NBC keeps 'The Office' lights burning with extended finale

MUMBAI: US broadcaster NBC has extended the sitcom The Office through 11 May 2006. The network will add an extra original episode plus other encore broadcasts that will now take the comedy past its previously announced season finale of 30 March.

For the uninitiated The Office takes a look at the interactions of the desk jockeys at Dunder Mifflin paper-supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Golden Globe winner Steve Carell The 40-Year-Old Virgin-- whom E! Online said, "might be the funniest man alive," stars as unctuous regional manager Michael Scott who hosts the documentary crew on a tour of the workplace. Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski , Rainn Wilson and B.J. Novak star as the employees who tolerate Michael's inappropriate behavior only because he signs their paychecks.

The new comedy Teachers will premiere on 28 March. Justin Bartha stars as Jeff, an irreverent, rule-breaking teacher where the faculty takes center stage. Sarah Alexander joins him as Alice, a fellow teacher, who won't give up on the students or the school. Jeff's best friend and resident drama teacher is Calvin while other school denizens include radio comedian Phil Hendrie as Dick, the veteran teacher who is over the system and would rather barbecue behind the gymnasium. Tina is a hot new substitute teacher who joins the faculty, and Mitch is an eager-to-please teacher who worships Principal Emma Wiggins.

Despite not being able to match the success of Friends, Joey returns with original episodes on 7 March.

NBC says that since shifting to Thursday nights on 5 January this year, The Office has averaged a 4.7 rating, 11 share in the 18-49 demographic and 9.1 million viewers overall. That represents a 27 per cent increase over the show's 18-49 average for Tuesday telecasts earlier this season (3.7/9 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall) and an 88 percent increase over The Office's average for the 2004-05 season (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall), when it also aired on Tuesday nights.

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