esmail revealed that season four is a throwback to the show’s freshman year. “The journey between seasons one to three has been about discovering who the real culprits are,” he said. “The hack was merely a distraction that was co-opted by these people, and it’s finally been revealed and exposed to Elliot. In a weird way, the next season will return back to that initial premise of the show and have Elliot be motivated by that, with this new clarity.” What this means for Alf, I can’t say.
NBCUniversal officially announced this week its new streaming platform called Peacock, which will include reboots of such series as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Saved By the Bell,” and “Punky Brewster.” While the Peacock streaming service will include original programming, one of the most lucrative titles that will make up its library is “The Office.” NBCU reportedly spent $500 million to purchase exclusive streaming rights to all nine seasons of the beloved sitcom, and it turns out that giant deal was made with every intention of rebooting the series on Peacock.
In a recent interview with Deadline, NBCU Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises Bonnie Hammer teased that a reboot of “The Office” is a top priority for the upcoming streaming service. “It is my hope and goal that we do an ‘Office’ reboot,” she said. “’The Office’ comes back to us in January 2021. It is my hope that we can figure what that great reboot would be. We are having conversations… We want there to be some connective tissue to what we also have in the library.”
A potential “The Office” reboot would no doubt be a huge attraction for Peacock, but one of the biggest questions facing a potential revival is the involvement of Steve Carell. The actor starred in the leading role of Michael Scott for seven of the show’s nine seasons and has been apprehensive about reprising the character in a reboot.
“I'll tell you, no,” Carell said when asked by Collider last year about a reboot. “The show is way more popular now than when it was on the air. I just can't see it being the same thing, and I think most folks would want it to be the same thing, but it wouldn't be. Ultimately, I think it's maybe best to leave well enough alone and just let it exist as what it was.”
Carell continued, “You'd literally have to have all of the same writers, the same producers, the same directors, and the same actors, and even with all of those components, it just wouldn't be the same. So, no. But, I love the show. It was the most exciting time, and all of those people are my friends. We all love it. It was a special thing. It was a special thing before people thought it was a special thing. It was special to us, before other people started feeling that way. But, no.”
NCU’s Peacock streaming service will launch in April 2020 with the complete series of “The Office” and over 15,000 hours of content. Popular on Indiewire ;
On Monday, Lily Singh became the first woman to host a late-night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, since Later‘s Cynthia Garrett in 2000-2001. “My writers’ room looks like a mini-United Nations, more than 50 percent women and people of all races,” she said during the episode. “And that’s not because I had to, it’s because I could. This is the new standard, so take notes, Hollywood.” The first guest on A Little Late, which replaced Last Call with Carson Daly in the 1:35 a.m. time slot: Mindy Kaling, and she and Singh discussed everything from the makeup on Euphoria to “childhood eyebrow struggles.”
The Mindy Project creator was also asked to give an update on what Michael Scott would be doing now, five years after The Office ended. “The thing that I always think about is things that Michael Scott — who just loved trends and was far too old to do any of them — what would he be into? And to me, seeing Michael Scott dab would be one of my favorites, ‘cause I feel like he would do it all the time. Can’t you picture him doing that?” she replied, to which I answer: yes. Kaling, who wrote for and starred on the still-popular sitcom, added, “And also Michael Scott on Instagram and the thirsty comments he would leave on celebrities’ pages. Those to me are what like come to mind.”
Who is the first person Michael Scott would follow on Instagram? My guess: F*ckJerry. He seems like a guy who loves a good stolen meme.
During an acclaimed season four, Seinfeld settled into its permanent home: Thursday nights. “ Seinfeld, which has not performed well this season opposite ABC’s Home Improvement on Wednesdays, will move to Thursdays at 9:30 pm,” the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time. “With the loss of The Cosby Show last season and Cheers next season, NBC hopes its well-regarded series will keep the network strong on Thursdays.”
It was a masterstroke of scheduling: after the switch, Seinfeld stayed in the top three of the most-watched shows on TV, after never landing in the top-20 for the first four seasons, and finished as *the* most-watched show during seasons six and nine. Seinfeld went out on top, literally, so it’s no wonder that in 2015, Hulu paid $130 million for the streaming rights to the sitcom Hulu, fittingly, also owns Home Improvement. But four years later, that’s a steal compared to what Netflix recently slapped on the counter:
Netflix has landed worldwide rights to the iconic sitcom [ Seinfeld] in a five-year deal with distributor Sony. The show will move from current rightsholder Hulu when its deal is up in 2021. Sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that the new Seinfeld streaming deal is worth more than $500 million and covers global rights.
It’s obvious why Netflix wanted Seinfeld: the streamer is losing Friends to HBO Max in 2020 and The Office to NBC’s streaming platform. Despite those series going off the air in 2004 and 2013, respectively, they’re two of the most popular selections on Netflix; according to Nielsen figures, Netflix users streamed 52 billion-plus minutes of The Office in 2018 and 32.6 billion minutes of Friends. That’s a lot of minutes that are about to go away and, potentially, a lot of subscribers. Can Seinfeld keep people from bolting to another of the 549 streaming services that are expected to launch in the next few years?
I wouldn’t be so sure. Simply put, in 2019, Seinfeld isn’t as popular as Friends or The Office. As CNBC’s Alex Sherman tweeted following the acquisition sic’d, “Hulu paid $130 million for Seinfeld back in 2015 – a six-year deal for U.S. rights. Source says Seinfeld accounted for less than one percent of Hulu’s viewing. The Office accounted for seven percent of Netflix and Friends four percent, according to third-party data.”
Netflix could land Seinfeld in part because Sony Pictures distributed the show, and Sony doesn't have its own streaming service - unlike NBC distributed The Office and WarnerMedia Friends. So Sony could sell to highest bidder without conflict.
— Alex Sherman @sherman4949 September 16, 2019
Friends, The Office, and Seinfeld are all NBC sitcoms, but the first two have more a lot in common than the third. They’re both, especially in the early seasons, love stories — Rachel and Ross and Jim and Pam belong among the most iconic relationships in TV history — and that makes for an easy hook to binge-viewers. Especially when they’re set in relatable locations, like a drab workplace or a coffee shop. Seinfeld takes place in a familiar setting, too, but the characters within Monk’s Café, Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, are, well, jerks. It’s the entire point of the show: “No hugging, no learning.”
At the end of a long day, or before work, or while folding laundry, sometimes you don’t want to watch a show about bad people — we’re surrounded by bad every minute of every day — you want the safe comedy about the chicken and the duck, or the show that, with the exception of Michael’s hatred of Toby, was rarely malicious in its humor. Unlike Seinfeld which is why it’s better than the other two, but I digress. It’s impossible to know for sure, but I imagine a majority of the 52 billion-plus minutes Netflix subscribers spent on The Office were of the passive variety, when the episodes aren’t really being watched so much as functioning as background noise. I’ve done it. Choosing a random episode of The Office to put on while getting dressed for a night out is easier than endlessly browsing Spotify for what you want to listen to or, shudder the thought, talking to another human. Who needs friends when you have Friends? Seinfeld doesn’t function the same way — it’s something unpredictable, whereas The Office and especially Friends follow a formula. It’s telling that the dark “The Dinner Party” is often singled out as the best episode of The Office — nearly every episode of Seinfeld is as dark as “The Dinner Party.” People like formulas. It’s why The Big Bang Theory, the most formulaic mega-popular sitcom in recent years, is a billion-dollar-plus empire. Seinfeld also demands your attention more than the average comedy, but, as Netflix should expect, it won’t get as much attention as The Office or Friends.
Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch “Beach Games” for the 12th time.