With no less than 145 nominations and 29 awards, NBC’s adaption of The Office was a critical darling. The show has 8.8 out of 10 on IMDB and 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes so fans clearly loved it too. Considering all that, perhaps its unsurprising that NBC are rumoured working on a new season of The Office for their 2018-2019 season.

While NBC have refused to comment on the story themselves, a trusted source is said to have told TVLine:

“The revival would once again be set at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton, PA., branch, and feature a mix of new and old cast members. Steve Carell, who starred as the branch’s regional manager, Michael Scott, for seven of the comedy’s nine seasons, will not be involved in the new series. The search for a new Regional Manager/boss is said to be already underway.”

This isn’t the first time that an Office revival has been mooted. NBC president Bob Greenblatt recently told reporters he personally hoped to revive some of the network’s comedies. These would include The Office and 30 Rock:

“We often talk about The Office, I’ve talked to Greg four times over the past few years. It’s always, ‘maybe some day but not now’. There is certainly an open invitation but we don’t have anything happening right now. If he wants to do it, I would do it.

“I’d say to Tina ‘Hey, you think some more 30 Rock makes any sense?’ She’d say, I don’t know maybe.’”

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By GlobalData

The Office originally ended in 2013, but even then it was considered past its prime. On average, the final series had just 4.28m viewers per episode. In comparison, during the rest of its run the series had, on average 9.05m viewers per episode. Later seasons also lost critical favour, although a few standout episodes were well-received.

How well do revivals do?

While many are excited at the prospect of an Office revival, not all are thrilled at the idea. Plenty of thinkpieces on the matter have argued that NBC should let sleeping dogs lie. But do revivals always tarnish the reputation of what came before?

In 2017 there’ve been plenty of major TV revivals. Viewers have been treated to revivals of Prison Break, Twin Peaks, and Will And Grace. And, for the most part, these revivals have been very well received.

We examined audience reception to both original series and their revivals to work out whether revivals tend to work or not.

For the purposes of this research, we’ve counted anything that falls within a 5 percent margin of the original, or scores even more highly a success. All reviews are from review aggregator Metacritic.

Original reviews: Revival reviews: Success or failure?
24 (2001–2010) vs. 24: Live Another Day (2014) 79% 70% Failure
Arrested Development (2003–2006) vs. Arrested Development (2013–present) 90% 72% Failure
Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000) vs. 90210 (2008–2013) 72% 71% Success
Boy Meets World (1993–2000) vs. Girl Meets World (2014–2017) 80% 66% Failure
Dallas (1978–1991) vs. Dallas (2012–2014) 88% 73% Failure
Doctor Who (1963–1989) vs. Doctor Who (2005–present) 90% 75% Failure
Full House (1987–1995) vs. Fuller House (2016–present) 75% 67% Failure
Gilmore Girls (2000–2007) vs. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016) 81% 69% Failure
Heroes (2006–2010) vs. Heroes Reborn (2016) 54% 46% Failure
Prison Break (2005–2009) vs. Prison Break: Resurrection (2017) 72% 50% Failure
The X-Files (1993–2002) vs. The X-Files (2016) 75% 75% Success
Twin Peaks (1990–1991) vs. Twin Peaks (2017) 91% 86% Success
Will & Grace (1998–2006) vs. Will & Grace (2017-present) 85% 59% Failure

So TV revivals don’t work?

Well, according to Metacritic’s audience scores, no, they do not.

However, there are some important things to note here. Firstly, on older TV series like Doctor Who and Dallas‘ original runs, people rarely review TV shows on a series by series basis. On modern TV shows, they do. This means that one bad series on a modern TV series can ruin its average. On the other hand, older TV series are generally reviewed by fans as a whole, rather than by series.

In addition, there’s the issue or rose-tinted glasses to contend with. People generally seem to have an idealized memory of shows’ original runs. This is bourne out by the comments people make while reviewing programmes on Metacritic.

Plus, revivals tend to be much shorter than original series. Whether intended as a limited run or untimely cancelled, a revival will often only receive one or two series. Perhaps this implies that fans have less time to warm to a revival’s merits in comparison to the originals. In addition, shows might also have less time to learn and grow.

Even so, it’s worth noting that, even without the comparison to the original, most of these revivals have not been successful. The obvious exceptions are Twin Peaks, The X Files, and (at a push) Doctor Who. Over half of the shows we analysed had an average user score of 70 percent or lower. That’s not exactly wonderful, especially considering that audience reviews across the internet generally tend to skew towards positivity.

The trouble with a rival is that it will always be compared to the original. Often a well-received original sets a very high bar, compounded by the weight of nostalgia.

Should NBC revive The Office?

On balance, probably not. Considering the original was so beloved, it’s hard to imagine a revival being given a fair chance based on its own merits.

Still, it’s pretty likely that NBC will be drawn to a revival more for the money than the creative providence. With that in mind, the focus for the creatives should be making a new series faithful to the old one. The only chance a revival has is winning over fans of the original. Only once they do that can a show begin to find its own feet.

Will The Office reboot be given the chance to do so? Maybe, but don’t count on it.