'The Office' Is Now The Center Of Its Own Universe

How many TV shows should there be under the umbrella of a brand-name title before the brand-name qualifies as a “universe?”

The TV Blog hereby suggests that the minimum be set at three TV shows, as opposed to two. It’s like the unwritten and at times breakable “rule” for journalists that so-called trend stories must have at least three examples of the subject matter to qualify as a “trend,” not two examples.

But the TV Blog got a kick out of a news release from NBCU on Wednesday announcing a new comedy series earmarked for Peacock and described as “set in the same universe” as “The Office.”

The press release did not clearly define this “universe,” however, except to indicate that the as-yet untitled show would be made in the same mockumentary style as “The Office.”



As everybody knows, “The Office” took place in a regional office of a fictional paper company called Dunder Mifflin. The show was set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but filmed almost entirely in California.

The press release indicates that the new show will be set not in Scranton, but somewhere in the Midwest.

“The documentary crew that immortalized Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch is in search of a new subject when they discover a dying historic Midwestern newspaper and the publisher trying to revive it with volunteer reporters,” said the press release.

The release did not say whether one or more characters from the Dunder Mifflin Scranton office would somehow turn up at this midwestern newspaper, which would link the show to “The Office” and thereby help it qualify as part of this newly declared “Office” universe.

Perhaps the idea of an “Office” universe lies in the new show’s style. Maybe it will feel like “The Office,” but set in a newsroom.

Maybe “universe” refers to a universe of producers who worked on “The Office” and will work on this new one.

They include Greg Daniels, who adapted the American “Office” from the English one and ran the American show for five seasons; Ben Silverman; Howard Klein; and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of the English “Office.”

Daniel is co-creator of the new newspaper sitcom with Michael Koman, who did not work on “The Office,” but married one of the show’s stars, Ellie Kemper, in 2012.

The American “Office” served as a launchpad to stardom for Kemper and others on the show such as Steve Carell, Jon Kasinski, Ed Helms and Mindy Kaling.

Linking the new show to “The Office” by declaring the existence of an “Office” universe takes advantage of the enduring popularity of the NBC sitcom, which aired for nine seasons, 2005-13, on NBC.

By most accounts, the show’s audience has grown since it ended on NBC, first in syndication and then streaming, where it seems poised to live forever.

But a universe? Marvel, DC, “Star Wars,” “NCIS,” Law & Order” and a handful of other brands are undeniably universes.

As for this new “Office”-universe comedy -- the TV Blog’s suggested title: “The Newspaper” -- it will be produced by Universal Television.

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