Grading Candidates for 'Office' Manager

James Spader will be a regular next season, but won't be Michael Scott's replacement

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Personally, we think Creed Bratton is doing a fine job as interim Office manager. But today we got another reminder of his temporary reign: After a cameo last season, James Spader will be returning to the NBC sitcom as the replacement for Kathy Bates' no-nonsense CEO. Entertainment Weekly's sources report:

If all goes according to plan, Spader's character — named "Robert California" — will be introduced in the premiere as the new Office manager. He quickly decides the role is too small for him, and somehow talks corporate into appointing him as its new CEO.

The development, if you noticed, still leaves Michael Scott's irreplaceable position very much available. Now that we can cross Spader off the list of potential Mifflin-managers (that is, if there actually is a true replacement in the works for a new manager to be the show's anchor), here's what the list of contenders looks like:

Ed Helms (mock resume):

Pros: Another Hangover film bolstered his career, but we agree with Vulture's Star Market appraisal: "He'll get bigger, but not much bigger." Meaning: Helms might just be big enough to anchor the show, but small enough not to leave it anytime soon.

Cons: The show's writers will have to allow his character, Andy, to evolve to a more level-headed state. Last we checked, Andy circulated through only two emotions: uncontrollable anger or painful bashfulness.

Rainn Wilson (mock resume):

Pros: With Steve Carell gone, every time Dwight delivers his curmudgeonly schtick it takes us back to those golden seasons well before the celebrity guest appearances.

Cons: He may be worthy, but it seems like Office producers want a fresh face to be boss. Besides, we've seen Dwight scheming to become manager for years now.

Craig Robinson (mock resume):

Pros: Like Helms, Robinson fits in the "big but not too big" movie star category of Office actors and he's got the comedic chops and gravitas to fill Steve Carell's space.

Cons: He seems like he has a better shot than Andy or Dwight at getting the nod. But his character's likability might hurt his chances if producers want to go with a confrontational manager.

Outside Candidates:

Jim Carrey:

Pros: It's hard to judge him since he only one, brief, incomprehensible "finger lake" line on air, but we think the show could use a little injection of his '90s era physical humor.

Cons: The injection of that '90s-era physical humor could either be brilliant or plain awful.

Catherine Tate:

Pros: We can't say it any better than the New York Post: She's "a brilliant combination of David Brent's shockingly un-PC ideas and Michael Scott's limitless enthusiasm," who also managed to deliver most of the better lines as a candidate in the season finale.

Cons: Although he probably wasn't talking about her, Ricky Gervais wasn't a fan of the season finale, writing on his blog that "If you' re going to jump a shark, jump a big one." But that could just be Gervais talking.

Will Arnett:

Pros: Ricky Gervais loves him, he turned in a typically excellent cameo in the finale, and could fill the void of second-to-command office flack that Gabe left behind.

Cons: We can't see any, although EW's now quite-old rumor that he would appear as the Scranton Strangler might be an interesting story arc.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.