Thursday, June 23, 2005

The American version of "The Office" - what's your view?

There is no doubt in my mind that the BBC comedy, The Office is one of the great television comedies ever made. From conversations I have had with many people, opinions on the show appear to fall into either a love, or hate basket. Interestingly, the reasons for loving it or hating it appear to be the same .. David Brent, the main character who embodies all that is sad and pathetic in an office manager, is excrutiating to watch. Love or hate its comedy, no one can doubt the show is very insightful, cleverly written and beautifully produced.

So the question is: why then do the Americans feel a need to remake this classic ? In my opinion, this reflects much of what is saddest about main stream American culture. How is it that a show that has already received so much accolade, needs to be remade in an American context, in order to have it accepted by an American audience? Sure, the BBC version has a lot of British references, and uses some slang that may require a moments thought, and yes, sometimes Finchy's accent can be a little hard to understand, but really, doesn't it just seem a little bit pathetic (and that is not to say I am at all surprised, as I am well aware this is not the first time).

.. but is the American version any good ?

Thankfully, reviews of the American version sound promising, and apparently the show does not follow the same events as the original (despite last night's version looking very much like a cheap imitation). It is also good to know that the American production team includes Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who co-wrote the original BBC version. Hopefully the yanks haven't stuffed this up, and in particular, have not sacfrificed the all important ingredient of subtlety that so often is missing in American comedy. Or is it that the subtlety in American comedy is usually just too subtle for non-American to notice :)


Anonymous desmond said...

Cant say im a big fan of it. I dont like it when they Americanise a great show so they can supposedly understand it. But that is the arrogance of America.

6/23/2005 07:30:00 PM

Blogger macca said...

I think that's part of it, but I don't know if I would go as far as to say its just about American arrogance. Even in Australia, the original version was only shown on the ABC at 10pm and I think I'm correct in saying that its very first showing was on SBS quite a while ago.
In America, the orginal was shown on cable. So I think it needs to be acknowledged that the show has always been considered to have more of a fringe audience, than a main stream one. It is also worth noting that it took the American remake of the show to finally get picked up by Australian commercial television (Ch10). Generally speaking, I think main stream Australias audiences appear to be more comfortable with American comedy than British. So I am not sure we can put it down to pure American arrogance. I think it just comes down to the fact that people are pretty conservative in their television tastes, and are more accepting of things that are more familiar to them. This, of course, is why we see such a conservative approach to main stream television production these days (which I think is the reason why Australian commercial television is at its most boring and uninspired state that I can remember).

Maybe that's why i am blogging so much now :)

6/24/2005 10:20:00 AM


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