The premiere episode introduces the boss and staff of the Dunder-Mifflin paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania in a documentary about the workplace.

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(developed for american television by), (teleplay) | 4 more credits »
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Storyline

Michael Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin, a failing paper supply firm in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Also working there are Dwight Schrute (assistant to the regional manager), Jim Halpert, a salesman and Pam Beesly, the receptionist. It is Ryan Howard's first day as a temporary worker and Michael makes a day of showing him the ropes of the office. Meanwhile, Michael's boss, Jan Levinson-Gould, visits from corporate in New York City to tell him that his branch may be downsized. Written by Anonymous

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boss | office | team | See All (3) »

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Comedy

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24 March 2005 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Trivia

Rainn Wilson was an avid viewer of the British series prior to his audition for "The Office." He originally auditioned for the role of Michael Scott, which he referred to as a "terrible [Ricky] Gervais impersonation." The casting directors preferred his audition as Dwight Schrute and cast him in that role instead. See more »

Goofs

When Roy first enters, the boom mike can be seen at the top of the screen. See more »

Quotes

Michael Scott: ...it's really beyond words. It's really incalculacable.
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Connections

Remake of The Office: Downsize (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Little Drummer Boy
Written by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati, and Harry Simeone
Performed by Rainn Wilson
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User Reviews

 
An American workplace... and it really works
16 January 2009 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

When it was first announced that NBC was going to adapt BBC hit The Office for American audiences, fans and critics feared the worst since, Showtime's Queer as Folk notwithstanding, US remakes of English shows have never been a smart move (example: Fox's fun but flimsy take on Doctor Who in 1996). Even some of the US version's cast-members (John Krasinski most famously) were uncertain regarding the program's critical and commercial success. As it turned out, those fears were unnecessary, for two good reasons: first of all, Simpsons and King of the Hill writer Greg Daniels took on the assignment of making The Office the next great American sitcom; and secondly, not only did Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais give the project their blessing, they also agreed to stay involved as executive producers and even co-wrote the pilot episode with Daniels.

Just like in the original, everything is told as if it were part of a documentary, with an unspecified camera crew following the everyday events at the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of paper company Dunder-Mifflin. The regional manager is Michael Scott (Steve Carell), a child in a grown-up's body who sees himself as the ultimate boss and entertainer, while everyone else thinks he's a huge idiot. It is mainly Michael who delivers the show's trademark straight-to-camera remarks, although a few other people do pop up too occasionally. These include Michael's assistant Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), an ambitious, obnoxious career-devotee who insists on doing everything by the book, and his nemesis, sales manager Jim Halpert (Krasinski), who repeatedly teases Dwight with some help from the office's receptionist, Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer).

Plot-wise, three major things occur: Michael greets new employee Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak, who also serves as writer and executive producer), for whom he immediately develops a vaguely homo-erotic fondness, Dwight has to deal with Jim putting his stapler in Jell-O, and Jan Levinson Gould from Corporate reveals the branch might have to face downsizing. How does Michael react to the news? He promises nothing will happen and takes advantage of the situation to pull a few "harmless" pranks, with disastrous consequences.

The plot, as any true fan must have noticed, is lifted verbatim from the BBC premiere episode, complete with "Yankified" jokes (Camilla Parker Bowles is replaced by Hillary Rodham Clinton). A lot of critics saw this as a blatant sign of weakness, calling the US version a mere knock-off of the far superior British prototype. In reality, Gervais and Merchant (who wrote both versions of the episode) did this on purpose, to see if the show's less broad sense of humor could translate well to American audiences. To everyone's delight, it translates perfectly, albeit with a few adjustments: the mood is a tad lighter than in the original (as proved by the more cheerful theme music), the characters are more likable (even Dwight, but that's all thanks to the superb Wilson), and the boss is a bit less of a pain in the ass. That last thing might also have to do with Carell's wise decision to avoid watching Gervais' celebrated performance for inspiration: he has his own style, and it has made him justifiably famous ever since (he was relatively unknown before the series went on the air).

When it comes to American television, gambles usually pay off: a show about nothing? Best sitcom ever (Seinfeld). A real-time thriller? Compulsive small-screen viewing (24). A re-imagining of one of Britain's most cherished products? The funniest show of the 21st century's first decade, alongside the equally clever and hilarious 30 Rock.


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