Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Working Girl Rents The Office (UK)
I really wanted to write a post today about my irrational fear of recessions which turn into the Great Depression 2008, but WG1 convinced me that was a really bad idea since I know nothing about finance or banking (aka why my fears are irrational). Just in case you wanted to know, I also have irrational fears of mice and Amy Winehouse (her beehive filled with crack really scares the shit out of me).
Anyway, I decided to forgo my previous idea and instead write about my past weekend. While most 20-somethings were partying it up in the citay, I stayed home...in my bed...with ice cream...and watched the original version of The Office on DVD.
As an avid fan of the American version of The Office, I expected great things and many laughs. What I did not expect was only 6 episodes. Yes, in the United Kingdom a "series" is only 6 episodes. A full season of episodes in the US is around 22 episodes. So I think you can see why I was disappointed. And color me surprised that The Office in the UK only lasted for two seasons. 6+6=12 (just in case you are mathematically challenged like myself).
All right so despite my initial shock to learn that I could watch the entire two seasons in one day, I learned that I really love the original Office and that America completely and utterly stole the entire idea and story plots for their own. The American characters Pam & Jim -- yep, they were Tim & Dawn in the UK. Michael, Dwight, Kevin, Jan -- yes, they're all products of the original as well. And the entire first episode is almost exactly the same right down to the stapler in the JELL-O bit (minus the accents of course).
After you see beyond the similarities of the two shows, you absolutely fall in love with The Office. Ricky Gervais is amazing at making you feel bad for his character socially awkward David Brent, but five seconds later he has the ability to make you want to jump into the TV to punch him for his sexist/racist remarks. His comedic timing is spot on. Which of course leads me to his supporting characters (which there are a lot less of). My favorites of course were Gareth (the Dwight of the show) and Tim (who is just so adorable that I want to eat his little face). Gareth is more weasel-like and smarmy, but a former soldier which makes for great jokes. Tim makes your heart melt. Swoon.
Unfortunately, I think I may be a bit prejudiced when it comes to which I enjoy more. I watched the American show first, and there are more episodes to keep me occupied. There were some things about this version however that I liked more. Overall, it seems more believable. And from watching the special behind-the-scenes featurette on disc 2 I found out that they really shot the show in a real office building (not a set!) and that they were so loud that they were asked to tone it down by the other offices in the building. I also felt like the characters are a tad more believable. Every single one of them seemed like they could work at my office. But I truly think that is the nature of British television - it's all shot in a way that makes it seem more real (unless it's East Enders, sorry but not real at all).
Also, the whole premise of The Office is that it is being shot as a documentary. Sometimes when watching the American version you forget that, but with the UK version it's obvious because it's choppy and not all the scenes fit perfectly together. But that's the point! So I love that aspect.
But as an American I am a lover of happy endings. The full circle is something I expect. And The Office in the UK could care less if we want Tim and Dawn to live happily ever after.
My recommendation is to rent the entire 12 hours when you have a free Saturday lying around. It's a great substitute for bad Lifetime movies.