The Office Season Finale Gets Star-Studded

"The Office" won't return with a new episode until next Thursday, but the rest of the season is already lining up to be pretty exciting, as the employees of Dunder Mifflin prepare to bid goodbye to their boss, Michael Scott, and look for a new one by season's end.

Two weeks ago, we found out that Michael would be leaving the office to marry Holly and move to Colorado so they could be with her ailing parents. It was one of the best episodes in a long time, as Michael enlisted the help of his subordinates to come up with the perfect proposal for his girlfriend. By the end of the episode, the two were engaged, the office had been drenched in sprinkler water, thanks to the large amount of candles that had been lit for the affair, and Michael had dropped the bomb on his coworkers. The episode was directed by Steve Carell, and despite the distractions of a "garage sale" by the others in the office, it really had a special feel to it.

On April 14th, The Office will return for a six episode run to the season seven finale, and all the episodes will likely have a similar feel to them as well. In an almost surreal turn of events, Michael Scott will leave the office in three episodes, leaving Dunder Mifflin "boss-less" for the first time since we welcomes them into our homes nearly a decade ago.

But not for long.

We already know that Will Ferrel will finally reconnect with his Anchorman co-star, joining the cast for a four-episode arc, starting next week with the episode "Training Day", where he will play Deangelo Vickers, Michael Scott's replacement. The workers look to make a good first impression with their new boss. The next two episodes will be dedicated to Carell's impending departure, but by episode 23 of the season, the entire staff will be looking to get Farell's character fired from the office, who proves to be just as incompetent as Michael.

No one knows how exactly Carell's departure will play out, despite certain fake scripts that have been "leaked" where Jim gets his arms cut off and Michael goes to jail, but we can certainly guarantee that it will be grandiose. Nor do we know how exactly Farrel's character will alienate the office, but there's no denying that Farrel's comedic style will fit right into The Office, and we're in for some memorable moments over the next four weeks.

But that leaves two weeks (including an hour long season finale) where there will be no boss. The producers have taken steps to make sure that we'll keep guessing to the very end, and the list of guest stars that will likely vie for Michael's job, along with several of the regulars.

Executive producer Greg Daniels has already confirmed that Andy, Dwight and Darryl will be the lead internal candidates for the job, with Kelly possibly inserting herself into the running in some fashion (Mindy Kaling's contract with the show expires this season, and rumor has it she won't return, so this might be an interesting way to write her off). Missing from the list is Jim, who briefly held the job of co-manager last season, so it will be interesting to see how his character reacts to this. Even Dave Koechner's Todd Packer is said to be in the mix.

Add to this list five new actors to join the fray in recent weeks. Ricky Gervais, a credited producer of the show and the creator of the original UK version of The Office, will return to reprise the legendary character of David Brent. We were already teased on a David Brent involvement in a cameo earlier in the season, and it looks like Gervais will be involved in the season finally. He even co-wrote the episode. Certainly based on his track record with both versions of the show, Gervais would be the "dream" candidate to replace Carell, but it may be a pipe dream for the busy comedian.

We also know that Will Arnett of, of course, Arrested Development fame, will also guest star on the season finale. He is also unlikely to take on the job next season, as he has just booked an NBC pilot, but considering his involvement in other NBC comedies (30 Rock), the door would likely be open for a return in the future.

Today, we learned that three other well known actors will be vying for the job, as < href=http://www.tvline.com/2011/04/the-office-exclusive-ray-romano-james-spader-catherine-tate/>TVLine has reported that Ray Romano, Catherine Tate and James Spader will also be guest starring in the finale. Romano, of course, is best known for Everybody Loves Raymond, and would make a different addition to the show, but his commitments to "Men of a Certain Age" on TNT will likely bar him from a full time gig. Catherine Tate (Doctor Who) and James Spader (Boston Legal) are more likely candidates and would also offer unique additions to the show, versus Farrel, Gervais, or Arnett, who would likely play roles similar to the character of Michael Scott.

Either way, all five actors would be tremendous additions to the show, and Greg Daniels has promised new cast members for season 8, and that who ever takes the role won't be the focus of the show, like Carell was, leaving room for characters like Dwight, Andy, Darryl, even Kevin, Oscar and others to step up with their own plots and arcs next year.

Needless to say, the departure of Steve Carell could very likely end in a hard fall for one of NBC's longest running active shows, and it's very possible that next year's 8th season will be the show's last. But any of the abovementioned names could breathe a new life into the series. Shows in the American TV Industry constantly have to adapt to changes, to the reactions of the fans, and it seems as if NBC and the producers of the show are determined to make the show better in Carell's departure. There's no denying that The Office hasn't been exactly fresh in the last few years, and like any show its format has begun to become a little tiresome. But with a new boss, and a new spotlight on the show's unsung heroes, the show could very well refocus and become exciting yet again.

But only time will tell. Still, the next six weeks will be the closest thing to "must-see TV" that NBC has had since Seinfeld's run ended over ten years ago. We'll be watching. Will you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!