Spin-offs are a confusing breed of television: They nearly always flop, but they still keep happening. We've been burned before (read: Joey), so we were understandably filled with dread when we heard that the team behind Emmy-winning show The Office was planning a spin-off focused on Dwight. Then they canceled it, and we all let out a sigh of relief.
But last night's episode, one of the last episodes of The Office's finale season, was actually a pilot in disguise. NBC still has no plans to air the show, but they shuffled the first episode of The Farm, as it was called, in the back door — and, in spite of ourselves, we loved it. Maybe it's because "Sons & Daughters" is just one of the greatest, most hopeful songs ever. Maybe it's because there were a lot of pretty blonde girls in country outfits and nice braids. But we think it goes deeper than that.
And that's all because of one thing: Dwight Schrute is no Joey Tribbiani. He's actually one of the few characters who has remained interesting and likable throughout the show's nearly decade-long run, while even Jim's reputation went down the tubes with a lot of viewers. Rainn Wilson is an amazing actor and a really cool guy (check out his web series Soul Pancake) who managed to play an apparently one-sided stock character with real depth of emotion. From the tear-jerking period after Dwight and Angela broke up to the moments of unbridled hilarity that pepper every episode, Dwight has been an underdog who sneakily usurped the title of our favorite character, even if he wasn't supposed to. Plus, he's one of the few characters who hasn't been made over into some glossy, TV-ready version of the original Season 1 iteration. Remember when Pam had frizzy hair? No? Exactly.
We seriously would have watched this spin-off. Maybe we're just too sad to let go of the Thursday night tradition, and that grief is clouding our judgment, but something about the pilot episode last night (catch it now on Hulu if you missed it) felt different and refreshing in a really good way. Those of us who've been watching since the beginning are sick of watching the writers try to squeeze every last inch of drama out of Jim, Pam, Andy, and Erin — Dwight, on the other hand, remains a joy for all, despite his relatively mundane, oddball lifestyle. But what do you think? Should NBC reconsider?
Photo: Matt Baron/BEI Images.