|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The sixth and final episode of the US Office's first season is a
highlight among the six. In it, a saleswoman visits the office looking
to sell purses. Michael states that no vendors are allowed in the
office, but changes his mind when he sees the girl is attractive. He
gives her a room and is glad to give her coffee, while Dwight Schrute
also becomes attracted to her. Dwight tells the audience that she stood
out because of her "amazing breasts"- which, he assures us humorously,
is for any "thirsty babies" they may have, and not for him. Dwight
becomes concerned when he learns Michael has offered to take the girl
home, but in the end the saleswoman hooks up with someone else in The
The episode provided amusing hopeless crushes and Jenna Fischer is as usual good in this episode. Michael's rambling about how he has to break down barriers to talk with people was also interesting. Altogether, this was a funny episode.
Most people argue that the first season of the Americanized Office was
too similar to the British original (and it certainly applies to the
pilot episode, which was co-written by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
and US developer Greg Daniels), most notably in the number of episodes
in the first season: just six, like a standard UK sitcom. However, the
reduced episode order was probably due to simple caution on the part of
NBC, who wanted to check if American audiences would respond to the
series before requesting a standard-length season.
Funny coincidences aside, Hot Girl is a very amusing season finale, in which most of the male staff go "crazy" when an attractive saleswoman (Amy Adams) shows up in the Dunder Mifflin building. Michael and Dwight make fools of themselves immediately, Roy makes an inappropriate comment in Pam's presence and Jim... well, he doesn't have any problems, really.
While not exactly setting up a second season, Hot Girl works admirably as a finale, reminding us why The Office is such a terrific show with some priceless displays of awkward comedy (anything Dwight says) and pure laughs (Ryan washing Michael's car: genius). A frustratingly short first year, no doubt, but with hindsight a juicy appetizer for what came next: one of the greatest comedy shows on television.
A small branch of a stationary company in Pennsylvania is facing
possible closure and redundancies and the staff aren't given a great
deal of hope by having a bluffing clown of a boss in Michael Scott a
man who wants to be popular more than a boss. As office politics play a
part, the staff try to deal with this hanging over their heads as well
as the usual ongoing petty nonsense that is part of any office life.
Adapting what is really a very British sitcom to be suitable for American tastes was never going to be easy and the first season of this show (which has grown in popularity) shows the problems right away. Season 1 is, for the most part, a straight reproduction of the original in terms of some of the stories but also very much the painful awkward feel of the whole thing. What this achieves is a quite funny sitcom because the material is pretty good but it falls down quite badly when it comes to the more painful part of the material which in the UK original was essentially the show. We all remember the original as hilarious but the truth is that much of it was funny while being unbearably awkward. This worked so well because the characters so totally sold it as real and you felt them dying inside as well as seeing them act awkward at that moment.
Here we have the conflicting aims of comedy and pain and the two don't sit well together. I got the sense that the US makers felt they wanted to do the UK version but that at the same time had a different vision for the show based on the US audience and also the different structure of the show (after all, the UK one was about 12 episodes total not quite what the US networks expect from their shows). Perhaps it is better if you have never seen the original but the conflict can be seen in many areas but most noticeably in two key characters - Brent/Scott and Jim/Tim. Scott is very much a comedian who tries too hard and frequently falls flat, looking trapped by his own attempts at being "cool. Brent was similar but his character was much more convincing and real a tiny man who one feels terrible pity for. Likewise Tim's pain and sense of being overwhelmed by the pointlessness of it all was palatable whereas Jim is far too perky and seems to be wearing it reasonably well.
Again this may be part of the longer game-plan as the development of characters over longer US seasons would be difficult if they arrived fully formed but it does the actors a bit of a disservice in this first season. Don't get me wrong though, the first season is still funny even when it comes over as a bit of a lesser copy, it does still generate laughs and awkwardness. However it is best when it is creating new material totally and worrying less about getting everything the same as the UK original. This is encouraging because, with 4 or 5 seasons now made, it is clear that it must have become its own master now given how little source material there is. Here though it must be said that it is impossible to avoid the US/UK comparison because it is writ large across almost all of the six episodes and, in attempting the same thing, the US version does fall short of the mark this is not protectionist sentiment, just the way it is.
The cast struggle by comparison because of the similarity. I think everyone is good enough to be able to raise their game when the show settles in but in this first season it is hard to avoid the sense of the cast not "getting it" in the way the original did. Again, I add the caveat of the longer game plan and the "pilot" nature of the first season but I cannot help say that Carell (who I like) is just not as good as Gervias at the pained stuff. He is at his best as the foolish clown but he cannot nail the inner emptiness and pathos that is what we all remember Brent for. Sadly the material makes this weakness more apparent. Wilson is a solid turn but again doesn't compare with the original. Krasinski offers more of a US sitcom role and I think will be good at this but again he struggles with trying to fit into the reproduced material while also having a less developed character. The only person of the whole cast who really nails the pained thing is Fischer as I totally believed the small deaths she suffered with every day in the office she is excellent here.
Season 1 is generally funny and, if I had not seen the original then I would probably have liked it more. However it stays too close to the original, suffering by comparison and also never finding its own voice or direction. I think the potential is there though and will follow this with season 2 to see where it goes and what it does when it has to start to find its own way.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|