Why didn't this happen?
ON SPEC is a column at Finickal created by Terry Erickson and Chris D'alessandro, where we take a popular franchise and, as writers, outlandishly speculate where it could head (but totally won't). Sometimes that means a left field story, other times it means a crossover, and sometimes it means both. We're just trying to have fun here.
Growing up, Seinfeld was the biggest thing on television, period. I was told time after time that I wouldn't see a show like it again. And, I mean, everybody was right -- but there would be another cultural zeitgeist years later nobody saw coming in Ricky Gervais' mockumentary series.
And the thing is, when the inevitable American remake of The Office was announced with Steve Carell and a bunch of no name actors and actresses, everybody scoffed. Even with Ricky Gervais' blessing and reassurance that the American version had a tale worth telling, nobody was having it.
And yet, when the second season hit (and nobody was watching), we witnessed magic happen. Jim, Pam, Dwight, and Michael were immediate landmark sitcom characters. The "talking head" segments were refreshing to our mainstream sensibilities, and by the time we reached the fateful "Casino Night" episode, NBC had achieved another asteroid sized, pop cultural mega hit.
The show lasted nine seasons, and while people (and cast members) dropped the show along the way, it remained consistently hilarious. If you ever meet me in person, do not get me started on "Dinner Party" or "Scott's Tots", or you'll likely be held hostage with conversation until sundown. There are arguments to this day on which season is the best (it's three, for the record), and where it started to lose steam (it's seven); much like debates you'd find in Simpsons and Seinfeld forums.
At the tail end of The Office's fifth season, Mike Schur, writer and producer, went on to create and show run Parks and Recreation. Originally conceived as a spin off, Parks quickly grew into its own behemoth during preproduction, and the ties to The Office were effectively severed.
Led by Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation was a similarly filmed workplace comedy -- down to the talking heads. Much like The Office in it's inception, it was similarly expected to start terribly. But, also like The Office, its second season proved to be must watch television, making a perfect companion to its sister show on Thursday nights. Soon enough, Ron Swanson, Leslie Knope, Andy Dwyer, and Tom Haverford became household names, too. All while being a completely different series.
There was no reason that these shows didn't exist in the same world (with the exception that Rashida Jones appears in both series and portrays different characters, but whatever); what stopped the showrunners (who shared the same shows!) from just leaning in and crossing these folks over? It couldn't be worse than either show's worst half hours.
So, Finickal has decided to bring you the two part crossover extravaganza five years too late!
IF WE DID IT, WHERE WOULD WE PLACE IT?
Michael Scott left The Office after the seventh season, and we can't have that in our crossover; Michael needs to meet Leslie. The seventh season of the show means Parks and Recreation just gotten into it's third after the Christmas break. That means Chris Traeger and Ben Wyatt (Rob Lowe and Adam Scott) have firmly been established on the show, so they also get to be in our toy box.
Dunder Mifflin Sabre's paper selling would be at an all time high since David Wallace left the company, and the local government of Pawnee, Indiana would still be struggling to recover after auditors slashed their budget. There couldn't be a better spot to bridge these worlds.
In order to serve both of the full casts, it would have to be two episodes, one taking place in Pawnee and the other back in Scranton.
Dunder Mifflin Sabre is making tons of money through paper and printer sales, but the Scranton branch stands alone as the highest seller by a country mile, thanks to the work of Michael Scott and his sales team.
Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates), their eccentric, outside-the-box thinking boss, is making plans to expand. Specifically out west. And she's got her eye in a perfect little town in Indiana to do it.
Jo makes an offer on a space in Pawnee -- and it's none other than Lot 48. This doesn't really work for Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Leslie Knope, who works overtime to block this transaction from happening.
Thus, the battle begins.
PART ONE: A Trip To Pawnee
Jo decides to send Michael and his best sales team over to Pawnee, all expenses paid, in an effort to "grease the wheels" in the closing of the purchase. Michael selects Jim, Dwight, Andy, and Pam.
When they arrive at the Parks office in city hall, they're greeted to a SURPRISE BREAKFAST PARTY thrown by Leslie, Tom, Ron, April, Andy, Ben, and Donna.
Everyone has an okay time; Jim and Andy Dwyer hit it off majorly over sports, this worries April; Leslie decides Michael is easily manipulated; Dwight does recon on the department, determining that Ron Swanson is the alpha he has to take down in order for this sale to happen. And just like that, we have our A, B, and C stories.
PART ONE'S A, B, AND C PLOTS:
A. LESLIE, BEN, PAM, AND MICHAEL: Leslie takes Michael on a "tour of Pawnee" and their wonderful town. They start at JJ's Diner, and despite having already ate breakfast, Leslie orders waffles. But after Michael wrongly quips that he could do her job, Leslie takes Michael to a town hall meeting, and has Michael field questions. Weirdly, his horrifyingly dumb answers seem to satisfy the crowds. Leslie is perplexed, but Michael sees how hard her job is. Pam and Ben suggest they work together to convince Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) to not tear down a playground. They're successful. Pam meets Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and has strange deja vu.
B. DWIGHT AND RON: Dwight goes on a harrowing odyssey in becoming Ron Swanson's friend. And, no joke, he succeeds. Dwight's do-it-yourself attitude is pleasing to Ron's sensibilities, and Dwight worries he's losing focus on his mission. It's literally the plot of Point Break. It ends with Ron taking Dwight on a canoe trip at the lake by his cabin. As his inner conflict reaches a crescendo, Dwight ugly cries in the boat.
C. JIM, ANDY, ANDY, AND TOM: While Jim and Andy Dwyer bond over sports and Madden for the Xbox 360, April worries that her husband doesn't have enough friends. Tom Haverford is perplexed by Andy Bernard's fashion sense and tries to appropriate it -- it's not working. The stinger for this episode would feature Andy dressing like Tom on his way back to Scranton -- with equally awful results.
So, the episode ends, and they're still at a standstill re: Lot 48. The Scranton team heads home -- and Leslie resolves to take the fight to them.
PART TWO: A Trip To Scranton
Leslie makes her trip to Scranton, and Ben, Andy and Ron follow to make sure she doesn't ruin her career.
PART TWO'S A, B, AND C PLOTS:
A. LESLIE, MICHAEL, AND JO: Leslie goes on a sales tour with Michael, who implores her that the work they do is good and helps people. After a series of sales that convince Leslie that Michael may be right, Jo scraps the purchase anyway because Gabe crashed his car into her house.
B: BEN, KEVIN, AND THE REST OF THE OFFICE: Ben devotes his entire day to making sure Kevin learns numbers, with Oscar's help. After a series of escalating attempts that culminate in Ben making an entire board game, Ben learns that Kevin can add perfectly when he orders food.
C. ANDY, ANDY, AND DARRYL: Andy Bernard and Darryl play music in the warehouse, and Andy Dwyer joins to jam. They engage in an open mic challenge, and try to hit as many as they can in one day. It becomes very much a VH1 Behind The Music scenario, with drama and tension escalating until they violently break up, before they casually say goodbye and add they had a good time by the end of the episode.
What do you guys think? Could a crossover like this have worked?
Terry Erickson is a screenwriter, lifelong film fan, and all around good guy based in Baltimore, MD. He's driven across America twice, is obsessed with Back To The Future, and loves almost everybody.