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BBC's "The Office"

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  • BBC's "The Office"

    I've been hearing about this originally-on-BBC series for years (David Letterman called it the funniest show on television) and finally rented it at Tower Video ($1.49 for a three-day rental) this week.

    It is that funny. If your idea of funny is limited to crotch-hits as on America's Funniest Whatever or one-line zingers as on Friends, you may not see what the big deal is. However, if you're patient and if you enjoy the humor that comes out of ironic, bizarre, and awkward situations, you're going to love this show.

    Ricky Gervais, the writer, co-director, and star is David Brent, a mid-level manager in a regional office of a paper-seller. He is determined to be a good manager, but seems to be clueless to the fact that while he strives to be seen as cool and funny and popular with his employees, what he really is is a joke.

    Good humor, though, cares about its victims, and there's a certain balance here between poking fun at the characters and sympathizing with them as each of them slogs his or her way through life doing a job none of them really believes in. As Red Skelton said, "Great humor makes you laugh until you cry," and here's where The Office scores. It's funny because it can't possibly be true, but then you realize it's funny because it is true. And then it's tragic.

    Take, for example, a scene where David Brent whips out his acoustic guitar and plays a song he wrote in his younger days, when he aspired to being a professional musician. Brent's a decent guitarist and can carry a tune, and he sings with total conviction, but while the song he sings certainly doesn't suck, it's by no means any good. That's beside the point, however, because even if it were "Layla," the fact that it's being sung by this man in this place in front of his entire staff during what's supposed to be an all-day training session led by someone else is both hilarious and heartbreaking.

    British television is something like Japanese television and completely unlike American television, in that a series is seen more as a mini-series and not intended to run forever and ever until nobody cares anymore. The Office First Series is a six-episode run with a beginning, middle, and end. It returns for a second six-episode series which is just as good as the first. There are also some Christmas specials, none of which I've taken a look at. Yet.

    As some of you know, The Office was recently introduced to American audiences with a completely different (American) cast and (American) setting, with either Mo Rocca or Steven Colbert (I can't remember which and am too lazy to look it up just now). [edit: It turns out it was yet a THIRD The Daily Show correspondent, Steve Carrell] The reviews have been good, and I've seen one episode and have to agree. Still, take a look at this original series--it's truly unlike anything I've seen before.
    Last edited by scrivener; June 4, 2005, 05:03 PM. Reason: clarified info on the new THE OFFICE
    But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)

  • #2

    Where can I find copies of the BBC version? I like NBC's version of The Office, but I really wanna see the BBC's, but I don't get BBC where I am.
    Dreaming of the sun from Canada


    • #3
      Re: BBC's "The Office"

      this was one of the first items i ever dropped in my queue. SO funny. oh man.

      i haven't seen the nbc version but if it's anything like the u.s. adaptation of "whose line is it anyway" it should still be pretty good...
      life is ok sometimes


      • #4
        Re: BBC's "The Office"

        I've seen the first season of the BBC original - haven't found the time to watch season two yet, or the "two-years-later" special. Haven't allowed myself to get hooked on the NBC version, either.

        CanadianGuy: the complete BBC version (both seasons & special) are readily available on DVD.


        • #5
          Re: BBC's "The Office"

          I got the complete BBC series at for $43. Probably could get it cheaper elsewhere, but I'm too lazy to look. I first saw it when I got it on loan from the library, then I got it again from Netflix, then I just bought it.

          Sometimes Ricky Gervais is so bad I have to turn away because I'm embarassed for him, but I can't stop listening and laughing. The special episode is funny, too. You can pretty much predict what happens in the special, but it's still really funny.

          One thing I had to do was not compare the American version to the BBC version. It was really hard to do, but once I did it, the American version became so much more enjoyable. The American version will do little "tribute"-like things to the original - like the stapler in the jello. But I think it's safe to say that if you like one, you'll like the other. Even though British comedy can be a little off (to me anyway - I tried watching "Little Britain" and I didn't think i was funny, but I can watch hours and hours and hours of AbFab), it's still very much right on.

          And don't forget, you can own a Dwight Schrute bobblehead, too! (yes, I do own one).


          • #6
            Re: BBC's "The Office"

            This show is on the Adult Swim channel. I keep forgetting it's on this channel because it's the same as the Cartoon network.