?

Log in

No account? Create an account
The Office (UK)? More Like The Orifice (Dookie)! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> My Website

November 9th, 2006


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
11:18 pm - The Office (UK)? More Like The Orifice (Dookie)!
I was going to boast that I watched the entirety of the UK version of The Office in one day, but that didn't work out. I almost made it, though! After all, it was only twelve half-hour episodes and a two-part Christmas special. I wanted to watch it before catching up with the US version on principle, since it came first, and also because some people suggested that it was harder to appreciate the UK version after falling in love with the US version (although others have reported the exact opposite). Also, it's complete! Over! Done! It should be done first, so I can move on.

I had always been wary of the show because of all the bloody hype. It was supposed to be OMG BRILLIANT. It was also supposed to rely on so-called "humiliation humor" that many people found uncomfortable to watch. I wasn't sure I would like it.

It's shot in a documentary-style like Arrested Development, but unlike AD, it's not just a style: the show purportedly is a documentary. The characters are aware of the cameras; they're aware they're being watched, that they're talking to an audience. The conceit is followed mercilessly, which is cool, although you have to accept the fact that the cameras seem to sit in on meetings that you normally wouldn't allow to be made public.

No one is more aware of the cameras than David Brent, who, in my opinion, is the major reason to watch the show. Because Ricky Gervais is amazing. I think David Brent may be one of the best television characters of all time.

See, I had been under the impression that David Brent, the boss, was a Very Bad Man, some sort of raving asshole. But he isn't, and that's the genius. He is completely oblivious to what a terrible person he is. In fact, he takes great pride in himself and how much he strives not to be a terrible person. And, to be honest, I don't actually think he's a very terrible person. He has his bad qualities, but I really do think he has good intentions somewhere in there. Incredibly self-centered though they may be. David Brent, you see, is wholly concerned with appearances, which is what makes the documentary style of the show perfect for him. He wants a happy workplace, high in morale. He wants everyone to have a good laugh. He wants everyone to like him. It was probably bad that I identified with him a lot, huh?

Ricky Gervais is amazing. I just had to repeat that. He's somehow able to play Brent as this brilliant paradox: the most insincerely sincere man you'll ever meet and the most sincerely insincere man you'll ever meet. He lets us see the bruises to David's ego without actually letting David show them himself. He's immensely likable, and yet, he'll say things you wouldn't believe without recognizing the humor and offense in what he's saying.

And there is one scene, one scene in the entire show where we see David drop that facade, where we see him truly vulnerable, and it is heartbreaking. There were almost tears, guys. TEARS. For the third time: Ricky Gervais is amazing.

But what about the rest of the show? And is it actually funny? Oh, it's funny. It's funny when you least expect it, really. Because you never know what's going to come out of these characters' mouths since they just sort of spout whatever they're thinking with no filter most of the time. These aren't nuanced, complex characters, so much. There are a lot of office hijinks and inappropriate humor and homosexual innuendo and unresolved sexual tension. The "humiliation humor" aspect comes in because these characters never realize they're being made fun of. You can see them sort of uncomfortable, or you can see them not being uncomfortable when you know they really should be uncomfortable, and, well, it's sometimes an uncomfortable space for the viewer to be in. Sometimes, it's just hilarious. There are some scenes I just could not stop laughing through, some lines that made me laugh out loud for a long time.

I didn't like the second season as much as the first season. The beginning and end of the second season were really good, but the middle was hard to watch. The Christmas special was also hard to watch, but I liked the second half more than the first half.

For the few of you who find this relevant: Boyce and Kim from Green Wing! And Harriet, for one episode! And, for the men in general: attractive British ladies with accents!

One interesting thing was that the end credits always had a short scene right before the end, except...they were almost never funny, so...I don't know why they bothered. And I didn't like the theme music.

So, now I trek on to the US version, and I find myself wary of the cognitive dissonance. Because there's no way Steve Carell can match Ricky Gervais. And...the US version looks a lot...sunnier. Is Jim as awkward as Tim? Dwight doesn't seem like he has Gareth's military history, which was the butt of many jokes, and by butt I mean gay. I really enjoyed Gareth, although Dwight looks like he's enjoyable in a different way. I'm already certain I'll like Pam more than Dawn because I have a crush on Jenna Fischer just from the icons. Plus, there's an Indian chick!

Soon, I will join everyone else's squee. But if you're a fan of the US version and you've been wondering about the UK version, well, there you have it. I liked it! It's funny! The end.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Current Music: Interpol - Length of Love (Fog vs. Mould Remix)

(74 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
[User Picture]
From:sophia_helix
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
I really enjoy the English version when I catch it on PBS on Sunday nights. (I saw a few episodes before I saw the US version, though I still haven't seen the whole thing.) But... I have loved a lot of shows, and it's hard to decide if I have loved any casts more than I love the cast of the US Office. Maybe Firefly and Farscape are about equal. But I promise you, you will be able to love Michael Scott and Pam Beesly, if no one else.

Oh, and the first season is kind of odd. It still tries to be the English version, and there will probably be some dissonance. But it found its own voice by the third or fourth episode of the second season, and then it is just beautiful from then on out.

Hi, I'm sophia_helix, and I will be your starry-eyed Office evangelist tonight!
[User Picture]
From:cerulgalactus
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
And yet, Im here, waiting patiently for season 2 to get a damned DVD release in Australia (yes, I could import from the US, but Im all anal and like to have my total runs of a show come from one place).
[User Picture]
From:cerulgalactus
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
The first ep of the US one is an almost carbon copy of the UK version, but then it takes on a life of its own. Both are steeped heavily in that awkward humiliation humour (which is what I think did both you and I in for the middle part of s2 UK - the levels were at that cringe-worthy "I cant watch this unfold without feeling horrible" level), but the US version doesn't hold it nearly as long as the UK version does.

Stevel Carrell manages to play the same levels of sincere insincerity as Gervais, but you get the feeling that Michael Scott actually BELIEVES it, as opposed to Brent who, as you said, will let the walls down from time to time.

As for Tim and Dawn vs. Jim and Pam; they are all identifiably likeable, which comes from the natural charisma of the four players. Both John Krasinski and Martin Freeman manage to play the clued-up (yet equally clueless) everyman wise ass the same way as, for example, you or I would. Both characters are guys who you would no doubt be good friends with.

And yes, Jenna Fischer is all sorts of cute. Welcome to your new crush.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
(which is what I think did both you and I in for the middle part of s2 UK - the levels were at that cringe-worthy "I cant watch this unfold without feeling horrible" level),
Yeah, I mean...since I became so attached to David, I really didn't enjoy watching him get so utterly shit upon. He was so pathetic. It was horrid.

Stevel Carrell manages to play the same levels of sincere insincerity as Gervais, but you get the feeling that Michael Scott actually BELIEVES it, as opposed to Brent who, as you said, will let the walls down from time to time.
That's what I've heard, that Michael ends being more monstrous than David. Because I really believe David isn't an awful person, or at least he really, really tries not to be an awful person. It's almost like he can't help being awful. I feel like David is sort of an attempt to be Everyman. I don't think he enjoys making people feel bad on purpose. I find him really fascinating.
[User Picture]
From:sabra_n
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
(Link)
Next, you can try out the French and German versions of the show. :) (And Dwight doesn't need a military background to be completely ridiculous. Oh my lord.)

-blue
[User Picture]
From:burntspaghetti
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
(Link)
This post made me happy, because I'm seeing an increasing amount of people saying the UK version is inferior (though this seems to be only a small group of people who saw the US version first, but still...)

You know, I can't watch the US version. Not only because of the first episode being a pale copy of the UK pilot, but I will never understand why it had to be made at all. Plus the aforementioned whinging about the UK version makes me bitter towards the US version in general, as it wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the UK version.

And now I'll stop because otherwise I'll be overcome with bitterness.
[User Picture]
From:sabra_n
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
I kind of got reconciled to the idea of all those spinoffs when I read the Slate article about them all. Different countries have different office cultures. They'll find different things funny. My big problem when seeing the UK Office for the first time ages ago was that I couldn't make out a lot of the dialogue and there were no captions. :P

-blue
[User Picture]
From:electricmonk
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC)

I could catch a monkey. If I was starving I could.

(Link)
Yay! Now watch it again, and you'll hear lines you never heard before, and you'll laugh even more.
Ricky Gervais is brilliant. Like, painfully brilliant. He's in the new Christopher Guest movie, which I kind of want to see just for that.
It's funny, actually -- I have random Office things on my iPod, and I listened to them today for the first time in months. Deep down I must have known you were watching.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)

Re: I could catch a monkey. If I was starving I could.

(Link)
We have a spiritual connection, Mara!

The most recent thing that made me laugh out loud for maybe thirty seconds was David's explanation that he only found a woman attractive if she was as intelligent...or slightly less intelligent than he is.

David just kills me. It's like he doesn't even listen to what he's saying.
[User Picture]
From:lonesomepioneer
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yay!

I think I like the UK version better overall, but now that I've watched more of the US version, I like it on its own merits. I feel like the US version eventually figured out more stuff to do with the actors it actually had, as opposed to, like, Steve Carrell trying to play Ricky Gervais, which would almost certainly not have ended well. The two bosses end up being pretty different people, but each is horrendously, hilariously uncomfortable to watch on his own merits. Same with Gareth and Dwight.

Pam is pretty adorable, yes, although it's kind of upsetting how passive she is in all the terribleness. All the other characters either sortakinda deserve their fates, or have enough of a sense of humor that it's not that awful to watch, like Jim , on whom I have maybe the tiniest big ol' crush.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
(Link)
Everybody has a crush on Jim, Savannah. No need to be ashamed.

I think the UK version, in some of the interview segments, tried to be more than just a docucomedy, tried to say some stuff about people and life and such, and I think it succeeded, really without trying too hard. I think there's some there there if you want to look for it, you know?
[User Picture]
From:inigo
Date:November 10th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
And I didn't like the theme music.

You are dead to me.
[User Picture]
From:alannaofdoom
Date:November 10th, 2006 02:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I watched the UK version first and fell in absolute and total love with it. (Interestingly, when I tried to get mrskitty into it, she sat stone-faced and cringing until, I think, the last episode of s2, at which point she literally fell off the couch laughing, and then we had to go back and watch most of the series again because she'd finally figured out how to appreciate it.

I've been idly watching bits of the US version - I was very, very hesitant at first, having seen the complete and utter mess they made trying to do a US Coupling. (Like, okay, we'll make this show but we'll remove all the funny parts and replace them with things that aren't funny - that'll totally work!) So I didn't watch it at all, but then it gradually started saturating the world and creeping into my peripheral vision, and then I caught an episode or two on an airplane - so I haven't become a huge fan yet but I try to catch it when I can.

True story: when I applied for my first job out here in NY, I went in for an interview with the manager and he said, "I try to be a friend first, boss second... I like to have fun at work, it's okay to joke around..." It was like the UK pilot was replaying itself there before my eyes. And, no, he had never even heard of the show. Creeeeeeeepy.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Whoa. That would have been so freaky.
[User Picture]
From:maka2000
Date:November 10th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I personally haven't been able to get into the US version, but I did love the UK original. Their sense of humor is very different at times, super dry, which I LOVE. And you're right, Ricky Gervais is amazing. I always loved it when he had a scene with his boss - like when the porn email with his head on the girl's body was zooming around the office - when he's trying to have a serious conversation with her about how offended he was by the degradation of women... but his eyes just CAN'T stop from skipping back over to his monitor. It was so subtle and briliantly done. I own the first season on DVD and it's always good for a loud laugh.
[User Picture]
From:aprilbegins
Date:November 10th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Plus, there's an Indian chick!

And she's AWESOME. And I love that the actress is one of the writers to boot. Always room for more women in comedy writing.
[User Picture]
From:alliterator
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh my god, your icon is AWESOME.
[User Picture]
From:bspalek
Date:November 10th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am totally in love with Ricky Gervais. I think I have mentioned that like six times in my journal, but I find him reeealy attractive. Mostly because he is so brillant and funny. Have you ever seen Extras? Anyways, for a long time my love for the orginal version kept me away from the US version, but that was a silly mistake. Because, I actually think the US version is waaay funnier most days now that I have seen both.

Also, Jenna is sooo cute. Have you ever read her myspace blog? I want to eat her with a spoon.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Have you ever seen Extras?
I haven't, but now I'm interested.

Because, I actually think the US version is waaay funnier most days now that I have seen both.
I think that may end up being true for me too just because, you know, silly American. So the humor might hit the mark more often.

Also, Jenna is sooo cute. Have you ever read her myspace blog? I want to eat her with a spoon.
Heh. I haven't read it, but I know she's supercute.
From:metabeta
Date:November 10th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, then, I have to recommend you listen to The Ricky Gervais Show podcast, which isn't running new episodes currently but has a ton in archives and has the love of my life, Stephen Merchant (co-creator of the UK "The Office"), and the king of the world, Karl Pilkington.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Does he continue his dissertation on why men like cleavage?
[User Picture]
From:maidofawesome
Date:November 10th, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am not the world's greatest Office authority... for some bizarre reason I still haven't seen it all the way through (I really don't know why... it might be belated resentment for it beating Spaced on winning all those Baftas or something) but you should really watch Extras, if you haven't already. It's quite different to the Office - the humour is a lot broader, for one thing (it's not 'broad' in the sense of being cheap and a bit shit, but is definitely broader) and it kind of is genius. I've come to the conclusion that Ricky Gervais is so gifted at writing and playing a slightly terrible human being because maybe he kind of is... in the second series of Extras, his character is kind of despicable.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've come to the conclusion that Ricky Gervais is so gifted at writing and playing a slightly terrible human being because maybe he kind of is.
Hee! That would be sad but sensical. He's pulling the wool over all our eyes! He's not acting AT ALL!
[User Picture]
From:dachelle
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yay! I'm so glad you've finally seen the U.K. Office. I think you will like the U.S. version, too. I was turned off by the pilot because it was basically the U.K. one, but I think the show has definitely found its own voice while keeping the basic premise of the U.K. show. Where the U.S. version is superior, I think, is in the secondary characters - the other people in the office are more fleshed-out, probably as a consequence of having more episodes to fill in a season and therefore needing more characters. But Ricky Gervais's performance in the U.K. show is just brilliance, and Tim/Dawn are my all-time television OTP. The ending of the Christmas special always makes me tear up.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 10th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Where the U.S. version is superior, I think, is in the secondary characters - the other people in the office are more fleshed-out, probably as a consequence of having more episodes to fill in a season and therefore needing more characters.
Yeah, I can imagine.

But Ricky Gervais's performance in the U.K. show is just brilliance, and Tim/Dawn are my all-time television OTP.
See, I didn't find Tim/Dawn that interesting. I mean...they pretty much just gave each other looks for twelve episodes. And made fun of Gareth.

The ending of the Christmas special always makes me tear up.
It was very sweet, yes. Fucking Lee.
[User Picture]
From:vonniek
Date:November 10th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
One of these days, I need to marathon the The Office UK. I have most of the episodes on my computer and actually have seen two or three episodes, and found them funny but way too painful. I had tough time with it for the US version as well at the beginning, but the characters gradually won me over. I'm sure that would be the case with the UK version as well.

The major difference between the US and UK version is that US version is much of an ensemble show. The boss character is still front and center, but we get to spent a lot more time with the secondary characters, and not just Jim and Pam. That may or may not be a plus for you, depending on how much you like/hate/love to hate Michael Scott, the David Brent equivalent in the US version. Like Sophia said, S1 is a bit rocky (although I think ep 1x02, "Diversity Day", is brilliant) but S2 is consistently excellent.

Yay, The Office!

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com