‘The Office’ Goes to ‘The Farm’: Could a Schrute Spin-Off Have Worked?

Rainn Wilson in 'The Office' Spin-off Pilot that never was, 'The Farm'

Life after The Office: for some people, the thought illicits sadness and terror: how can one let go of the kooky antics of Jim, Pam, Dwight, and the rest of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company crew now that the series’ finale is mere weeks away? For one of Scranton’s finest, Dwight Schrute (aka Rainn Wilson), there was hope for a future in a spin-off series dubbed The Farm: a look at life through the truly bizarre eyes of clan Schrute. Unfortunately for our kooky beet farmers-to-be, NBC put the kibosh on the spin-off months ago, but still managed to fold much of the already-shot pilot into an episode of The Office. So what’s the verdict? Well, let’s just say, it’s no wonder they put The Farm show out to pasture.

RELATED: ‘The Office’ Spin-Off ‘The Farm’ is No More

The whole thing felt like a weird take on country-living that at times felt more belittling than anything else. The show focused primarily on ne’er-do-well brother Jeb is a marijuana farmer in California (thanks to what we can only imagine would’ve been a bunch of ~wacky and zany~ misunderstandings), Dwight himself, and his sister Fannie, a single mother living in the “big city” (Boston). There were crow beaks thrown and smashed (a sign of desired courtship), a clueless urbanite little boy desperate for a father figure, a whole bunch of cousins, angry chickens, a goat mistaken for a cow, and a dead person getting a 21 gun salute…to the chest. 

You see, Dwight’s beloved Aunt Shirley has died, and a funeral took place on the farm to plant and/or bury said lady into the ground (where she will not grow because the soil is terrible). Only problem is? What to do with the farm, of course! In Shirley’s video will, she explained it plainly: whoever moves home to the farm and takes care of it gets to keep it. The perfect set-up for Dwight’s departure from The Office, no doubt. A cavalcade of kooks, plucked out of their element, forced to work together? Sounds like the perfect set-up for a series. Only, the jokes were stale — perhaps afraid of being too offensive to country folk, but still wanting to play in that Schrute-y weirdness Office fans have come to know so intimately. The most successful bit of this came in the shooting of already-dead Shirley to ensure she was “completely dead” (apparently a series of locals were accidentally buried alive, surprising grave robbers and the — I guess? — deep sleepers alike). But even that one amusing bit couldn’t save the rest.

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Even during some of the worst episodes of The Office, a chuckle or two has often been elicited, but throughout the duration of The Farm, I was just waiting for the episode to end. Not all Office spin-offs can blossom into Parks & Recreation (heck, P&R didn’t become great until the middle of season two. And yes, the show did start off as a spin-off of The Office, even if it didn’t end up that way), but the forced nature of it all was painfully obvious. It’s as if NBC was hoping to cash in on nostalgia for a show that hasn’t even left yet. Dwight’s opinion on the matter felt like a commentary direct from the execs themselves: “nostalgia is one of the great human weaknesses,” something worth exploiting for personal gain (in his case, getting the family to agree to stay on the farm and take care of it together). And perhaps its that very nostalgia for the good ole days that NBC hoped would carry the show forward — a comical thought given The Office isn’t even six feet under yet. Perhaps the biggest issue is this: the Dwight character worked because his weirdness was balanced out by Jim’s straight man. On a farm left to thrive in his own curio, well, that’s just too much Schrute.

What did you think of The Farm? Sound off in the comments!

Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes

[Photo Credit:Tyler Golden/NBC]

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