Plot Summary: The story of an office that faces closure when the company decides to downsize its branches. A documentary film crew follow staff and the manager Brent as they continue their daily lives.
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman and Mackenzie Crook
Serious Jest: (Queue It) The first episode of this series runs a very close parallel to the U.S. version (noting, of course, that the U.K. series came first). However, if you stick with it, you will be pleased to find different (I would call them “fresh” or “new,” but as we’ve already established…) storylines. Timing is everything in comedy, and with only 14 total episodes in the whole run, BBC did a great job of maintaining the same quality of humor (getting better, even), and concluding before the show jumped the shark (which does not seem to be the case with NBC, so far). Also, where the American series gets extremely exaggerated, the U.K. series actually stays within the outer boundaries of believable (most of the time). Admittedly, I do not identify as much with British humor as American, but many of these situations are universally funny, even if buried within weird mannerisms, cheeky tone, and tough-to-understand accents (watch with closed captions!). *Punching our British readers in the arm; “Right Right!”* Last, but not least, while some of the characters parallel each other in the British and American versions, there are different spins on them in each version, which are cool to observe. Below is my comparison of a few of the parallel characters (see if you agree):
David (U.K.) vs. Michael (U.S.): Gervais plays a chubby, unattractive, clumsy version of Steve Carrell‘s meticulously-put-together idiot savant; Michael gets away with ridiculous situations because of his unorthodox success, whereas David only achieves adequate results, and therefore quickly gets called on his mistakes by upper management. It is refreshing to see David get slapped down for stuff you know Michael would probably have gotten away with.
Tim (U.K.) vs. Jim (U.S.): I prefer Jim…hands down. Tim tries a little too hard.
Gareth (U.K.) vs. Dwight (U.S.): While Dwight has had hilarious moments (especially during the scenes at his beet farm with Mose), it is refreshing to see a scaled-down version in Gareth, who is eccentric and tries to maintain a fake aggressive posture while constantly citing his military service (as a “leftenant” in the Territorial Army), but remains within believable limits.
Dawn (U.K.) vs. Pam (U.S.): I think these characters are the most alike, although Jenna Fischer is much prettier, in my opinion (but Lucy Davis‘s rack is…almost an equalizer).
Keith (U.K.) vs. Kevin (U.S.): Keith is refreshingly wittier than Kevin…unapologetically fat, also with very little filter, but without sounding literally retarded (as the U.S. series acknowledged in one of its episodes).
Lee (U.K.) vs. Roy (U.S.): Lee is much more of a jerk, to Dawn and others generally, whereas Roy is actually pretty cool (although he unintentionally took Pam for granted), which makes it easier to root for Tim and Dawn to get together.