Regional Office Nearly Matches Home Office

Filed Under Sitcom

The premiere of The Office on NBC gave me stirrings of optimism for the network situation comedy again. Anyone who dismisses it harshly because it’s not the original does not realize how much of a breakthrough this is: no laugh track, pained silences, a real environment anyone might work in, characters who take insults uncomfortably and seriously. This is exactly what we need in situation comedy now.

Though it’s not near the original’s perfection, this remake has retained all the right stuff to make something amazing in its own right. The main flaw I can see is that Steve Carell hasn’t found the depth of character in the obnoxious manager than progenitor Ricky Gervais did. That said Carell is still hilarious, managing to make the unfunny shtick of a middle manager hilarious. And if the show goes as long as it should, he’ll find something akin to the sadness in David Brent.

Selecting Greg Daniels to shepherd the American version of the show was the best move anyone could have made. Daniels previously worked on King of the Hill which had a tradition of using uncomfortable silences as well. The two shows are also similar in that they focus on real people in places far from media capitals New York and Los Angeles, with stories that reflect those people’s concerns.

From what I’ve heard the later episodes, which completely depart from the British scripts, are even better than this solid retranslation. Considering that the show will have one more main character to play with and more uniquely American issues (race will obviously play a far bigger role here than Britain), I have high hopes that this will be loved for it’s own merits.

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Comments

Posted by danielle on 04/05  at  06:01 PM

i completely agree.  critics have been kind to the show—maybe because they usually have to watch “according to jim”—but cool comedian people have been pretty harsh, unnecessarily so.  yes, it’s not the original but it’s pretty damn good.  the diversity episode was hysterical.

Posted by drew on 04/05  at  07:46 PM

I like everything they did except re-use the same scripts. I look forward to seeing more original material, but I just hope the show survives in the meantime. After all, look how hard Fox is trying to kill Arrested Development.

Posted by Rob Bates on 04/06  at  06:32 PM

The big difference is that the original is so sad and pathetic that by the end of the Christmas special it turned into this weird drama. I don’t think anything that downbeat could make it as a regular series on American television.

Also, the English series seems REAL. The boss does things that we all could see people (or us) doing, that’s why it’s so painful to watch. In the American version, the boss is just over-the-top stupid. I mean, the diversity episode was a riot, but I can’t see anyone really making people but cards on their heads.

Anyway I agree the show has potential. People should give it a chance.

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