Yup, I said it. In my opinion, The Office (the original BBC series) is the best TV series of all time and it only lasted 12 episodes with a two hour special capping things off.
The series started in 2001, dropped 6 episodes, then came back the next year for another 6 and then left fans hanging for a little over a year until they released the two hour Christmas special. The concept is similar to the American version in which a reality TV crew follows a group of officemates, focusing specifically on David, the obnoxious boss, Tim the everyman, Dawn the secretary and Gareth the office weirdo. David’s the kind of guy who doesn’t realize how out of touch he really is, while making uncomfortable jokes bordering on racism and sexism at various times. He also fancies himself a comedian, but his timing is awful.
Tim has a crush on Dawn who’s engaged to a brute of a fellow called Lee. Lee sucks, but then again he’s supposed to as you’re constantly rooting for Tim and Dawn to get together (he even asks her out twice with disastrous results). They’re really the big draw to the show, but it wouldn’t be what it is without Gareth who they often tag team to wind up.
At it’s heart The Office is a love story, though often of the unrequited sort as you root for Dawn to realize she’s making a huge mistake with Lee and run off with Tim so they can both go onto their dream jobs (Dawn wants to be an artist, Tim…well he doesn’t want to work at a paper company). Which brings up another soul-punching aspect of the show: growing up and what that can mean to your dreams. Both Dawn and Tim mention that they started their jobs at Wernham Hog to make some money and get a job while working on other things. Now it’s a few years later and they’re all still doing jobs that were supposed to be temporary. As someone in my 20s, I can really relate to the subject and I’m sure it’ll mean something completely different to me when I watch it again in 5 and 10 years.
I have to thank my good friend Rickey Purdin for turning me onto this version of The Office. When I moved out to NY and we moved in together I was watching the US version and he asked if I had seen the original (and not even in that pretentious way that a lot of people ask, even though he wasn’t a big fan of the US show at the time). I said I hadn’t even heard of it, but I was interested and within a few days we watched the whole thing in 2-3 days. It’s so funny on a moment to moment level that you get absorbed and the late hours don’t seem to matter as you move on to the next episode.
To fans of the UK version who got turned off by the US version’s first season, I have to say give it another shot. The first season of the US series was made up mostly of remakes of the original series, so it seems a little played out if you’ve seen the original. I hadn’t at the time, but its taken on such a life of its own (especially with the background characters) that it’s a completely different animal right now.
I’m not sure if this convinced anyone to really go out and rent or buy The Office box set (which I highly recommend), but I can’t recommend this show enough to anyone. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this blog that wouldn’t love The Office and very few people in the world who wouldn’t like it. In addition to the US version, there’s also Office TV series’ in Germany, France, Chile and Quebec, so it’s got a universal appeal. Also, if you’ve ever worked with other people, you can relate to some of the things on the show and Tim actually plays the pranks on his office nemesis that you want to (like putting his or her stapler in Jello or moving all of his possessions out of the office). Great stuff. Seriously, just go check it out.