January 16, 2013 7:34pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'The Office' EP Talks 'Changing' Endgame, Returning Cast and the Long Goodbye
NBC opened the doors to Dunder Mifflin for one of the last times Wednesday afternoon, with the cast and showrunner of The Office discussing the upcoming series finale on the comedy's Van Nuys set.
"If you look at all the characters [we have] and that it will be our 200th half-hour when we do our finale, I don't think we're planning on packing everything into the last episode," executive producer Greg Daniels told reporters. "If you are waiting until the end of The Office to tune in, I would start doing it right away."
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Daniels, who noted that the 24-episode season has been written through only 18, said that the 12th episode (Jan. 24) is when the conclusion starts to play out.
"[It's] the beginning of the end when we start to see what's going on with this documentary -- you'll see behind the scenes and who's involved," he said of the unseen characters who've been filming the entire series.
A few episodes later, the seemingly inevitable Dunder Mifflin exodus heats up when one of the staffers gets the ax. "Someone is fired," Daniels teased. "There’s drama, and someone has to pay for it.”
As for the actual end, that's still evolving. The general idea for the final episode, which Daniels has had since the earlier seasons, is something that's "changing."
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"It's a very collaborative process," he added. "Every time we have a table read, someone has a better idea than we had in the script. We have a goal that we're aiming for, but how we get there is changing."
One thing that hasn't changed is the chance of Steve Carell reprising the role of Michael Scott. Echoing NBC entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt's recent comments, Daniels does not want fans to count on a Carell cameo.
"Steve is very much of the opinion that the 'Goodbye, Michael' episode and the story arc we did leading up to it was his goodbye to fans and the show," said Daniels. "This season is the goodbye the rest of the show gets to have. At the moment, we don't have any plans for him to come back."
There will be several familiar faces, though. Daniels confirmed that Zach Woods (Gabe), B.J. Novak (Ryan) and Mindy Kaling (Kelly) will all be back. And they're trying to court the latter two for more than just the official send-off, if Kaling's commitment to her new series can accommodate it.