Mar 11

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?’