A quick review of the debut season of the British "Office" after the jump:
As a longtime fan of the U.S. "Office", I figured it was about time to see how the original version stacked up to it. Nearly everything I've heard about the series suggested that it was far superior to the NBC comedy so many of us know and love (despite the latter's gradual decline in quality over the last two years). So... was it? Well, yes and no.
To start with, thus far I haven't found Ricky Gervais (or his character) nearly as funny as Steve Carrell, for one reason in particular: a lack of variety. Sure, Michael Scott was often a clueless idiot. But the ways in which he was a clueless idiot were far more inventive than the things Gervais's David Brent does. Most of the humor involving the character involves him saying something stupid while his employees sit in slack-jawed horror and sneak "yes, this guy's for real" looks at the camera. It's often very funny, but I kept wanting more scenes like the impromptu jam session in "Training" (the best episode of the season) instead of endless scenes of Brent making a fool out of himself.
I get that it's supposed to be realistic, but realism at the expense of humor just doesn't cut it. Brent is a funny creation, for sure. Now he needs some funnier things to do. Here's hoping season 2 can deliver on that count.
Fortunately, there's a lot of other stuff that fares much better: starting with Tim and Gareth. Jim and Dwight are wonderful, but I found their British counterparts even better . Arguably the funniest scene in this season comes in episode three, when Tim (with the help of receptionist Dawn) mocks Gareth using a string of double entendres that would make Tobias Funke proud. And of course, the friendship and flirtation between Tim and Dawn is every bit as perfect as that of Jim and Pam on the remake.
It's good stuff, and certainly more grounded in reality than the U.S. version. But it's not necessarily better, and it's certainly not funnier. Not yet, anyway. Still, I'm very much looking forward to the second batch of episodes. It's entirely possible that they will impress me even more than these six installments did. We'll see.
Season Grade: B+