I have been a huge fan of THE OFFICE ever since its first season. And, up to and including the very last episode, I am glad I did. The Series was original in its premise and execution, the pseudo-documentary format opening up numerous previously little explored avenues of storytelling. And it was great fun to watch.
The setting (the office of a small branch of paper-selling company) and the stories (everyday life of the people found working in such a low-prospects jobs) seem mundane at first. And there lies the magic of the creators. For (if the endless strings of CSIs are any indication) it not hard to create good TV with car chases, gadgets and explosions. It is extremely hard to make excellent TV with only the everyday grind to work with. It seems effortless only because they made it look easy.
The brief one-way interviews each character had with the camera functioned as either prefatory summaries of stories about to unfold (building up the anticipation) or as instances of pushing back, yet never breaking, the forth wall, and, thus, making the viewing experience more personal and involving. All without the show ever loosing its step.
Producing, directing and writing will only get you so far without the right cast. And THE OFFICE enjoyed such stellar cast. Steve Carell may have risked getting typecast by creating the unforgettable character of Michael Scott but it was worth it. Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) served first as the precarious love interest and then as the familiar friends you care about and the rest of the cast was one successful pick after another. From hypochondriac and hypercritical (not to mention hypocritical) Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) to perky Kelly Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper), I could not imagine anyone else portraying these memorable characters. However, the show stealer has always been obsessive nerd Dwight Schrute, portrayed to perfection by Rainn Wilson.
Purists and snobs will try to argue that the precursor British Series was better. Strangely for someone who usually finds Hollywood remakes watered down and bland, in this case I strongly disagree. The US version was much better. It had the perfect mix of familiar workday desperation and sweet quirkiness to make it a weekly craved addiction. In contrast, I found the BBC version too mean for my taste. Maybe one should have grown up in a cruel class system carved out by accent hues and prep-school rankings to appreciate it; however, during the handful of episodes I managed to watch I found myself laughing at the characters, not with them, and then felt bad about it. Anyway, in all honesty, how could Gareth ever compare to Dwight!
The series is unique in another aspect as well: it respected its viewers. Every producer, director and writer wants to make his or hers memorable splash so we often end up with unnecessary cliffhangers, ambiguous endings or unsatisfying closures. Not so with THE OFFICE. No spoilers but I will just state that the show does not disappoint to the very end.
Now, how many reams of Dunder Mifflin Premium acid-free paper should I you down for?Read more ›