Is Steve Carell the Willie Mays of sitcoms?

March 11 What do such legendary TV sitcoms as MASH, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Seinfeld have in common? They all ceased production while the shows were still at their absolute creative best. The directors, writers and cast members all knew when to say when.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Steve Carell, who plays Michael Scott in NBC's legendary sitcom, The Office. Why? Because Carell & Co. have signed on for yet another season.

And, while it may make sense financially, it makes no sense from an image a reputation standpoint.

The Office peaked well before the Jim and Pam wedding episode. It's now devolved into a silly, smarmy love fest of nonsense that bears little resemblance to the show's original premise. In fact, it's become little more than a showcase for the individual characters to display their singing and dancing talents (or, lack thereof). In a word, The Office has gone from riveting to revolting.

Why do so many people in so many fields not know when to say when? To wit:

– For every Sandy Koufax (who quit at his absolute peak), there's a Willie Mays (who, at 40 something years of age, badly embarrassed himself in the 1973 World Series)
– For every Jerry Seinfeld there's a Lucille Ball (who continued making dreadful sitcoms long after 'I Love Lucy' had ended)
– For every Greta Garbo there's a Nicholas Cage (who continues to tarnish his once serious stature by starring in an endless string of B movies)
– For every Bill Gates (who now busies himself with his foundation) there's a septuagenarian such as Bob Lutz (who keeps re-appearing in some sort of GM managerial position despite his highly-publicized crankiness) 

I see it in my own business. I belong to a number of trade organizations populated by elder statesmen who are clearly past their prime. Yet these giants of yesteryear still feel compelled to weigh in on issues where they no longer have any direct or relevant experience. Why not go gently into the night?

I'd like to think I'll know when to say when. And, if I don't, I'm hoping a close friend will have the courage to point it out to me. That's what Steve Carell needs right now: a close friend with the guts to say, 'Steve. Bubala. It's time to let go and move on. You don't want to be remembered as the Willie Mays of TV sitcoms, do you?’

12 thoughts on “Is Steve Carell the Willie Mays of sitcoms?

  1. The show hit its inevitable lowpoint with the birth of Jim and Pam’s baby. That wasn’t a sitcom episode, it was more akin to soap opera material. But let’s be honest, the other 10% of the time they focus on characters like Andy, Kelly, Phyllis and Dwight the show is “gold Jerry, gold.” They need to stick with what works and if they find it absolutely vital to focus on Jim and Pam’s relationship, then produce a spin-off series.

  2. I thought long and hard about whether or not to add MASH to the list, Bomberpete. I realize it struggled near the end, but the finale remains an epic in the annals of TV sitcom history.

  3. I’m not much of an “Office” fan, but I think you’re wrong to include M*A*S*H as a show that went out on top. It had 7, 8 good years tops, but the last year or two was pitiful except for the finale.

  4. Beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder. I think the show has gone downhill faster than the economy.

  5. Thanks Lunch. Agree 100 percent that the Ricky Gervais U.K. Office totally rocked. I haven’t seen his cartoon. Thanks for the heads-up.

  6. I love the office, and have since it came out. Some episodes are better than others but i’m still excited every thursday night. a new season? ROARRR

  7. I still appreciate the fact that the jokes are unique, that the make you squirm at times by continuing to test boundaries…no matter how foolish. Of course, I loved the BBC version much more, and there we do have an example of someone going out on top (Ricky Gervais). Speaking of, have you seen his new cartoon on HBO? It’s worth a spin.

  8. Interesting, Lunch. I think the show has totally lost its way and have discussed the issue with others who feel the same. I guess that’s what makes the world go round.

  9. i dont know if i have ever heard of a diaper and syringe beaing mixed up, but i did hear about a salesman trying to sell a latex glove as a “5 time use condom”

  10. I’d agree that incontinence might be one obvious sign, MedGuy. Another might be people actually falling asleep during your presentation. In your industry, I suspect it would occur when a salesman mistakes an adult diaper with a syringe. Ouch.

  11. I like “The Office.” I think it is a fantastic show and still much better than most sitcoms …although “Modern Family” is great. As for Nick Cage, he lost millions to shady financial advisor…that’s why he will do anything that comes his way.

  12. rep- how does one know when they are at that point where it becomes “time”. i propose that its time to hang up the blackberry and mandals when incontinence sets in and diapers are needed at the office..