Ben Silverman’s Strange Path Back to The Office … as a Cast Member

That is definitely Ben Silverman (NBC)

That is definitely Ben Silverman. (NBC)

The biggest news tonight on NBC is, naturally, the end of 30 Rock’s seven-year run. “Will Liz Lemon finally realize her mistake and run back into the arms of Dennis Duffy?” That’s the biggest question. That and “How many articles about Tina Fey’s ‘contribution’ to comedy will run before it starts sounding like an obituary?” But there are other interesting turns for the Peacock’s Thursday-night lineup that we should be paying attention to. For instance, why has former NBC exec wunderkind Ben Silverman started popping up in episodes of The Office?

We noticed it two episodes ago, when Daryl went to Philly for an interview at Jim’s sports-related startup. (Yeah, you do have a lot of catching up to do since you stopped watching three seasons ago. Like: there hasn’t been any regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin since Andy left on his boat, but apparently no one from corporate has noticed, so why is anyone even bother showing up for work anymore when they could stay home and draw a paycheck?) One of Halpert’s co-workers looked strangely familiar, like Scott Disick with a larger forehead. Where had we seen him before?

And with a shock, we realized that it was disgraced party-boy Mr. Silverman, who had shot up the corporate ladder when he came up with the idea of bringing The Office to the United States, only to fall from grace soon after. Ironically, the only time we’ve heard about Mr. Silverman since was during his own attempt at a comedy/commercial venture with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman called DumbDumb, which was part of his larger startup Electus, which was backed by IAC—and that is all anyone knows about that.

Of course, Mr. Silverman would have retained a fondness for the Scranton employees, since it was the golden feather in his otherwise shabby and kind of gross cap. But out of all of the return cameos the show could have fixed on for its final season–Steve Carell, Rashida Jones, Will Ferrell, hell, even Idris Elba–Mr. Silverman is perhaps the oddest fit. He’s not only not an actor, and not only is he appearing on the network that humiliated him (and continued to, well after his departure, in the form of 30 Rock’s oily antagonist Devin Banks, played, oddly enough, by Arnett), but he decided to show up right before the big announcement that ABC has picked up his new show Bet on Your Baby. (Oh God, we hope not literally.)

So what is this return to The Office about? Revenge? A show of “No hard feelings”? A grab for some TV face-time before we all forgot who he was? Not sure: since Mr. Silverman’s thought process is protected behind a shield of glossy, magazine-perfect hair. But one thing’s for sure … we’re really going to miss 30 Rock.