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The Office — British vs. US versions

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by dawgpounddiehard, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Thanks to a vicious snow storm (check local listings) I was able to watch the British "Office" and I found it very, VERY funny. It was well done.

    But I also find the US version equally as funny. I know I've seen discussions on here that one is better than the other, but really, there wasn't much I liked one over the other.

    What I do like about the US version, while the characters are just as moronic, there are times where people like Michael and Dwight are shown doing their job and doing it well. The Michael Scott of the British version, David Brent, was more about feeling compassion for the guy rather than laughing at him.

    But that's nit-picky. Both versions have given me plenty of laugh out loud moments. Great stuff.
  2. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I think that the people on the British version, as a whole, seem more real than the American counterparts, especially David and Gareth vs. Michael and Dwight. Everyone on the BBC show has a sense of sadness that they are wasting their life, which only comes out in the US version at certain times. It seems more realistic than the US version and more consistently funny.

    Having said that, I think that Jim/Pam is way better written and acted than Tim/Dawn and many of the surrounding US bit players (Angela, Stanley) are better than those in the U.K.
  3. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    I like them both, for different reasons. Webster hit the nail on the head with the "sense of sadness" bit. Most of the characters in the BBC version really were losers...Tim was obviously just wasting his life. So was Dawn. You don't get the feeling that Jim and Pam are wasting their lives...they're kind of tounge in cheek about it. David Brent was a much more pathetic character than Michael Scott...so was Gareth/Dwight.
    The fact that the characters were so different kept me from getting into the American version right away...it just looked like they were re-making the show with a better-looking, younger cast. But they've developed their own niche....
  4. DisembodiedOwlHead

    DisembodiedOwlHead Active Member

    You're hitting at the cultural differences in expectations in the two countries. The US attitude is that there's going to be a happy ending somehow. The British expect to fall on their ass in the mud.

    Also, maybe somebody in London feels the inverse of you -- that the Americans seem more "real" than the British.
  5. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    there's also the difference in expectations of qunatity for both sides - there's what, two six-episode seasons of the britsh version? that's half of a us season, and the us version is on season three (with a truncated first season)

    i like both, but like the american version better
  6. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    They're quite different but Ricky Gervais is flat out brilliant.

    It's 1A and 1B.
  7. Jim Tom Pinch

    Jim Tom Pinch Active Member

    I think it's kind of like Law & Order vs. Law & Order SVU. Stemmed from the same place, but branched differently. Both worth watching.
  8. ifilus

    ifilus Well-Known Member

    Here's what the world's smartest man thinks:

    A quick observation comparing two versions of The Office
    By Ken Jennings

    An ironclad rule of the BBC The Office, according to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Marchant: the hand-held camera would never, ever, lead the action. The camera always has to follow the action, as if a real documentary cameraman is being constantly surprised by unscripted behavior.

    The American version, though, violates this all the time. The camera will routinely whip around the room in time to pick out three or four comedy beats in quick succession. It looks rehearsed, and if you think about it, it moves beyond “rehearsed” into “contrived.” In one of my favorite episodes, “Conflict Resolution” from Season 2, the camera whip-pans onto Jim just in time to see him mouth the words “That’s what she said!” to match Steve Carell’s delivery of the line, and then zips 90 degrees back to the first speaker. Wow, that was one alert camera operator! He can pick out unspoken bits of business from halfway across the room, the exact second they’re developing.

    Has this ever been commented on? Once you’ve noticed it, it stands out as a pretty big surrender to the kind of jokiness and buffoonery that–I hate to say it–marks the U.S. version sometimes. Much as I love Dunder Mifflin, it hasn’t really replaced Wernham Hogg in my heart of hearts.
  9. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    I don't think there's anything that gets me hotter than if you ask someone if they're watching "The Office" and they say, "I only watch the British one." It's the 2007 equivalent of saying you only listen to vinyl or visit art houses to watch black and white foreign films (without the subtitles.)

    Both are totally different shows and that's because they have to be. Working in a British office is very different from working in an American office. Our two senses of humor toward working are different.

    Where each series excels (and overlaps) is the ability to portray a very human side of their characters. I don't know any guy who has never been in Jim's shoes ... watching as "the girl" went out with someone that was obviously not suited for them. And while Michael's character may be over the top at times, he exhibits a very common need to be liked and respected. I think it's hard not to relate to most of the characters on either show.
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Both shows are very good, but whenever I hear someone talking about "The Office" I have to stop and ask, "Which version? British or American?"

    They should've named the versions differently to avoid confusing them — like "The Office USA" or somesuch.
  11. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I agree that in this British series, the documentary camera was a charachter. David played to the camera a lot. In the US series, it usually doesn't serve a purpose except for the talking head shots. I remember reading somewhere recently that Gervais acted as if David thought that the documentary would make him a star and never failed to ham it up. By contrast, the producer of the US office said that Carell's Michael believed that if Jennifer Aniston saw the documentary, she would want to date him.
  12. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    That's a great way to explain Michael.
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