It’s the beginning of the end of an era at NBC. We’ve known for months now that this season of 30 Rock will be that venerable sitcom’s last. Yesterday, showrunner Greg Daniels announced that The Office will wrap up this season as well. Community‘s changed showrunner hands as well, after the firing of Dan Harmon, and it’s hard to know if that shift will produce a show that will earn a fifth season. Parks and Recreation may be the last show on the network’s Thursday night comedy with a serious chance of continuing beyond the spring of 2013.
But while it will be difficult to say goodbye to all of these sitcoms, which have significantly defined my adult television watching, with departure comes opportunity. There’s an enormous amount of talent tied up in these comparatively low-rated shows, and I’m excited to see what everyone involved with them is going to do next. Some of them, like The Office’s Steve Carrell and Mindy Kaling have already departed for movie careers or new projects. Here are seven ideas for what other people who have given us so much fun on Thursday nights could do once their shows end.
1. Mike Schur should make a show about a television news station: The Parks and Recreation creator, who just signed a new deal with Universal Television, ran the Weekend Update segment during his stint on Saturday Night Live. On Parks and Rec, local talk show host Joan Callamezzo and anchor Perd Hapley are among the funniest supporting characters anywhere on television. TV needs a fantastic, cutting satire of news that isn’t created by Aaron Sorkin. Schur’s the guy to give it to us.
2. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey should play best friends who are mothers to young children: Poehler already gave cinematic birth to Fay’s daughter in Baby Mama. They’re hilarious whenever they’re in the same frame together. And given that television is obsessed with the novel idea of men raising their own young right now, in shows from ABC Family’s Baby Daddy to NBC’s upcoming shows The New Normal and Guys With Kids. Maybe now that we’ve gotten used to the idea that men have to give up things to raise children and that those adjustments take time, American audiences are ready to be sympathetic to mothers, who have always been in that position.
3. Put Aisha Muharrar, Megan Ganz, Katie Dippold, Kay Cannon, and Annie Mebane in a room and produce whatever they come up with: I’m not sure NBC gets enough credit for this, but its Thursday night comedies employ a mind-blowing number of smart young female writers. I would watch anything any of these women, or any combination of these women, put together in a heartbeat.
4. Keith Powell and Alison Brie should have an arc on a show where they date: If I have one complaint about 30 Rock over the years, it’s been the waste of the show’s incredibly strong supporting cast. As Toofer, Powell’s been very funny as the fussy, high class Harvard graduate who’s sometimes driven nuts by his fellow writers. I’d love to see him play off Brie, who’s been perfect as the precise Annie Edison over three years on Community, and deserves a chance to play the kind of sexy adult she plays on AMC and in movies on a broadcast show. Maybe in a program where Alec Baldwin plays Brie’s boss. If I can’t get that, I’ll take a spinoff web series about Grizz and Dot Comm in compensation.
5. Develop a show around Retta as a stand-up comedian: Her performance as Donna has been incredible on Parks and Rec, and while cable networks are falling all over themselves to give show deals to white male comedians, Retta seems like she could crush it on network. Showbiz shows haven’t worked particularly well on NBC of late—Up All Night is cutting its talk show to focus more on the characters at home. But whether Retta did something about doing stand-up, or based in her routines, I’d love to see her sidle in from the corner of the frame to claim center stage.
6. Craig Robinson. Judah Friedlander. Road trip: Two big guys, one good at projecting surprising empathy and precision, the other with a particular talent for reveling in mess, perversion, relationships with Susan Sarandon, and dressing up in women’s clothes and teaching self-defense lessons. I may not have been lured by The Hangover or other buddies-behaving-badly movies, but these guys would get me in the seats.
7. Adam Scott, Danny Pudi, Ellie Kemper as neighbors, and possibly roommates: Ben deserves a break from April and Andy. Have Scott, Kemper, and Pudi occupy the three apartments around the end of the hall. Put Kemper in the middle one and you’ve got the physical and actorly set up for a very nerdy, adorably enthusiastic love triangle.