Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

The Office, US style

Okay, I give them credit - they chose the PERFECT boss. The set and look and feel are familiar, and the cast seems to have that same general malaise.

They do the "stapler in the jello" scene - that will be the telling point.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 15th, 2005
While I think Steve Carell was an excellent choice for the role, I don't think he conveys the desire to buddy-buddy with his employees that was so fundamental to the BBC character. Ricky Gervais nailed that aspect of it.

On the other hand, I'm trying very hard to judge this thing on its own merits, despite the pilot being a direct transcription of the BBC pilot for the U.S. aesthetic. Maybe Carell is trying to distinguish his performance as more hapless than obnoxious.

Succeed or (likely) fail, this will be an interesting experiment.
Permalink Tail of the "g" 
March 15th, 2005
Has this started already? I thought it starts next Thursday?
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 15th, 2005
Which channel, what time?

JD
Permalink JD 
March 15th, 2005
4, after The Apprentice. I don't think it's a coincidence.

(Yes, I realize I'm not answering your question.)
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 15th, 2005
Americans screw up any british show we do. We don't have the same sense of humor and we are so censored we can't do anything fun. I give it less than complete season before it goes away.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 16th, 2005
Part of the problem is that a normal american season is 20+ episodes - a normal UK series 6. The Office had a typical run - 2 series of 6 episodes plus 2 Christmas specials.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
March 16th, 2005
I'd just be surprised if it managed to get out of an American TV development meeting without a laugh track being added. "What do you mean, it doesn't have a laugh track? It's a -sitcom-!"
Permalink Snark 
March 16th, 2005
How about a sitcom about a woman whose husband has terminal cancer, who promptly tells everyone he's dead and sets out to find his replacement setting her sights on the nice man married to the wheelchair -bound woman across the road with MS...played by the woman who wrote it?
(It's called "Nighty Night" BTW)
Permalink a cynic writes... 
March 16th, 2005
Or the fat slob dope dealer sitting in a mouldering midden.

It's called Ideal.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 16th, 2005
Just remember how butchered the US version of Coupling was -- by NBC, on Thursday nights -- and that's probably incentive enough not to watch them re-butcher another British comedy goldmine.
Permalink Brad Wilson 
March 16th, 2005
Simon - or any part of "Little Britain" whatsoever including the Tom Baker voice-over...
Permalink a cynic writes... 
March 16th, 2005
Ooh--I'm thinking "Black Adder" with U.S. history. Like set in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, etc. Would it fly--or would it be like stacking "Hogan's Heroes" vs. "'Allo, 'Allo"?
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
March 16th, 2005
1. The US version of "Coupling" was butchered because the central theme of "Coupling" -- guys and girls and their relationships and how sex affects that -- is NOT a theme the US is comfortable with.

I saw the BBC version, and it was hilarious in that British, "oh you can't say that, oh you just did, NOW what are you going to do with the embarassment" kind of way. In the US, I don't think we'd be embarassed, which removes some of the humor. In addition, in the US we're not allowed to say some of those things on-air.

Thus the butchering. "The Office" may translate better -- although I suspect its humor has a large dose of the "embarassment" factor in it as well. Here we're more Dilbert in the office -- we have a clueless boss who doesn't care (too much) what he puts us through. The Office boss wants to be liked, as I understand it.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 16th, 2005
Allan, you said "In the US, I don't think we'd be embarassed". Can you expand a little more about what you mean? I guess you are saying social reactions to certain things are different in America, and I'd like to understand how you mean.
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 16th, 2005
There's a classic scene in the UK "Coupling" where they're all at dinner and Susan asks about a movie rental named "Lesbian Spank Inferno" - the guys put in a heroic attempt to defend the video as an artistic examination of sexual beauty.

"The plot of Lesbian spank inferno?
Well, there is these five lesbian film makers who decide to hold a competion to see who can make the best.. er art film. So they show each other the films and the loser gets err... spanked."

"They all get spanked in that one don't they"

"Err thats right they decide that to spank just one is discrimatory, so they decide they... all... need a.... spanking..."

"You've been watching porn again haven't you?"

"Oh god yes I am so sorry!!!!"

Of course, in the current climate, they couldn't even freaking SAY "lesbian spank inferno" but more to the point very few producers have the understanding of subtlety to be able to put up with this kind of dialog.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 16th, 2005
Thanks, Philo, I couldn't come up with a detailed example for the life of me.

And I remember seeing that episode. The humor mostly came from the wry, assertive way the girlfriend kept insisting on teasing out more and more detail, and the flustered, squirmy way the boyfriend kept admitting more and more.

So the boyfriend's embarassment, and the girlfriend's prolonging it and deepening it, without descending into actual cruelty or sarcasm, was the fine edge the British do very well, that I don't think American actors and directors can pull off very well. Not without a British accent, anyway.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 16th, 2005
"NOT a theme the US is comfortable with"

Now I know why Sex and the City was such a big failure in the ratings.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 16th, 2005
> "The plot of Lesbian spank inferno?

Excellent episode. Coupling has some of the best dialogue of any show. I wish we would get the new ones in the US.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 16th, 2005
'in the current climate, they couldn't even freaking SAY "lesbian spank inferno"'

I guess this is why Howard Stern's show has no listeners and is terribly unpopular.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 16th, 2005
Uh, Rich - you *are* aware that Stern is moving to Sirius Satellite Radio because ClearChannel has muzzled him, right?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 16th, 2005
ClearChannel got sick of paying the FCC fines IIRC. Dosen't chaange the fact that he has one of the most popular radio shows in america and hundreds of thousands of people are signing up for Sirius just to hear the man speak about lesbians in detail.

Very different from the picture being portrayed that Americans are 'not ready' to hear about lesbians.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 16th, 2005
How is it that FCC censorship of broadcast TV and radio doesn't infringe the right to freedom of expression?
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 17th, 2005
The FCC is based on "community standards" people have to complain before they do anything. And even though it's been shown that a tiny minority generates the vast majority of complaints (like a handful of people writing dozens of letters), they do follow up and flex their muscles from time to time.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 17th, 2005
http://myspace.com/theoffice
Permalink Anon 
March 17th, 2005
> a large dose of the "embarassment" factor

More of a cring factor than anything, when the boss is the central character in the scene. Disbelief when the young lad is the central character (what was his name again? The one who wonders if there will ever be a boy born who can swim faster than a shark).
Permalink  
March 17th, 2005
For those who missed it, the pilot can be downloaded from the eDonkey network:

ed2k://|file|The%20Office%20-%20An%20American%20Workplace%20-%20Pilot%20Ep.avi|324077920|E7C2BFA37F8EDE1037B23360D9D82317|/
Permalink Ralph 
March 19th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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