Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Under 30 Blog's Totally Random Fall TV Season Review: Gearing up for "The Office"

I like TV. I know it's cool to be one of those people who doesn't like TV, and maybe I should be climbing mountains and jumping out of airplanes instead of curling up in front of the tube with my "Deadwood" DVDs. Actually, no, there's no way I should be doing anything else.

Armed with only an overstocked DVR, I am trying to catch the best shows of the fall season. Obviously this is not a comprehensive method but I'm just one man, people.

At the risk of sounding like a total girl, I'm pretty excited to see what happens to Jim and Pam tonight on "The Office." The last we saw Jim kissed Pam and admitted his feelings for her. A pretty typical sitcom moment, sure, but the characters are so likable and the arc of their relationship is so well-drawn that the kiss transcended TV cliche to become genuinely memrobable. Yep, I really sound like a girl.

Unless Carell and company really blow it, this ought to be the breakout season for "The Office." The show became a hit last year after struggling in the early going, but after winning the best comedy Emmy and Carell's growing success in movies with "Little Miss Sunshine" (which I haven't seen despite every single person I know saying it's funny), "The Office" appears poised for "Seinfeld"/"Cheers" success.

To whet your appetite for the season premiere, here's an interesting story from Slate about how the original British "Office" has inspired spin-offs in a number of different countries. Writer Liesl Schillinger likes the American version best, as do I, and he/she perfectly sums up why.

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.

I'd like to add that the American version also boasts the very foxy Jenna Fischer, the receptionist of my dreams.


Blogger paul said...

Dude, I totally dig that show and that pair of characters too.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Thomas Roz said...

"Scrantonicity." You know that's one of the greatest television sitcom jokes of all time, don't you?

3:43 PM  

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