February 12, 2008

The Office vs. The Office

I've seen all 12 episodes of the original, BBC version of The Office, all of what was made besides the 2-hour special that came out after the series ended, and I've seen about 85-90% of the episodes of the American version. The American version is probably one of my favorite shows to date. Pity only half of this season's episodes have been made.

Pretty much everyone knows that the American version was based on the UK version, and the pilot for the American was created directly from an episode of the British. Despite their similarities, the shows are immensely different.

First off, the British wit of the UK version of the Office is what I would typically expect from the Britons: dry. There were plenty of times when I wasn't even sure if I was supposed to laugh at something. A lot of the punchlines are muttered and if you aren't paying close attention, you might miss something. On the other hand, the NBC version is mostly up-front jokes, obviously because the Brits are a much smarter breed than us.

The UK version and the American version (first three seasons) more or less have the same storyline. The UK version is about 40 episodes less however. This comes at the expense of side character development (where are the Creeds and Stanleys of the BBC version) and pop-culture references. These are some of the most important aspects of the American Office.

The UK version is much more awkward, and in a way, painful. The boss, David Brent played by Ricky Gervais is incredibly lost. Much like Michael Scott in the American version, he is offensive to almost everyone and yet totally unaware of it. David Brent though, is almost never lovable like Steve Carrell's character. Most of the time I wanted to punch him in the face, to put him out of his misery and to spare the sanity of everyone else.

Garreth Keenan, the British equivalent of Dwight Schrute is pretty hilarious.
I guess he's a more believable character than Dwight. I mean, I don't think a person like Dwight exists, at least not as a part of the work force. Garreth's sexual innuendos lack any innuendo. He is blatant and stupid and the result if pure comedy. One instance is at the bar one night after work. Garreth has been making out with some woman all night, and eventually he asks who the chap is theat's been staring at them the whole time. The woman says it's her husband and they want to bring Garreth home. Garreth's response is pure gold and I will paraphrase: "No way. Maybe if it were two women but definitely not two guys." GENIUS!And that smirk that David Brent has on his face the whole time is pretty creepy.

The American Office has one vitally important thing that the British Office doesn't: Jenna Fischer. Sorry UK, Dawn is gross. Pam is hot.

If I had to pick one, my completely biased decision would be the American version, but that might just be because that's the one I watched first and came to love.

You can read all about the history of the show on Wikipedia.


luckyhole said...

I put the captions on when I watched the British series, because, like you, I was missing some of the ultra-quick snaps or culture references. I found it to be a much more pleasant experience.

The American Office is definitely more LOL, straight-forward, goofy, drop-kicky type stuff. In the British version, you really get that absolutely gut-wrenching second-hand embarrassment from David -- something that lacks in the American version. Hell -- there are probably more parties in Michael Scott's office than there are episodes of the UK version.

While I was watching the BBC show, I declared to like it more than NBC's. Now I stand in the middle. They're both so good but very different, it's almost impossible to compare. But you've done a good job here.

Mike said...

the office will never, ever get old. the best american episodes are unmatched in TV for pure comedy.

i have never laughed as hard for so long as when we watched season 2 of the show in stitt's room one night. that sealed the deal for me.