The Office: An American Workplace

Or, to give it its American title: The Office.

It seems like the telly bigwigs added the subtitle to avoid any confusion over here with this and Ricky Gervais’ award winning comedy series, which this is based on. In fact, Gervais and Stephen Merchant both get Executive Producer credits on each episode.

Scranton Branch Group Photo

I’ve been watching this since it started a few years ago on ITV2 but, as it seemed like it was going to be another year before they were going to show the next series, I buckled and bought it on DVD.

When the first series aired, it was immediately shot down by critics and viewers alike (remember, the UK version was also a massive hit in the US, probably the main reason this one was made).

It was basically a complete rehash of The Office with different actors and character names  and some different jokes to suit its new location.

The main storylines in series one are identical to the first few episodes of the UK version: Jim (Tim) is  a constant thorn in the side of his desk-mate Dwight (Gareth) but also secretly loves Pam (Dawn) who is engaged to Roy (Lee) and Michael (David) is thoroughly cringworthy and embarrasing in his role as branch ‘manager’.

People also complained that it was more like a sitcom than a mockumentary, that it didn’t have as natural a style as it’s UK counterpart.

However, about half way through the series, things started to change. Episodes were seen with different story-lines to the UK ones. The other office workers (who were only really cannon fodder for Gervais’ insults in the UK version) were given more lines and time to develop and Michael (played by the excellent Steve Carell) overtook David in the running for ‘Worst Boss Ever (That You’d Secretly Love To Work For)’.

Before the viewing public knew what had happened,a full four series had been shown and fans had warmed to the entire character roster (yes, even Dwight).

And, do you know what? I think this is actually better than the UK original.        * ducks chair thrown by UK Office fan*

In fact, that’s not quite true. I actually see this as a completely different show than the UK version, and I just happen to like it that bit  more.

So, why do I like it more? Carell is probably the main reason. Rather than being nasty, selfish and egotistical (as David is), he’s stupid, naive, insecure and egotistical. This makes him a much more sympathetic character which, I think, makes the show a lot easier to watch.

Michael - The mug says it all....

True, the documentary style isn’t as present in this (although, there are still glances to the camera and one-on-one interviews) but, again, it makes it a lot easier to watch. Some of the situations that are presented are so over the top that they just wouldn’t work if it was being presented as a documentary.

Having an extended cast also helps. Favourites are:

Toby (HR rep) – constantly butting heads with Michael who tends to respond with such answers as “Ok, from now on, nobody listen to Toby. He doesn’t exist.”

Ryan (the temp) – college graduate stuck in a rut at the failing paper company, made the mistake of helping Michael once and now can’t get rid of him.

Angela – Ice Maiden, the object of Dwight’s affection, extreme cat lover and party planner extraordinaire. “The balloons do NOT go there! This party starts in 5 minutes….MOVE THEM!”

And finally, the fact that it’s still on!

As you can tell, I like this show, a lot. If you get it on DVD, just take it, shove it in and enjoy it………….

All together now……..That’s What She Said!

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One thought on “The Office: An American Workplace

  1. The Office (US) is my favourite comedy to come out of the US since Friends (and that’s going back a few years!).

    It’s hard to beat the original UK version for originality but the Americans have taken a great idea and ran with it.

    Just a shame it’s another show hidden on an obscure channel at a crappy time (similar to The Wire, Dexter and even going back a bit Seinfeld- all shows which are/were popular on Sky/cable but got nowhere on terrestrial).

    i

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