Will this comedy ever cross the atlantic?
October 20, 2002 1:44 AM   Subscribe

Will this comedy ever cross the atlantic? The Office, now half way through its second series, must be the sharpest, funniest and most tragic t.v. comedy the BBC have made in a long time. A spoof documentary set in the office of a paper wholesaler whose manager, David Brent, is obsessed with his motivational bon homie and oblivious to the fact the rest of the world thinks he is a bumptious idiot. The clips give some idea of the style but maybe the humour is too British to travel far.
posted by rolo (22 comments total)
Might turn up on BBC America. Either that or it'll get a poor remake featuring John Larroquette.
posted by feelinglistless at 1:49 AM on October 20, 2002

episodes from the first season played on bbc canada in total obscurity at odd hours - sometimes 8pm wednesdays other times and 3am saturdays or some such - and then it disappeared, only to be replaced by tiresome shite like manchild and coupling. they've been sort of demented with the schedule tho' - working out what we do and don't like i suppose, since the channel is spanking brand new here - so i expect to see the office come back eventually.
posted by t r a c y at 3:28 AM on October 20, 2002

I find The Office much like The League of Gentlemen. It's the humour of embarrassment, which can make difficult viewing at times. I think the nearest American TV has got to such humour is The Larry Sanders Show, where you couldn't help but feel sorry, and yet contemptuous for Larry and Hank.
posted by salmacis at 3:50 AM on October 20, 2002

tiresome shite like manchild and coupling

Oh come on, coupling is a great thing ...
posted by feelinglistless at 3:52 AM on October 20, 2002

Oh come on, coupling is a great thing ...

The second (I think) episode of this series was good. The first and third, like the entire last series was RUBBISH.

The Office is one of the best comedys I've ever seen. I can't wait for the third series of Alan Partridge though.

Smell my cheese, you mother.
posted by ed\26h at 4:53 AM on October 20, 2002

Here is an interesting analysis of the show. Personally, I found the first series to be the most amusing thing ever broadcast. The scary bit is we all have met characters like David, Tim and Gareth in our working lifes (at least I have!). With the second series I am starting to find the show slightly predictable (apart from THAT joke, and it's fall out in the first episode).

Like Rolo I wonder if the rest of the world will get it. Many of the references in the show are very culturally specific. For example, Tim's scrolling screensaver "Gareth is a Benny"
posted by cohiba at 5:15 AM on October 20, 2002

It's strange to enjoy something that makes one *cringe* so much! The first series was indeed the best TV comedy since Alan Partridge.

I do think it will fail to cross the Atlantic though, and an American friend I watched it with wasn't nearly as entertained as I was.

It would have been a nice cross-reference if the screen saver ( which I'm afraid I never noticed ) read "Gareth is a mentalist"...
posted by godidog at 6:32 AM on October 20, 2002

sharpest, funniest and most tragic t.v. comedy the BBC have made in a long time

Sharpest and tragic I agree but I'm still undecided whether to consider it funny or not. This portrayal of office life is so accurate that it makes me cringe --some friends of mine admit that it's so close to the bone that they cannot watch more than ten minutes of it.

It's compelling TV but not because it's funny but probably because most of us can relate to the characters and situations.

As for how well the series would travel, as a Catalan who has been living in London for four years and still doesn't get some of the jokes in the show, I think that the characters and format are so universal --I had my share of Davids and Gareths in my days as an office worker in Barcelona-- that, even if some jokes are lost, western audiences would still enjoy it (or cringe with it).
posted by blogenstock at 6:42 AM on October 20, 2002

Just out of curousity, did Blackadder ever cross over to America?

I don't like cringe tv, I always close my eyes or leave the room when someone is about to get embarrassed. I'm odd like that..
posted by Mossy at 6:43 AM on October 20, 2002

For an American slant on office satire you really can't beat Office Space

Vastly superior to the increasingly bland Dilbert, Office Space has the added attraction of the Swingline stapler. It seems I'm not the only one who thinks Boston staplers are more prone to jamming.
posted by backOfYourMind at 7:10 AM on October 20, 2002

Oh sweet Jesus - how lame am I?

Who's the goose? - it's me!
posted by backOfYourMind at 7:13 AM on October 20, 2002

Yes, Blackadder crossed over. Here, it's on two different PBS stations at two different times on Saturdays. I also have the Region 1 DVD set, which is quite nice, even though we haven't watched the whole thing yet.
posted by atholbrose at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2002

Bread never made it across the pond...and I've still not forgiven the Beeb.
posted by m@ at 8:46 AM on October 20, 2002

Heh. I believe that "The Office" WILL eventually cross over to the US, where it will be remade as "The Oval Office", for obvious reasons :)
posted by kaemaril at 9:50 AM on October 20, 2002

Office Space, whilst very good is only 89 mins long. The Office manages to enrapture me consistently, throughout the program/series. It's like the Sopranos of comedy, there is just so much going on, so much subtlety in the acting.
While cringetv may be difficult to watch, it beats gross-out comedy for me. It leaves me feeling drained, but not violated.

BIG UP THE BBC. I salute the Buggers Broadcasting Communism.

In the words of Alan Partridge:

Tony: …don’t hesitate, if you have any other ideas. I’d be very interested…

Alan: Got them here, got them here! [Alan reaches down and picks up a blue file.]

Tony: Right…

Alan: Right, OK. ‘Shoestring’, ‘Taggart’, ‘Spender’, ‘Bergerac’, ‘Morse’. What does that say to you about regional detective series’?

Tony: There’s too many of them?

Alan: That’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is, ‘people like them, let’s make some more of them’. A detective series based in Norwich called ‘Swallow’. Swallow is a detective who tackles vandalism. Bit of a maverick, not afraid to break the law if he thinks it’s necessary. He’s not a criminal, but he will, perhaps, travel 80mph on the motorway if, for example, he wants to get somewhere quickly…

More reality/comedies please Auntie. People like them, let's make more of them. More Happiness.
I never knew Whitehouse wrote for Big Night Out. That explains alot.
posted by asok at 10:00 AM on October 20, 2002

Saw the live version of 'The Fast Show' the other night. Now there's a show which would never work in the US ...
posted by feelinglistless at 10:49 AM on October 20, 2002

feelinglistless: What, you mean it wouldn't "suit you", sir? :)
posted by kaemaril at 12:52 PM on October 20, 2002

I find The Office much like The League of Gentlemen. It's the humour of embarrassment

TLoG actually makes me nauseous... when i do catch an ep i usually watch it out of the corner of my eye, i can't actually face it head on LOL!

Just out of curousity, did Blackadder ever cross over to America?

canada too. i don't know anyone who doesn't love blackadder, and everything else rowan atkinson has ever done. he was here a few years ago for a book signing at the eatons centre (huge mall downtown toronto) and was mobbed like a rock star hehe.
posted by t r a c y at 1:49 PM on October 20, 2002

Yeah, it's incredibly embarrassing to watch. I can only stomach about 5 minutes of it at a time before hurrying to change the channel. The fact that it's filmed in a documentary style (or cinéma vérité for you film students out there) just makes it so in-your-face that I can't help cringing whenever the Brentmaster General opens his mouth.

It's been so hyped up now, I doubt newcomers will find it funny, be they American or otherwise.
posted by John Shaft at 3:08 PM on October 20, 2002

I feel obligated to point out CBC's terrific office/news deadpan satire, The Newsroom -- now coming back as a TV movie.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on October 20, 2002

I wish the Channel 4 show, Spaced, would make it over here. Damn funny, and much more clever than our usual US sitcom dreck.
posted by misterioso at 9:31 AM on October 21, 2002

Funny ... we were just discussing this over several pints of bitter at lunch. The Office is second only to Spaced, in recent years. League of Gentlemen comes a tight third. None of these shows contain the cheap "BADA-BOOM" jokes so prominent in American sitcoms, but they'll certainly travel ... maybe not to mainstream audiences, though ...
posted by walrus at 7:02 AM on October 22, 2002

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