It official: Steve Carell has chosen "Goodbye, Michael" as the episode that he's submitting to Emmy judges who will decide the winner of the lead actor in a comedy race.
It was a tough call, considering Carell had another strong option too -– "Garage Sale," in which his character, Michael Scott, makes a tender-hearted marriage proposal to Holly (Amy Ryan) while surrounded by a sea of lighted candles. The fact that he's portrayed so sympathetically is key. One of the theories why Carell has lost five times in the past is because his Michael character can be off-putting. Finally, in "Garage Sale," Michael redeems himself and TV viewers actually root for him instead of, as usual, against him.
"Garage Sale" has another plus too, at least in terms of selfish appeal to Carell. He directed it. Rarely has he helmed episodes of "The Office." In fact, he'd done so only twice earlier. However, Carell didn't even bother to submit "Garage Sale" for consideration as a nominee in the directing category this year, so maybe it's no mystery that he chose not to submit it for acting either.
But he probably made the best choice by picking "Goodbye, Michael" for the acting contest. It has three positive factors:
1.) Michael is sympathetic again, this time as he bids farewell to his office colleagues.
2.) It's 50 minutes long rather than the usual 30-minute episode. Often size matters at the Emmys, although added screen time didn't help Carell in 2008 when he submitted the one-hour "Goodbye, Toby" in which Michael first meets Holly and takes her on a romantic ferris wheel ride in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot. Carell lost to Alec Baldwin, who submitted a 30-minute segment of "30 Rock" ("Rosemary's Baby").
3.) It's historic. The fact that Carell is saying goodbye to TV viewers as Michael Scott bids adieu to his Dunder Mifflin cohorts is, let's face it, one of the milestone moments in modern television lore. It will probably be irresistible to Emmy voters. In 2004, when Sarah Jessica Parker submitted her final episode of "Sex and the City," which was titled "An American Girl in Paris, Part 2," she finally won her elusive Emmy.
Carell has made some very bad choices in some past Emmy derbies that contributed to his string of losses, including "The Injury" (2006) and "The Cover-Up" (2010). His other choices were OK –- like "Business School" (2007) and "Broke" (2009) –- just not quite strong enough.
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-- Tom O'Neil
Photo: Steve Carell in the "Goodbye, Michael" episode of "The Office." Credit: NBC