June 22, 2005

Horse 361 - The Office

Channel 10 are shouting from the rooftops about their new comedy The Office, saying that it breaks new ground in comedy. What they don't tell you is that this series (already shown of Fox 8) is a remake, and a poor one at that.

The British show (made by the BBC and seen here on the ABC) is set in Slough, England, in a small branch of the fictitious paper company Wernham Hogg. The office is managed by David Brent along with his assistant Gareth, a lieutenant in the Territorial Army. Much of the comedic success of the series stems from David, who tries to be his employees' best friend even as he is an office tyrant.

David's character flaws are used to comic effect, including numerous verbal gaffes, unconscious racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. The British show has no laugh track, and is designed to resemble a fly-on-the-wall documentary (mostly because when it began, the show's budget was skimpy - as is typical from the Beeb).

Other office denizens include the unassuming Tim, whose flirtation with bored receptionist Dawn is a major arc in the series because she is engaged to warehouse worker Lee; of course a rather subdued love triangle is played out.

After the original British series won two Golden Globes, an American version of The Office was created by NBC. Though it retains the same title, the American version of the show is set in Scranton, Pennsylvania (which is equally as boring as Slough I assume). NBC has described it as a faster-paced version of the original; I describe it as crap.

The original writer Ricky Gervais said before the premiere that it would probably have actors with better teeth but this is about all it has. Gone are the subtleties of the original like the hum of lights and the awkwardness of the staff, also gone is the slimyness portrayed by the boss, replaced by American brash cynicism which just makes this look like any other sitcom.

So then Channel 10, it looks like you've bought a failure... pity really.

1 comment:

Katja said...

Sitcoms have gone down the tube, which is why I never bother to watch them. TV hasn't even been around that long, but they have already used up all the possible jokes and ideas and there's nothing they can do about it except make stupid reality shows and re-makes (Kojack...you CANNOT re-make the Man!)

And I prefer the British teeth.