The Office USA

Hmmmmmm. NBC is re-making the seminal Britcom The Office, and they’ve just put a preview on their web site.

You can certainly tell it’s The Office, and I don’t think anybody who’s ever seen the original would look upon it favourably. But who knows, there could be a huge potential audience out there who haven’t seen it and enjoy it.

And I assume that’s why American TV networks have a long history of re-making other countries’ TV shows: even if the original has aired on PBS or BBC America, the bulk of the population still won’t have seen it. And maybe they think the audience is insular enough that it has to be re-done with American actors?

Sometimes it works. Steptoe & Son became Sanford & Son. Till Death Us Do Part became All In The Family.

Sometimes it flops. Red Dwarf’s US remake was woeful, and never got beyond a pilot. Men Behaving Badly was brilliant, but its remake didn’t last long. The US Coupling got panned, too.

Hmm, maybe they should try re-making some Australian shows? Like, maybe Skippy but with a squirrel instead of a roo?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “The Office USA”

I’ve seen the original via BBC America. It wasn’t entirely bad. Judging by the clip on NBC, this is going to be yet another piece of godafwul, banal, unimaginative, so-called corporate “entertainment”.

Oh….my…god….. That is shocking! They couldn’t even get some new gags! Please, someone gauge out my eyes to end the suffering! Scary thing is, in a couple of years most of the world will believe it started in America, and the UK ripped them off.

I tried, a couple of times to watch The Office. I love British tv shows usually, but I just did not get The Office at all. It seemed slow, unfunny, no dramatic tension, no irony, and all very obvious.Boring. I think it first started here in Oz about the same time as the very brilliant The Royle Family.

I think appreciation of The Office comes from working in one, and encountering those sorts of people. Dunno if you ever have Andrew, but for some people, it’s extremely funny. Hmm I might add that sometimes it’s almost painfully realistic.

The real Office is a masterpiece, hence its numerous awards. An American facsimile with exactly the same content will probably fail because American office culture is different to British office culture. The Office appeals and is understood mainly by a British audience because it is intrinsically British. Anyone who says the Office “wasn’t entirely bad” because it wasn’t immediate, in-your-face, ‘easy’ humour, has missed the point. It takes multiple viewings to really get into the characters and the life of the Office.

As to “It seemed slow, unfunny, no dramatic tension, no irony, and all very obvious” – you are totally missing the point. Andrew, I am glad you have such a keen grasp on British office culture that it was all ‘so obvious’ to you – maybe you haven’t dug deeper into the nuggets it contains – then again if you found The Royle Family funny you do have a good grasp of British culture in general – congratulations. I can’t believe (if you watched the entire two series and the Christmas editions of The Office) that you found no dramatic tension or irony at all – my guess is you didn’t watch them all)

Observational comedy is something I believe Britain does well – but it’s not all completely obvious and it’s certainly not always funny all of the time. Some of our best writers have a knack of putting in the bittersweet twists that somehow mix comedy with sadness or genuine human sentiment, and make it work. Just look at elements of ‘Four Weddings’, ‘One Foot in the Grave’, ‘The Fast Show’, ‘The Office’, ‘The Royle Family’, “Vicar of Dibley” and many more. If you only expect, or demand, your comedy to be “funny” you miss out on a lot of other experiences that comedy allows to the surface.

Topical case in point: “The Vicar of Dibley” poignantly brought “Make Poverty History” to a UK audience this Christmas.

The original office is a materpiece, this looks rubbish. Words can’t describe how bad infact. It started in the UK (not Australia) by Ricky Gervis who is doing another series called “The Extra” which is out in the UK this July. So if you liked the office check that out. Also no irony? Are you mad? ok I’ll not go on.

Watched the first and second episodes last week. Admittedly I am a mad fan of the UK version, but that was the worst pile of drivel I have seen in years. Sadly, Gervais and Merchant had a part to play in it too!

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