This Thursday, Sept. 20, the British-originated, American-adapted comedy hit The Office will begin it’s ninth and final season. And series developer Greg Daniels promises a return to basics.

During an interview with Variety, Daniels said “I’ll tell you the last couple of years, I don’t think we did any big arc-type things in the way that we used to in the beginning, I think the thing we’re going to do is bring back a lot of arcs.” Daniels has also promised to final answer some questions that have been swirling around, including who is filming the documentary, why they are filming it, and the true identity of the Scranton Strangler.

The season has a lot of work to do if it truly wants to go out with a bang. The show has received much criticism since the departure of star Steve Carrell towards the end of season seven. And season eight received some of the lowest ratings in the series’ history, with episode 22, “Fundraiser,” receiving the lowest rating in Office history, only garnering 4.17 million viewers.

The ninth season will also see some interesting changes in the cast. Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak, who portray Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard, respectively, will only have recurring roles during the season. Ed Helms and John Krasinski will also appear in fewer episodes as Andy  Bernard and Jim Halpert, respectively, as both have upcoming movie deals. Rainn Wilson will only be returning for thirteen episodes as Dwight K. Schrute before leaving for a Dwight-centric spinoff, tentatively titled Schrute Farms, focusing on his characters beet farm.

What may be more interesting are the characters that will be added to the cast. Catherine Tate will be reprising her role as Nellie Bertram, a character who weaseled her way into a job a Dunder Mifflin during season eight and was heavily criticized by critics. And David Denman will return as Roy Anderson, a former warehouse employee at Dunder Mifflin as well as Pam’s ex-fiance. Two customer service representatives are also expected to join the cast.

The season will consist of 22 episodes, one of which is to be directed by Bryan Cranston, of Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad fame, and will air on NBC on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m..

By Mark Rontondo

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