Sitcoms are, in general, less plotcentric than are dramas. All you need is a weak premise, some way for the characters to know one another and a context with which to interact, and you’re more-or-less set.
Watching last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother reminded me of a premise that has largely and almost certainly forever will be unused: the office smoker’s circle. The context is perfect. You can throw together characters from different backgrounds relatively easily. Warehouse workers next to officer workers and in some cases higher-ups.
One of my complaints about The Office, and it’s not entirely a complaint because my idea is objectively no better than theirs, but it’s that the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin is a relatively small and close-knit group. I would love to see an office comedy akin to those IBM commercials about a large, corporate setting. The problem with that is that you can get stuck in whichever department you put the employees in. Make it about IT workers and you get an IT-oriented comedy. Even something more general like HR (which is the route Drew Carey took) can leave humorous stones unturned.
However, if you throw together a handful of employees from different groups, you can cover a wider area of office inanity. The best way to do that is either some cafeteria lunch table (though people are most likely to sit with those that they work with) or carpooling (which has been done, but not in an office comedy). Or… well… smokers. When I was at Monmark-Soyokaze, I was a tester hanging out with developers, the shipping manager, the VP of marketing, phone support, and so on. At Mindstorm it was more limited, but still I met and talked to a group of other people I never would have met (despite the fact that by that point I had greatly reduced my cigarette consumption). At Wildcat I got to know the head of Assembly, some welders, the Chief Project Manager, and so on.
It’s a great premise, though it will almost certainly never be used for the most obvious of reasons: it promotes smoking. Or at the very least, it provides an acceptable face for it that everybody from government to health interest groups to the public at large is trying to push to the fringes of society. Maybe that can be overcome by, whenever a cast member leaves, they suddenly die of lung cancer?