The Office (UK) vs. The Office (US)

By: Mike Orme

Posted 05/31/2007 - 05:07:19 AM by meatbreak:
 Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Even your descriptions of each section have the UK winning the for some reason you write: Winner: “The Office (US)”. Except for the product placement, because I don't think anyonbe in the UK would even consider it. The US can keep that one. 9-1 UK.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 07:11:25 AM by konatus:
 It's odd, but I feel that although the Office (UK) is a better programme I find myself enjoying the US version quite a bit more. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the UK version seems more real is that much more discomforting as each episode turns into an endurance test rather than a comedy. Most of the time the laughs are at the expense of ones own embarrassment caused by some situation highlighting the delusional David Brent’s self absorption combined with his lack of self-awareness. The US version, in contrast, is a bit more over the top and detached from reality in true American fashion. Whereas Office (UK) deptics the office as a drab, tedious and almost hellish place to work the American version seems like an all right place actually. In this article the UK version was criticised for the lack of depth in regards to the peripheral characters, however I think this is keeping in line with the documentary feel of the show, something the American version has deviated from quite a bit. The American Office is more of an atypical sitcom, a pretty good sitcom but a sitcom nonetheless.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 08:55:30 AM by Zurich:
 The shows create such different experiences and have different aims to the fact where I don't think comparisons are very fair, nor do they accomplish much good. Especially as the US version has now ballooned to how many episodes? The UK is what it is, a much more complete, real show as you explained, and the US is watered down, probably more entertaining, and easy to stomach on a weekly basis. For me the deciding factor between the two is Michael. He is such a terrible character that I think he makes it hard to take the US version. He's often portrayed as someone who's more mentally handicapped than socially impossible, and that's really hard to reconcile for me, especially when compared to the incomprable David Brent.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 09:50:11 AM by FHJay1:
 Agreed with meatbreak. The UK version is so superior to the US one that only ridiculous categories like product placement would go to the US version. The UK version has a story and characters I cared about with intelligent dialogue, whereas the American version removed any subtlety and just threw in swear words periodically because apparently swearing is funny. Not to mention the UK version ended because it couldn't get any funnier (Gervais' own words), whereas the US version is still barrel-scraping and has been since it went on past the UK storyline. And as others have mentioned, the US version seems to have missed the point.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 10:17:10 AM by cwperry:
 UK 10, US 0. The UK show has the dignity of being self-contained, rather than a droning sitcom of usual American proportions.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 10:28:05 AM by GlottalPlosive:
 Apples and oranges at this point.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 10:56:04 AM by tristan:
 In the Music section, the US's Police cover band, Scratonicity, is omitted. With that in mind, I'd say the series are tied musically. I think konatus hit the nail on the head but calling the UK one a better series and the US one more enjoyable series.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 11:02:03 AM by J_R_K_:
 at least we all agree Coupling (US) was better.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 11:17:46 AM by cwperry:
 GlottalPositive has a point.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 12:10:00 PM by IanMathers:
 I can see the appeal of the UK version to bitter, jaded nihilists, and I certainly think it's an amazing piece of work, but not only does the US version not make me want to kill everyone I see (which the UK version does), it's actually a better show. Maybe it's because it was so short (a quality I normally think is great), but the UK Office is brilliant but shallow. The US Office is brilliant and increasingly less shallow - the characters there are actual people. I'm not surprised the conventional wisdom here is that the more entertaining show is the lesser one, but it just ain't true.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 01:31:28 PM by syurix:
 I find the US version way more resonant because, in spite of all the bullshit of work, dealing with Micheal, etc. there are such great moments of tiny victory for the characters. They all seem to have light in them that seems to be at risk of being permanantley extinguished and what makes the show so indicting while also totally wonderful is that risk and that ongoing battle. Andy and Jim singing "In The Jungle" after the watermark disaster, Micheal buying Pam's painting, Even Michael's attempts to follow through with his hideous misconceptions of show business point to a transcendant ambition that, were it snuffed; would be it's own small kind of tragedy. The US version also does a brilliant job of integrating the texture of a character's life into their jokes, plotlines, etc. in a way that the UK version never quite looked far enough up from its own navel to really get at. Thus, the product placement category is not bullshit so much as a sort of synergy that probably didn't truly exist even 10 years ago.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 02:01:26 PM by MikeOrme:
 Oh dear, how could I have forgotten to write about the wonder that is Scrantonicity? I would perhaps give in to a tie in the "Music" section if in the next season a full episode were devoted to Scrantonicity. Trouble is, that same episode would probably swing the "Plot" category over to the UK side...
Posted 05/31/2007 - 06:00:37 PM by keyinblack:
 I think anyone preaching of the UK superiority for reasons or subtlety, naturalism, and depth fails to realize that the US version is an interpretation, made to be culturally specific. It failed in it's first season trying to mimmick the UK scenarios, but it realized it couldn't be that mean, or cruel to truly work. It hit it's stride in season 2 and I believe has shed more light on office dynamics as well as having more real characters. Those who have complaints that stem from the different television formats (12 episodes vs. 30 so far) must realize that the US office banks considerably on a theme that they both have: the trivial things in life more often than not make our lives. And when no rigged to the overly manicured rigid structure of 12 episodes (where every scene's weight is obvious and almost conscious) the US version has more time to indulge in triviality, on small miracles and nuance. While not perfectly plotted, it becomes perfectly human.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 04:41:52 AM by meatbreak:
 Come on Ian, you can take the pain. The world is a big bad place full of irritating wastrels and oxygen thieves - Obviously, being the bitter, jaded nihilist that I am. I think the people talking about the US developing the characters is missing the point of the succinctness of the UK version. There really is plenty of depth to the characters and I'm not sure how much more about their home lives you need to know, there's so much in it - But if you Americans need it all spelled out for you.....MxBx
Posted 06/01/2007 - 09:58:10 AM by terrorist:
 He gotcha MB. I'm amazed you reacted. I'm with you though. Most of everyone probably (?) saw the UK first, which means the US is being judged against the Platonic form of humiliating humour par excellence. Give the poor US dog a break, Meaty. It's a mongrel with no love. I watched only one of the first US episodes. It was so painful to watch, the David Brent character so embarrassingly bad, that I switched off half way through. They don't get it. They never will.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 12:53:26 AM by Travis_Parker:
 Ah, well, a lot of us don't delight in pain. It's TV. Not a film. National TV is entertainment; a film is an opportunity for cultural advancement. Thus, this battle becomes one of pretentiousness vs. realism. The UK Office is like, painful. It hurts. I want to enjoy what I'm watching, not kill the characters. I love the US Office for that reason. Dwight may be insane and a jerk, but when he exhibits the human (yes, human) elements, it gives the show a shot in the arm. TV is missing humanity, and the US Office brings it to the table. And since this entire thing is based on subjectivity and an increasing gap in comparability, the whole thing is pointless. I like the US version far better. The US Office gives me hope; the UK Office crushes it. That's a criteria for me. I like to feel either enlightened or hopeful after I'm done watching TV or a movie. Donnie Darko didn't give me warm fuzzies, but it gave me something to think about. The UK Office didn't give me anything to think about. What can I do? Change everybody's behavior? I'm afraid not. So yeah, go US version. Thanks for giving us the Pam/Jim thing again, even though Karen was, in real life, better looking. I still love Pam more.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 07:46:15 AM by bassmanO8:
 not sure where all the 'pain' is coming from. to say the UK office is painful is to indicate some kind of self-recognition. and what could be better and funnier than having your own -ists nerve-end exposed. this is why the second viewing is funnier still. you've learned something about yourself, learned to laugh at, and then laughter is all that's left. the US version does not of the above. the character's are the same old same old sitcom characters, other people you don't care about too much.
Posted 06/05/2007 - 09:51:09 AM by lepton:
 The product placement category was thrown in just to have a 5-4 game was it not? You don't even mention the UK version in it because it's clearly a biassed category. You say "UK" never goes into Brent's "cultural taste" but aside from going out to popular restaurants, Gervais consistently talks about music, movie stars, authors, and pop culture references which I'm sure do not go over the head of someone like you. Giving the 'plot' category a tie is absurd considering you gave the edge to "UK" for romantic lead, interpersonal relationships, and the boss...which totalled up basically makes the plot. Comparing Gareth and Dwight is a joke since as you mentioned in your article, the show is first and foremost a DOCUMENTARY. There is no one who is as stupid/clueless as Dwight (re: receiving faxes from future self?). This is what makes the UK version infinitely better, its characters are people, whereas US's characters are just characters. You call the secondary characters category a close call after mentioning that UK barely even recognizes its secondary characters. All it takes is a few rants by Keith and a few shots of Sheila to tell stories about characters and UK does, in a few shots, what US fails ot do in multiple episodes and plotlines. The only comparable category is between Pam and Dawn, but even then, Pam's best qualities are those that are ripped straight from Dawn's character. UK managed to wrap up the character in a reasonable amount of time but with the extended life of US, Pam's character has a pseudo-epiphany, calls of her wedding, yet stills ends up working at the same desk for another year as if nothing had changed. US, although it does have its moments, definitely gets shutout here.
Posted 06/06/2007 - 03:42:53 PM by qwerty:
 Just think, we could have be having this debate about the different versions of Peep Show or Life On Mars in the next few years.