By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist July 3, 2012 at 5:25PM
Is there any show that is more shambled, barely wheezing and in a shell of its former self than "The Office"? After Steve Carell exited the show (which was already wobbling in its last season with him), it seems the writers and showrunners had no idea what to do, flailing about as the comedy got much more broad, and the focus shifted away from the absurd mundane workaday life at Dunder Mifflin, into the corporate shenanigans at Sabre -- and all this while trying to establish Rainn Wilson as the show's next breakout star (plans to spin off Dwight Schrute into his own show, "The Farm," seem ill-advised at best). Anyway, long story short, they need some new life and they are pinning the hopes on some young talent.
TV Line reports that Clark Duke ("Greek," "Hot Tub Time Machine") will be joining the cast as a season regular, which nicely dovetails with the news that B.J. Novak -- as office pariah turned insufferable hipster Ryan Howard -- will be exiting. This all comes in the wake of other departures from the show including Mindy Kaling (who will now lead her own comedy at Fox) and long-standing showrunner Paul Lieberstein. No word yet on Duke's role other than he'll be working at Dunder Mifflin, but here's hoping he can bring back at least a hint of the show's glory years in the ninth (and probably last) season.
Meanwhile over at ABC, Mark Pellington ("I Melt With You," "Henry Poole Is Here") is set to direct the pilot "Red Widow." Based on the popular Dutch series "Penoza," and written by Melissa Rosenberg ("Dexter," "Twilight"), the show takes audiences deep inside the world of Bay Area organized crime, showing just how far a recently widowed woman (Radha Mitchell) will go to protect her family. A dedicated mother and mob wife discovers a tenacity she never knew she had when she takes on gangsters and the FBI to unveil the truth about her husband's murder. As she digs into a dark underworld, testing her own strength, she relies on her resourcefulness and family ties like never before.
Sounds promising we suppose, thought it'll be interesting to see how far they go given the limits of network TV and Pellington isn't exactly our favorite director in the world. Watch the trailer for ABC's show below (which will air in 2013) followed by a spot for the original Dutch program and see how it stacks up.