The 2020 TV comeback that wasn’t: 'The Office'
While the U.S. version of “The Office” stopped airing new episodes on NBC in 2013, fans who missed the characters have had plenty of ways to revisit Dunder Mifflin by watching commercials this year featuring actors from the show.
Among the highlights:
Steve Carell (Michael Scott) played a work-from-home Santa in a spot for Comcast Xfinity that ran during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. “After the year we’ve just had, the usual gifts are just not going to cut it," his character tells the elves. "So, we have to find something else, and fast! That’s all. Figure it out. Good luck!”
Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) portrayed the CEO of Sliced Bread Inc. in Little Caesars’ first-ever Super Bowl spot.
Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance) appeared in January as a Panera Bread social media coordinator fielding complaints about the chain dropping Bistro French Onion soup from its menu.
Then, she, like plenty of office workers, began to work from home. In November, Smith re-emerged in “Working from Home with Phyllis,” a series of webisodes and a TV spot for retailer Joann showcasing the character’s crafting skills, which she honed during work meetings by replacing herself with a cutout sitting at her desk.
John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) was one of the famous Boston stars in Hyundai’s star-studded “Smaht Pahk” Super Bowl spot. Then, he launched “Some Good News,” his feel-good online show, perfect for pandemic at-home viewing, which he soon sold to ViacomCBS. In April, Krasinski voiced the Boston Globe’s ad about his hometown city’s resilience, from MullenLowe. (His Esurance gig was taken over in 2018 by Dennis Quaid.)
Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson) conversing with Buzz, the Honey Nut Cheerios’ bee mascot, may remind fans of “The Office” of Stanley's interactions with colleagues. Baker starred in multiple ads for the General Mills cereal this year, and while not appearing as Stanley, the character has a similar feel.
Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) promoted Bush’s Beans—yes, he made chili. Later in the year, he appeared in a campaign for Main Event, promoting at-home events including team-building parties, and in ads for sandwich chain Schlotzsky’s, promoting a work-from-home lunch upgrade, including a chance to (virtually) dine with the actor.
Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) did double work, appearing as herself in Advil ads in which one version of her is doing activities such as contemplating a cannonball into a pool, jumping on a trampoline, or yoga, and the other version is advising her to take some Advil Dual Action. She also got a “That’s What She Shed” from Tuff Shed.
Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) sometimes posts about bread on Instagram. This year, those posts included her own ads for King’s Hawaiian.
After bingeing the show (again), maybe it was time to see the actors do something different. There was plenty of that on Netflix, including the Carell-starring series “Space Force”; Oscar Nunez (Oscar Martinez) in "Social Distance"; a series co-created by Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor), “Never Have I Ever”; and Ed Helms (Andy Bernard) in "Coffee & Kareem" and also a sketch for "Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun."
Another way to reminisce? Listening to podcasts. There’s “Office Ladies,” on which Fischer and Kinsey revisit each episode of the show. It debuted in 2019, but it’s still going strong in 2020, so it counts. And Baumgartner hosts “An Oral History of The Office.”