The New Yorker : Critics : Television : The Office
"Referring to such differences, Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, has remarked that 'Americans need a little bit more hope than the British.'"
I think it might be more accurate to say NBC Entertainment needs more hope. Americans are perfectly capable of handling hopelessness and futility. Yet the demands of an open-ended, 22-week season run of a sitcom require hope or at least, as the article cites, consolation. One of my favorite characters on the show is the borderline insane Creed character. The writers have resolutely refused to soften him up and that is just wonderful. I hope they maintain that tone with him.
Given the fact that shows like Survivor, American Idol, 24 et al are successful and essentially one season shows and it's the format that is consistent, I wonder if you could take a sitcom like The Office and just get a completely new cast, a new office, each season. You get a fresh 22 episode story arc. Maybe you keep one character such as the young intern who took Jim's position. This was sort of done on ER who has gone through many personnel changes over the years. I don't think it has been done much on a sitcom though.