Saturday, February 7, 2009

THE OFFICE


OFFICE vs OFFICE


There was a time when I thought that the British version of THE OFFICE was the absolute best. Ricky Gervais does the best cowering, crude, self-centered, sycophant I have ever seen on television. The British version of the OFFICE was something that was untouchable in my mind.


When I heard that the Americans were revisiting The OFFICE and making their own spin on it, I fled from the concept. I steered right away from it. I wanted nothing to do with the American bastardization of something so great. Six seasons into the Americanized version of the OFFICE, I have finally lifted my stubborn head out of the rubble and watched the first American season. What has struck me about it all is something that I never expected. I also think that I am going to come off here as a bigot, but I have to lay the cards down now: American Office > British Office. Ricky Gervais started it, but the Americans have definitely finished it.


My issue with the British version of the OFFICE was the rampant misogyny. It was really out of control. The point of all of the anti-woman offense was to make the viewer cringe, and this was successful. However, the depth of the characters in the British version was lacking. The British version was basically a mini-series: two seasons and a Christmas special. Obviously, the American version has gone far beyond the original template, and from what I have heard from others, the quality of humor doesn't slacken. The American version has toned down the misogyny and gone more into the lousiness of office politics. This turn of plotting events gives the American version more teeth than the British version ever had.


Don't get me wrong, Ricky Gervais is a funny man. His office manager routine had me laughing and wincing simultaneously. But I must say that Steve Carrell brings a level of humanity to the quotient that Gervais does not. Carrell's character is plausible. Gervais' is not. Both of these people act out a level of incompetence that is staggering, however it seems that Carrell's act is geared for the long haul. This is a character that could last for 6 seasons or more. Gervais created a supernova character that was fizzling and out of elbow room towards the end. The vision for the British version was short. The American version is long-term. They have both been successful with their missions. Now I am a believer in the Americanized version, I wish I hadn't waited so long.


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