The Office - US version...

This is for all non-EC or peripheral-EC topics. We all know how much we love talking about 'The Man' but sometimes we have other interests.
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pophead2k
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Postby pophead2k » Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:24 pm

Ummm.... all I can say is that the characters are based on the same general characters as the original. Of course there will be similarities. I would highly encourage folks to at least check out the US version before dismissing it- the US characters have their own special charms. Makes me laugh, and that makes me happy.

Mechanical Grace
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Postby Mechanical Grace » Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:49 pm

I guess the mannerisms just bugged me, because it wasn't like he was "doing Tim," he was "doing" Martin Freeman, who's made something of a career on his particular hapless-looking facial expressions and physical gestures.

That said, I'm planning on getting round to the US version, and I'll probably love it. :)

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:04 pm

Mechanical Grace wrote:I guess the mannerisms just bugged me, because it wasn't like he was "doing Tim," he was "doing" Martin Freeman, who's made something of a career on his particular hapless-looking facial expressions and physical gestures.

That said, I'm planning on getting round to the US version, and I'll probably love it. :)


Yeah, that may have been the case early on, but it has evolved into a very strong comedy with its own little cast of loonies. By all means give it a second chance!

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Postby miss buenos aires » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:42 pm

Mechanical Grace wrote:I guess the mannerisms just bugged me, because it wasn't like he was "doing Tim," he was "doing" Martin Freeman, who's made something of a career on his particular hapless-looking facial expressions and physical gestures.


It must be said, and I guess I'm the one who must say it--the guy who plays Jim is hotter than Martin Freeman (who is also kind of hot), so he gets a pass from me.

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Postby Mechanical Grace » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:42 pm

Did I not just say I was gonna watch it and will probably love it?! 8) I think Steve Carrell is a scream.

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Postby RedShoes » Tue Sep 19, 2006 8:01 am

Mechanical Grace wrote:Did I not just say I was gonna watch it and will probably love it?! 8) I think Steve Carrell is a scream.


So get to it already! 8)

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Postby Mechanical Grace » Tue Sep 19, 2006 8:50 am

Ahhh, I hear the voice of someone who doesn't have kids. :roll: :)

Thursday at 8 is primo parenting time, and yes I could record it, etc., but I'm still getting round to lots of other TV I never got to see. I've never seen the Sopranos, never seen Six Feet Under, never seen Lost. I hadn't seen Arrested Development and now I own both seasons on DVD because I think it was fucking brilliant. And then there are these things called books that I like, and oh, music. And sleep. Life is short, and when you have kids that shortness is measured out not in years but in hours of the day!

That said, did I mention I'll get to it and will probably love it? I think I did...

goodbyegirl
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Postby goodbyegirl » Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:24 am

I think this is the best new sitcom since Seinfeld. I haven't made it a point to watch anything on Thursday nights since The Office came on. Steve Carell is hysterical! I'm really into Rainn Wilson's "Dwight." He is absolutely brilliant playing that character! By the way, I grew up in the Scranton PA area, which makes it all the more funnier to me with the local references!!

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Postby noiseradio » Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:49 am

I agree that Gareth is one of the best characters ever created. I'm just saying that Dwight Shrute, while similar in a few ways, is very different and is also becoming one of my favorite TV characters ever.

And I have seen that web site before, but thanks for reminding me. It's so funny.
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Postby verbal gymnastics » Wed Sep 20, 2006 5:06 am

I've seen both the US and the UK series and, difficult as it may be, you have to view the US series separately. I watched the US series and made comparisons to the UK version.

When I watched the US series a second time I enjoyed it more because I tried to not to compare characters.
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Postby BlueChair » Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:53 am

So yeah, after last night's episode I think it's safe to say they've moved well beyond the British version.
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Postby verbal gymnastics » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:10 am

The second series of the US Office is starting in the UK on ITV2 this Sunday.
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on

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Postby BlueChair » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:17 am

Cool, Series 3 just started here
This morning you've got time for a hot, home-cooked breakfast! Delicious and piping hot in only 3 microwave minutes.

alexv
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Postby alexv » Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:34 am

I like Office too, both english and american versions, although overall I like the english version better. Here's a nice article from Slate on how the show fares in different countries. What follows is from Slate:

According to legend, in Denmark during World War II, border guards would screen homecoming Danes by making them say aloud the name of the Danish dessert rødgrød med fløde—berry pudding with cream. (To approximate the sound of these words, say them while gargling and whistling.) Apparently, even the craftiest Danish-seeming German infiltrator could not pass this simple test. The Danish ear recognized its own.

I was reminded of this shibboleth recently while watching two foreign sitcoms patterned on the exultantly depressing hit BBC comedy The Office—a mockumentary chronicle of the drudgery, rivalries, and wan romances in an office headed by a blowhard slacker boss. The show, which was created in 2001 by Ricky Gervais (who plays the boss, David Brent) and Stephen Merchant, has been exported to 80 countries (as-is or dubbed) and has proved popular in most of them, including this one, where it ran on BBC America.

In France, however, the dubbed version sank like a lead ballon when it aired two years ago. But when a BBC-licensed French remake, Le Bureau, debuted on French television last month—starring the sly, puffy-faced French comedian François Berléand as the useless Gilles Triquet—critics hailed it as a succès fou. Meanwhile, a German imitator, Stromberg, in which the boss is a high-strung, homophobic alcoholic, won the German Comedy Prize's best actor award last winter for its director and star, Christoph Maria Herbst.

Why, I wondered, had the French and the Germans bothered to overhaul Gervais' comedy? For that matter, why had we? In 2004, Gervais helped midwife the Emmy-winning American take on The Office, which has made a countrywide anti-hero of Steve Carell, who plays bumbling boss Michael Scott. Why couldn't the original stand as a symbolic global office?

In all frankness, I thought I knew the answer. The American Office sends up the drab pageantry of the American cubicle ghetto—faithfully rendering what Conrad would have called "the peculiar blackness of that experience." Presumably, the British version does the same. The French and Germans, I suspected, wanted the "peculiar blackness" of their own working day similarly assaulted. Knowing what's unbearable about your own country's workplace is like knowing how to say rødgrød med fløde: a nontransferable birthright.

To the outrage of many of my British friends, I find the American version superior to its British relative. It's not that I don't like the U.K. Office, I just don't like it as much. It doesn't reflect the reality of any U.S. workplace I know. The sexism is too blatant and the inside jokes are often too, well, inside. (The DVD of the British series decodes many of these allusions: "Charlie Dimmock," in case you didn't know, is the hostess of a BBC garden show; the chant "Oggie, Oggie, Oggie, Oi, Oi, Oi!" has to do with Cornish tin miners or West Country rugby teams, depending on whom you ask.)

But, more subtly, the base-line mood of David Brent's workplace—resignation mingled with self-loathing—is unrecognizably alien to our (well, my) sensibility. In the American office, passivity mingles with rueful hopefulness: An American always believes there's something to look forward to. A Brit does not, and finds humor in that hopelessness. What truths, I wondered, might Le Bureau and Stromberg reveal about the French and German professional milieus?

The Russians like to say that a fish rots from the head, and the head of each of these offices fails in his own way. Each of them has a brown-noser sidekick—Gareth in the United Kingdom, Dwight in the United States, Joël in France, and Bert (who is derisively nicknamed "Ernie") in Germany; but each Boy Friday understands that the boss rewards applause, not industry. David Brent, Gilles Triquet, and Bernd Stromberg care only about amusing their troops. Not only do they exhibit no interest in the work that their offices are supposed to be doing, they get fed up when their employees focus on the job instead of on their antics. In Le Bureau, the only person ever visibly working is an African cleaner, who wears a vivid dashiki and saunters about the office wiping windows, shaking her head in cartoonish consternation.

But to an American viewer, a boss who fails to project at least an outward appearance of seriousness would not be credible. And, perhaps because every American thinks he or she can be the boss one day, given the right circumstances, we tend to identify with our employers. By American subconscious logic, even a stooge must have the possibility of professional growth, because who knows—one day we may be that stooge. Which may explain why Michael Scott at least tries to seem productive—as when he uses a company cruise as an occasion to give a misguided motivational lecture. His female supervisor, Jan, not only humors him (skeptically), she has been known to fool around with him when her guard is down.

Here we touch on another litmus test of international taste: romance. The bosses in all four variants have unstellar love lives. Brent and Triquet are unmarried with no visible admirers, though Triquet projects the air of a devilish former ladies' man (a cactus in the form of a cock and balls perches on his desk). Stromberg is unhappily married to a shrew who brings her Alzheimer's-afflicted father to the office. "Family and the workplace, they go together like nitro and glycerin," Stromberg says glumly; "like Baader and Meinhof. Bring them together … and kapow!" Later he feeds his addled in-law a banana. Apparently, the Germans like their rødgrød med fløde with a bitter sprinkling of schadenfreude on top.

But Americans have more of a sweet tooth. Michael Scott's single status is presented with sympathy. His childhood goal, we learned in a recent episode, was to "get married and have 100 kids, so I can have 100 friends, and no one can say 'no' to being my friend." And the writers have also granted Michael a bit of ego-sparing female attention. In last season's closer, Michael accidentally ended up on a double date—that is, on a date with two women—who seemed open (if warily) to his blundering charms.

But the heart of all but the German Offices is not the head man's love life, but the submerged passion between the engaged receptionist (Dawn/Pam/Laeti) and an appealing young drone (Tim/Jim/Paul) who doesn't have the guts to unseat her fiance. If you are fond of the British Office, you will feel warmly about Dawn and Tim, the doughy-faced, out-of-shape pair who pine for one another. In the American show, Pam and Jim are the equivalents, but, having been raised on a healthier diet than Ribena and crisps, they are far more appetizing and their love affair progresses with more conviction. In the French version, Laeti and Paul are played by gorgeous, dark-haired, full-lipped young actors who could be the incestuous brother and sister in Bertolucci's The Dreamers. But in Stromberg, erotic tension has been thrown out the door: Blond Tanja and goofy Ulf are actually dating and often duck under their desks for groping sessions. In one scene, Ulf lays his head in Tanja's lap and pulls grapes with his mouth from a cluster above his head.

Watching all four versions back-to-back is not only a strangely unmooring experience—like seeing the film Groundhog Day over and over—it's a crash course in national identity. And if any conjecture could be made about the cultural differences that these subtly contrasting programs reveal, it might be this one: These days, Germans and Americans are doing much of their living in and around their offices, while the Brits and French continue to live outside of them. Here, in broad strokes, are the chief differences. In the British version, nobody is working, nobody has a happy relationship, everyone looks terrible, and everybody is depressed. In the French version, nobody is working but even the idiots look good, and everybody seems possessed of an intriguing private life. In the German version, actual work is visibly being done, most of the staff is coupled up, and the workers never stop eating and drinking—treating the office like a kitchen with desks. Stromberg continually calls his staff "Kinder," or "children," further blurring the line between Kinder, Computer, and Küche.

While Michael Scott also sometimes calls his American office a "family," his staff knows he's the kid brother, not the father, and that if there's to be any Kinder in their lives, they're going to have to get busy with one of their fellow prairie dogs, because really—who else are they likely to meet, given the stretching parameters of the U.S. working day? We may still talk of "working like a dog," but the Russians lately have coined the expression, "to work like an American," reflecting our 24/7 on-call mentality. These days, for Americans, "home office" is not just a place, it's a state of mind. And it's perfectly reflected by our version of this global sitcom—in which work is ostensibly cared about (though skimped on), romantic tension simmers on numerous fronts, and the whole enterprise is gently inflated by a mood of eventual, possible progress in work and love—like a bowl of dough that could have used a little more yeast but is doing its best to rise. Vive la différence.

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Postby clairequilty » Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:27 pm

goodbyegirl wrote:I think this is the best new sitcom since Seinfeld. I haven't made it a point to watch anything on Thursday nights since The Office came on. Steve Carell is hysterical! I'm really into Rainn Wilson's "Dwight." He is absolutely brilliant playing that character! By the way, I grew up in the Scranton PA area, which makes it all the more funnier to me with the local references!!


Every character on the show is great. Dwight is great, but he and Michael are overt caricatures. The rest of the cast pull up the slack and ease the sitcom back into reality. Granted, their reactions to the outlandishness of Dwight and Michael are subdued, but that is integral to the suspension of disbelief that all great comedies must endure. Look at Curb, for instance. If Larry were truly perceived as annoying and pitiful as he is shown to be, he wouldn't have a wife, a career, or a TV show.

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Postby verbal gymnastics » Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:48 am

alexv wrote:Here, in broad strokes, are the chief differences. In the British version, nobody is working, nobody has a happy relationship, everyone looks terrible, and everybody is depressed.


That's because it's true to real British office life!
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on


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