Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
The American version of The Office is better than the original, UK version. Pretty bold statement and one that is actually silly and pointless. By this point, with (I think) the ninth season airing in America, the similarities between both programs is so slight and superficial, that comparing them would be like comparing James Bond and Johnny English. Yeah, they’re both spies, but apart from that?
I have been a fan of both versions of the Office for as long as I can remember and as much as I hated the idea of an American version, a chance to see a different approach to the brilliant Ricky Gervais comedy was too tempting to avoid. Six seasons in, The American Office is a much better, well-rounded and complete program. The main reason being the time taken to tell the stories and grow the characters.
The first season is all about Michael Scott, Jim and Pam and to a lesser extent, Dwight. It lasted six episodes, was hit and miss and felt like a clone of Gervais sitcom. How the series managed to distance itself from the UK version was to flesh out all of the office staff. By the sixth season, we now have a host of characters, all gaining their own stories, back-stories, familiar jokes and traits and unlike the UK version, this actually feels like a proper office.
People always commented on how Ricky Gervais’ sitcom captured a realistic workplace, maintaining the boredom as well as the small dramas. I completely agree with that and his sitcom will always have the edge on that sort of realism. What the American version does brilliantly is captures and explores the range of different characters in any workplace, shining the light on everyone, not just the four “main” characters.
By this point, The Office is beginning to make some substantial changes. A bankruptcy, a takeover, a wedding and a birth are all highlights of the season and because we have actually had time to see the show and characters develop, the wedding and birth are actually huge events. In fact, the main positive of the American Office compared with the UK version, is seeing Jim and Pam (Tim and Dawn for purists) actually progress further than what was implied at the end of the British sitcom.
Everything that makes the show so hilariously funny are all present. Steve Carell is effortless as Michael and manages to out-do each embarrassing moment with another just as cringe-worthy. Jim is still the most relatable and likable person on the show and I stand by the fact that his scenes with Dwight are the best in the series as a whole. Everyone else is their character. I’d hate to actually meet Kevin or Angela on the street and not have them act like their television counterparts.
Overall, The American Office, after six seasons, is still hilariously funny. It has had time to grow, progress with the stories and situations and that has only added to the success. I always thought Ricky Gervais made the right decision to finish his version of The Office after two seasons and a special but if the American version is anything to go by, he was very premature.
Best Episode – Niagra. Not necessarily because it’s the funniest but because we finally get to see Jim and Pam get married.
Best performance – Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Should there have been another season? – Definitely, still one of the best shows on television.
Season Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)