Okay the numbers are in
March 31, 2005 6:29 AM   Subscribe

Okay, the numbers are in. Now that die hard fans of the UK edition have vented, I'm curious to know what those who have not yet had the pleasure of Ricky Gervais' company make of the American version of The Office. Comments?
posted by IndigoJones (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would I need a TV to know about this?
posted by mischief at 6:33 AM on March 31, 2005

Eh, it's about like Fred Savage's "Working" series a few years back -- no evidence that anyone involved has ever SEEN a real office. That's typical Hollywood/network mentality.

BTW: "Working" had one of the the coolest title sequences ever, with scenes from Fritz Lang's metropolis intercut with footage of worker ants, and Devo's "Working in a Coalmine" playing over it all ...
posted by brykmantra at 6:38 AM on March 31, 2005

It didn't do nearly as well on it's regular night, although it kept most of the audience for Scrubs so I'm sure NBC is happy enough:
"House" may have hit new series highs with its 11.3/17 to give FOX a second straight hour. The first of two hours of "The Amazing Race" on CBS was second with a 7.7/12. ABC's "According to Jim" and "Rodney" claimed third. On NBC, "Scrubs" (4.3/7) and "The Office" (4.1/6) could only muster a fourth place finish. UPN's new "Veronica Mars" had a weak 1.6/2, though that was enough to beat "The Starlet" on The WB.
posted by smackfu at 6:40 AM on March 31, 2005

Somehow, I think those premiere numbers might have largely been the product of promotion, curiosity and the brief-but-blessed half-hour format.

I was offended by the web-previews NBC offered a few weeks back, but I tuned-in, just to see how it all went down in its entirety. But will I watch it again? Probably not.

Honestly, I couldn't really get into the original show, back when I had BBC America...
posted by vhsiv at 6:57 AM on March 31, 2005

O/T: MSNBC is reporting that Terri Schiavo has died.


oh come on, man.

Now, about The Office...I've not heard a single good thing. Even though the NY Times liked it. I might catch it next week just out of curiosity.
posted by spicynuts at 6:59 AM on March 31, 2005

Awful; the guy from Six Feet Under is okay, but the rest of them stink.
posted by zeoslap at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2005

I watched the first US episode, and was surprised at how non-crap it was. It wasn't by any means as good as the original, but it made me laugh. I watched the second ep on Tuesday, and it was...crap. Ah well. Who's the guy from 6 Feet Under?
posted by everichon at 7:02 AM on March 31, 2005

At least in the promo pic everyone is not smiling. It used to weird me out as a kid to see the TV guide with the new shows and everyone in every cast pic was smiling! Even the drama. Is this yet another sign of us becoming a meaner society?
posted by angrynative at 7:05 AM on March 31, 2005

Oooh, sorry, I'm not a man.....

And honestly...finally. What that woman was experiencing was not life.
posted by Sharktattoo at 7:08 AM on March 31, 2005

I liked it and have watched both episodes, but I don't have much going on. Beats watching Law & Order reruns, I guess.
posted by scratch at 7:10 AM on March 31, 2005

I loved the original, and I was expecting this one to be crap on the level of Coupling. But it wasn't, and I even laughed once or twice. I'm not sure that I'll keep up with it (right now, I only saw it because I skipped class that evening), but as far as things go it seems Ok.
I mean, in terms of adaptations from Brits, it's definitely a Sanford and Son, not an All In The Family...
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 AM on March 31, 2005

Haven't seen the original, so I fit that criterion.

The U.S. version is not terribly funny. I was disappointed; I like Steve Carrell. But his brand of humor is not office humor. At least, not good office humor.

Also, someone whose name rhymes with TarkShattoo needs to find a more appropriate forum.
posted by solotoro at 7:18 AM on March 31, 2005

I'm curious to know what those who have not yet had the pleasure of Ricky Gervais' company make of the American version of The Office.
An odd thread, because I can comment as I haven’t seen it.
Then my "know what" is I've seen the original, The Office, on DVD which is available at the local video store in Dallas, Tx. Also the DVD is highly praised by the store.

I’m concerned the American version will ruin my desire watching it now. As the American version may not pull off the great British dry dark humor a show like this will be known for giving the original version a bad impression. I'm just going by the previous comedy sitcoms that I have watched over the years. Ending with me finally seeing the original series on PBS 10-20 years from now.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:23 AM on March 31, 2005

Just watched "Diversity Day", and have not yet seen the UK original (but now I'm curious, and I've got bittorrent just waiting for me).

Having spent little time working in a real office myself, I'm not qualified to comment on its authenticity, but I thought the show was interesting, at least, for A) being gleefully politically incorrect, and B) taking the cringe-inducing humor of George Costanza and building an entire show out of it. Not what I would consider standard network fare. For that, at least, it is to be commended.
posted by adamrice at 7:26 AM on March 31, 2005

This is the guy I thought was pretty good in the US version Rainn Wilson who played Arthur Miller in 6Ft Under
posted by zeoslap at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2005

taking the cringe-inducing humor of George Costanza and building an entire show out of it.

I haven't seen the US version yet (Tivo has it waiting) but it would be hard for me to imagine that it could approach the cringeworthiness of the original. I frequently had to pause it just to recover.
posted by Cyrano at 7:34 AM on March 31, 2005

I frequently had to pause it just to recover.

I often had to look away from the screen out of shame for the Ricky Gervais character. They really stick it to the viewer in the original. I started to feel like maybe there was something wrong with me for being so completely horrified but so completely fascinated - like slowing down while driving past a really bad accident.
posted by spicynuts at 7:58 AM on March 31, 2005

"I frequently had to pause it just to recover." Exactly. Thats why it might fail here. But whats worse is the looks into the camera -- i mean it can't have it both ways.
posted by uni verse at 8:13 AM on March 31, 2005

I watched the web preview and thought it was ok enough to give it a chance...I could see it finding its own rhythm and humor.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:30 AM on March 31, 2005

I've got the original in my Netflix q. Saw the American version and thought it sucked pretty bad, thinkin about deleting the original out of my q
posted by Justin Case at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2005

I saw the original, and I saw the US Pilot and of COURSE i compared it to the original, but I will say it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I have a feeling when they start doing original material instead of recreating British episodes it will "come into its own".

What i loved most about the original was the deafening SILENCE that would just make you want to rip your face off. it was brilliant. The American version has really gotten rid of that, which i think is a shame. That being said, my family hate Hate HATED the British version and seemed to really enjoy the US version, so maybe NBC is doing something right.

If i could find out WHEN it was going to be on, I'd sure watch it again though. I have high hopes.
posted by indiebass at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2005


(Tuesdays, 9:30. Good point about the silences)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:47 AM on March 31, 2005

What filth! Ricky Gervais' show was golden, perfect in every way a television show can be. And us filthy Americans have to go crap all over it with this. My big question is: how did they get Gervais' approval?
posted by JPowers at 8:58 AM on March 31, 2005

JPowers: $$$$$$$$$$

One telling difference in the ep last night: There's one of those long uncomfortable pauses that the Brit version was so good at, where the diversity trainer is just kind of looking at someone, horrified, for way longer than you would ever hold a silent awkward moment on US TV...but then the Americans cheat by overlapping the next bit of dialog over the last 1/3 of the awkward pause, so it's not really silent. Bonus stupidity: The overlapping dialogue is coming from the same character, so he's both staring silently and speaking his next line, warping the time/space continuum.

I throw up my hands in frustration at this.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:16 AM on March 31, 2005

If I might reiterate - I was really hoping for comments from people who have not seen the original. I appreciate the passion this show inspires (which I share, by the way), but we have had the complaint thread already.

Carry on, please.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:30 AM on March 31, 2005

I was surprised to like the second episode of the the American version a lot. The humor is broader than the Brits' version, but it still manages to tackle a lot of the innate racism and sexism that the boss seems to harbor so ignorantly.

The pacing is faster in the American version in general, and doesn't have too many of those drawn-out cuts. Overall, I think the American version may not be nearly as good as Rick Gervais' masterpiece, but it certainly is better than most shows the networks are putting out.
posted by i8ny3x at 9:42 AM on March 31, 2005

I thought there'd be more
Jonathan Green's in this thread.
posted by jikel_morten at 10:21 AM on March 31, 2005

I couldn't ever get past the Brit accents in the original so I never watched.

I've enjoyed the first two episodes of the new version. I watch few sitcoms, but two things I like about this one: no laugh track, and it doesn't telegraph jokes. Also, having had to suffer through diversity training at least a half-dozen times in my career, the show nailed it right on.
posted by sixpack at 10:22 AM on March 31, 2005

I really want to watch the original, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. However, I have seen the two American episodes.

I liked it, but not because I thought it was funny. I've worked in offices before, never terrible ones, but I could see how easily one person could make work terrible. I've always thought that Office Space was the scariest movie of all time, not because anyone is truly terrified, but because that could easily be my future. So, the American version of the Office is kind of like watching a horror film for me.
posted by Alison at 10:25 AM on March 31, 2005

I am probably the last remainiing human who has never seen the original. That said, I am aware of it's apparent goodness ( hey..it's brit comedy) so I tuned-in for the US remake.
What utter codswallop. I left after about 5 minutes or so.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:32 AM on March 31, 2005

I never watched the UK version and went out of my way to watch the US premiere, even though I don't really watch much television if I can help it. Anyway, I thought it was okay and, having done my time in a few 'real' offices, I found it a little lacking.

I am somewhat a fan of Carrel (Daily Show being one of the few shows I used to go out of my way to watch) but don't really think he makes a good boss chaster. He has some of the archetype down but at the same time I just couldn't stop thinking that there was no way he would've made it into his position in the first place. Then again, I've thought that about some of my bosses as well.

The humor attempts to be Larry David (or Geoge Castanza as pointed out) but comes across rather awkward and contrived. Then again, I've had to endure for months the "have seen the BBC version" crowd crying... err predicting that this one would suck to high heaven so maybe my perception has been influenced.

I definitely won't be tuning in again but probably wouldn't flip away if I happened to be watching it.
posted by melt away at 10:40 AM on March 31, 2005

um, chaster? I swear I used spell check.
posted by melt away at 10:41 AM on March 31, 2005

I haven't seen the original, but have seen the two US episodes. They were pretty good. Not great, but more interesting than most. Steve Carrell's character seems a little too broad and over-the-top when he turns it on. I think the subtler moments are the better part of the show.
posted by sad_otter at 10:49 AM on March 31, 2005

As far as remakes go - I'm finding it pretty good. The do just enough "localization" to make it relevant. They'll run out of scripts to re-produce rather quickly. If it makes it - I think the real test is how they'll continue the show beyond the handful of episodes already written.
While we're talking about remakes - anyone else disappointed that the esteemed Nick Hornby has sold his soul to the devil and is allowing a remake of Fever Pitch that is about baseball?!?
posted by Wolfie at 11:07 AM on March 31, 2005

David Brent's character seemed to know that he was full of shit. And that's what made the show beautiful: watching this pathetic man try to make up for his inadequcies by being audacious. That's what made me cringe. (And what makes us cringe with George Costanza, too.)

But in the US version, the main character doesn't seem equally aware. He's just an idiot. And he doesn't know it. Stilly kinda funny but no as much so because it's not nearly as pathetic.

It's okay. I'll still watch. It has potential to get its own legs.

Meanwhile, Rainn Wilson is the worst part of the show. He's wayyy too much over the top to make it work. The only guy, in fact, who looks like he's intentionally acting. Ugh.
posted by diastematic at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2005

D/l ed the first episode last week cause I was curious. It was terrible. I shut it off after 15 minutes. It might have been funny had I not seen the original, but probably not. They're virtually working from the same script! I figured it would be BASED on the original, not the exact same thing with different (worse) actors.
posted by Edible Energy at 11:45 AM on March 31, 2005

I couldn't ever get past the Brit accents in the original so I never watched.

This attitude absolutely baffles and exasperates me. It's not like Gervais and co had one of our more "difficult" regional accents. Jesus Christ, why is it I never hear a Brit complaining that he "can't get past" the accents and terminology on American shows, yet I've often seen this sort of comment from Americans? Way to trash the "insular Yank" stereotype. Well, you know what? In this case (and many others), it was your loss - as you can probably tell from reading the comments of your compatriots.
posted by Decani at 12:02 PM on March 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

We're halfway there.

The best thing an American network could have done was simply run the original show, unadulterated.

The worst thing they could have done was do a remake with horrible writing and a laugh track, i.e., "Coupling".

So I give NBC credit for keeping Gervais and Co. linked to the show and writing for it (at least the pilot), and trying to keep most of the original spirit.

That said, I throw my hands up. Why can't they just take good TV and put it on. Are mass audiences too dim for foreign comedies without a laugh track?
posted by 4midori at 12:35 PM on March 31, 2005

sad otter, diastematic , you nailed it. When he's not so over the top, its more chaotic and real, and surprisingly funny (for us "unexperienced" in The Office). Diastematic, that's right, when he seemed to notice for the first time he might be wrong, that gets interesting as he has to pull a rabbit out of the hat. But generally his idiot routine would get old if he doesn't allow those kinks in the armor to show.
posted by uni verse at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2005

Some people are good with accents and some people have a hard time understanding. Mocking the latter group is pretty low.
posted by smackfu at 2:07 PM on March 31, 2005

Why can't they just take good TV and put it on. Are mass audiences too dim for foreign comedies without a laugh track?

It's been said before, but there's only 12 original episodes (plus the special) and there won't be any more. It's not worth it for NBC to buy and promote a show for half a season.

In addition, those episodes are a very inconvenient length, almost exactly 30 minutes without commercials. Do you cut them to 22 minutes like a normal sitcom, or figure out some way to pad them to an hour? Either way will leave people unhappy.

It could have been put on PBS, but they don't have any money.
posted by smackfu at 2:12 PM on March 31, 2005

I have not seen the original. I watched the first 20 minutes as I'm a Steve Carrell fan. He's been fantastically funny on The Daily Show.

But I stopped watching The Office before the end because I do not like humor that makes the viewer uncomfortable. I have no problem with it, it just ain't my bag.

I prefer mean-spirited humor (House) or humor that flatters me because I Get It (Eddie Izzard.) Good luck to Steve C and The Office. I won't be watching it.
posted by dah_sab at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2005

I couldn't even get through the accents in the Monty Python TV shows and a couple of the movies.
posted by mischief at 2:51 PM on March 31, 2005

Never seen the Brit original. The American version -- it's almost too true to life. Hilarious, but painful.
posted by orthogonality at 3:05 PM on March 31, 2005

I thought it was great. Awful, uncomfortable, and sometimes cringe-worthy, but great.
posted by Samsonov14 at 5:58 PM on March 31, 2005

I couldn't even get through the accents in the Monty Python TV shows and a couple of the movies.

You couldn't 'get through' the accents? What does that even mean? I mean, you're a native speaker of the English language, right? You can understand the words which are being spoken? What else do you want?
posted by Soulfather at 8:37 PM on March 31, 2005

I agree with diastematic too.

I'll add that they missed the central, and key factor of the original, and the show lives or dies by it:

That the David Brent character is not totally a caricature- he's an idiot, to be sure, but many of his methods of self-delusion are techniques we've all been guilty of. That's what makes it so compelling, and sometimes awful, to watch.

I watched the first 3 episodes of the original by myself, alone, when my wife was out of town. I don't reccomend this. After 90 minutes, I was filled with just the type of self-awareness that one shouldn't ever be saddled with. Took a few hours to wear off. I almost ceased speaking, because everything out of my mouth seemed to have a tinge of bullshit about it.

But that's the single best part of the show- when Gervais plays his guitar, he's not THAT bad. He just thinks he's much better than he is. Brent's single driving motivation seems to constantly be that he has to constantly shoehorn the world into his picture/version of it, with him coming out on top. His evasive techniques when that starts to fail provides some of the best moments on the show.

Favorite moment (if I had to choose)- near the end of the christmas special, when he tells the large woman that he had a blind date and he was worried that it was her, and then looks at the camera and has nothing to say. For a long time.


IMHO Steve Carell just doesn't have it. He's playing an american version of a clueless boss. I love him on the daily show, but he's totally wrong in this. It also wasn't helped by the fact that the first episode was a line by line, shot by shot and gesture by gesture (actingwise) duplicate of the origina. Really weird choice it seems to me. Watching the Tim analogue try all the facial tics that made Martin Freeman's version so charming was just annoying

Finally, soulfather and sixpack, a note about the language/accents thing. I grew up on Monty Python and usually have no problem with accents, but on my wife's reccomendation, I turned on subtitles (blaspheme!) on the DVD while we watched the office. Amazingly, it turns out I was missing a good 20% of the subtlety. They are speaking english, but many of the little quick asides were just too quick for me to parse. (sorry to go on so long)
posted by asavage at 9:41 PM on March 31, 2005

I haven't seen the original, although I like watching British shows. I saw the Diversity Training episode and it made me cringe, too. The boss reminded me of people I've actually worked with, so I guess that's good... for the show!
posted by halonine at 10:03 PM on March 31, 2005

I've also not seen the original. I had high hopes for this, assuming it would be sort of a live-action Dilbert. No such luck. I watched for 15 mins without even cracking a smile, and got up and left the room.

Yet my wife and 21-year-old son thought it was pretty good. Go figure.
posted by Mur at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2005

« Older Larry Clark: Punk Picasso   |   She's dead, Jim. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments