It was an uneven year for “The Office,” as NBC’s workhorse sitcom endured the always perilous special wedding episode and special baby episode, two event character turns that always threaten to ruin any long-running series. Also, Steve Carell hinted that the next year of the show could very well be his last, which would almost certainly bode poorly for the fate of the show itself.
However, the show still has plenty going for it. Rainn Wilson continues to do a brilliant job as Dwight Schrute, and Kathy Bates’ guest spots as Jo, the Sabre CEO, have been solid. And now comes word that Zach Woods, who plays Sabre corporate toadie Gabe, has officially become a series regular. From Michael Ausiello and Andy Patrick at Entertainment Weekly:
Sources confirm to me exclusively that the NBC hitcom has just promoted Zach Woods — a.k.a. Sabre VIP (Very Insecure Person) Gabe — to series regular for season 7.
Woods was a presence on the show all throughout last season, getting the occasional awkward moment. He really shined as a straight man to Bates, essentially playing her Smithers. His promotion to the regular cast means Woods will likely have his character become more integrated with the rest of the regulars, and not just as a bit player to a printer fire at the end of the year.
Woods’ promotion is a lesson in how best to bring new characters into a show without having people jump up and scream OMG! JUMP THE SHARK! JUMP THE SHARK! It’s always best to give new characters a test run, to spend a season with them coming in occasionally, before figuring out if there’s enough to the character to make them work as a regular.
And Woods works on this show. In fact, he could help take time away from some of the bit players who have become tiresome (Kevin), or even big players like Michael Scott, who grows dumber and more unrealistic by the season. Should Carell decide to go through with leaving at the end of the year, and producers still want the show to continue, Woods could end up quite central to the show. Hopefully, the show will be running a bit smoother when that happens.