Successfully spinning off a beloved TV show is trickier than it seems. For every Frasier or The Jeffersons, there’s an AfterMASH, The Ropers, or — perhaps most infamously of all — Joey.
It makes sense, then, for networks to hedge their bets by airing episodes of existing shows that serve as “backdoor pilots” for potential spinoffs. The Cosby Show did it when the Huxtable clan went to see Denise at Hillman College, setting up A Different World; Grey’s Anatomy did it when Addison took a trip to California, visiting the Private Practice she’d eventually join. And last night, The Office did it by setting half of the action at Schrute Farms, where audiences were introduced to a few heretofore unseen members of Dwight’s family — including his weed farmer brother Jeb (Thomas Middlemarch), his single mom sister Fannie (Majandra Delfino), and his bearded cousin Zeke (Matt Jones, a.k.a. Badger on Breaking Bad).