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"The Office"

I recently made the mistake of watching the first season of "The Office" on DVD. Don't watch it if you want to maintain what precious little sanity you have left.

It's terribly depressing stuff - it's practically guaranteed to make you want to resign from your white-collar job immediately.  Unlike "Office Space" which at least features Jennifer Aniston and is funny in places, "The Office" is unrelenting misery.  The effect is kind of like reading too many Dilbert strips in one day.

That effect is deliberate - the writers set out to depict the office as an unrelentingly dull prison where dreams are killed and  one must work with people that you would ordinarilly flee from.

The truly scary part about "The Office" is that I don't think that the guy playing David Brent (the awful,  cringe-inducing boss) was actually acting...

Burninator
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

My mom and I (both avid Office fans) were trying to decide whether the show was satire or a modern form of farce.

It's definitely entertaining, and has some very funny moments, but agreed that there are also parts that will having you squirming in your chair.

BTW, if you found the first season unbearable, do NOT watch the second - it gets worse.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Funny Americans...

Yes, he is acting.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Not only is he acting - he (co-) wrote it.

A cynic writes
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Oddly enough, I'm not American - I'm Australian.

My impression that he wasn't acting comes from the bonus DVD. They included an interview with the writers, one of whom also played David Brent, as someone pointed out earlier.

Let me clarify a little: I realise, of couse, that he was playing to the camera to a certain extent and I'm certain he isn't anywhere nearly as bad as David Brent (I doubt anyone could be!). That said though, I couldn't help but get the distinct impression that David Brent's basic behaviour is the actor's own, cranked up several notches. 

I would be terrified of the prospect of working with him.

Burninator
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I find it unwatchable. It is so slow and painful.
Yet a lot of people like it. My Hero is the best!

son of parnas
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I agree with Burninator, if you see the interview on the dvd, or indeed see gervaise anywhere else on tv where he is being "himself", he really does appear to be that obnoxious.

this is a shame as,  to me the funniest thing about the office is that the David Brent character is completely self deluded and oblivious to how much of a social retard he is. If the actor is actually like that in real life then it's not so funny.

Alison, Dublin.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Saw him on Leno, he seemed like a nice enough guy. Maybe his people drugged the coffee though.

Philo, if you want to talk about this, I've added my email for ya. Look forward to hearing from you ;-)

Nigel
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I haven't seen the DVD extra features, and have only seen a couple of episodes of "The Office", but I would bet that David Brent is *still* playing his character in the extras. It's been done before, and I'd guess that's what's happening here (that's not to say that David Brent has no traits similar to his character, just that you can't tell from the extra features on the DVD of the show).

Byron
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

For those of you who did watch all of season 1 and 2, did you see the final two episodes that aired over Christmas? They really _really_ took quite a twist with David Brent's character ... and of course who can forget Tim and Dawn :)

jedidjab79
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

*** SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ***







Tim just gives up in the last episode, it's like he rediscovers his self from the 2nd to last episode of the 1st series. I mused over his "collpase" for a while. Any thoughts?

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I'm another Australian fan of The Office.

I don't think that David Brent is the actor's true persona. He was interviewed by Red Symons (774 Melbourne AM) one morning, and I remember him being a pretty funny and entertaining guest.

Andrew Lighten
Wednesday, January 21, 2004


He ought to be funny, he's a comedian. ;-)

John Ridout
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

This is the way us Brits like our comedy: the more squirm-inducing the better. (Has "Fawlty Towers" ever made it beyond our shores?) Anyway - unfortunately decent British comedy is few and far between these days. Most of us would hate to admit it, but the best stuff these days is from the States. I've always thought that it's because American producers have no qualms about employing great big teams of writers.

Duncan Smart
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I *love* Fawlty Towers ("Don't mention the war!")

As for USian comedy, actually I think the best comedy comes from shows with a good ensemble and a small writing team that the network leaves alone long enough to find their voice.
Too much of our stuff these days gets shot in the head after a half-season. :-/

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

If you weren't aware of it, the Office has been sold to a US company for development so there will be an american version.  Ricky Gervais has said though that they don't really mind what happens to it, they don't expect that much to remain intact.

There's a lot of similarity between Brent and Gervais in background but I think he uses that as a starting point.  Brent is a wannabee pop star, Gervais had one middling hit.  Gervais has had an on stage persona as a git with so much ego he doesn't notice the mayhem around him, but it is a persona.

If anyone saw the Match, where he agreed to go three rounds  of boxing with another C list celebrity (ok maybe Gervais is B list now) and saw the work he put into that they'd see some of the difference between Gervais and Brent.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

"If you weren't aware of it, the Office has been sold to a US company for development so there will be an american version."

And they're surely trash it badly like they did trying to adapt Coupling. No thanks, I'll take the original. :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

And Red Dwarf and.... and... and...

Some American's may *get* British humor, but adapting it to American TV is a completely different story.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Not sure if this is any helping in deciding whether or not Ricky Gervais is really a complete bastard

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,1106574,00.html

And don't forget "the twins"...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,787567,00.html

Slough Bloke
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Hey I loved Fawlty Towers, also Black Adder, Goodness gracious me, and of course Yes Primeminister.

Prakash S
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Oh man.  Now I *really* need to see this.  :-)

John Rose
Thursday, January 22, 2004

"Too much of our stuff these days gets shot in the head after a half-season"

Dubya puts the lie to that. He is some kind of comedy act, right?


Thursday, January 22, 2004

The reason _I_ like "Fawlty Towers" but not "The Office" is because the former is outrageously exaggerated for comic effect.

I can't imagine any bad hotel manager behaving in the way that Basil Fawlty does, running around like a madman, shrieking hysterically at everything, and the "Manuel Bashing" is pure slapstick.

By contrast, I _can_ believe somebody like Ricky Gervais works in an office and looks and acts the way he does - probably because I've met quite a few of them. They're not funny in real life (more annoying than anything else), so why would they be funny on television? I think it's probably in _response_ to people like that that I started reading "Peopleware" and the like.

I suppose Dilbert is closer in its cynicism about life, but that's only three panels, not an entire show, so it doesn't outstay its welcome.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, January 22, 2004

There was a hotelier in Cirencester who was pretty close.  He used to read out the complaints he received in writing to existing guests.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Why do British series get re-made for a US audience ? Is it really so difficult for the average American to relate to other cultures ?

David Brent represents an inflated version of all the little faults that everyone has, that's why he's so uncomfortable to watch.

The BBC has been in a period of comedy drought for a while but they seem to have got their surreal Mojo back. If you think David Brent is cringeworthy, take a look at 'Nighty Night' where the protagonist is the female equivalent. It's very funny and addictive and I keep thinking 'please make me stop watching this'. Little Britain is another one in this class.

Couch Pareto.
Friday, January 23, 2004

I'd guess they want the possibility of a long-running show; I'm assuming there's only two seasons of The Office.  Of course, they might just want to have an angsty David Brent played by Jason Alexander, or the secretary played by Pamela Anderson.

US tv is probably better than people think, if you don't get shows like the ones on HBO.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Friday, January 23, 2004

That was ambiguous.  I meant the HBO shows are very good.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Friday, January 23, 2004

Agreed that HBO has the best television available. I'm anxiously waiting to find out whether there will be a second season of Carnivale, which I enjoyed immensely.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, January 23, 2004

I'd expand that to "subscription TV" because we got quickly addicted to "Dead Like Me"

Of course, we also love "Nip/Tuck" which is on cable...

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 25, 2004

You know, I think The Office is both a farce and a satire.  Season 1 was more realistic.  Then I think season 2 went a bit over the top, having the bottom drop out under David too unrealistically.  It started out insanely hard to watch, when he was giving talks to strangers, but there were times when people just went silent at stared at things that weren't that bad.  (Maybe I was just desensitized to his character.)

As for Tim's collapse... they did weird things with him.  He broke up with his girl out of nowhere and refused the job...  Sure, there are decisions in life that just come without warning, but it just all felt rushed.

Incidentally, I heard Carnivale's coming back for season 2.  This can probably be verified somewhere.  Same with The Wire.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Sunday, January 25, 2004

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