I am watching The Office extremely fast. This is the review for series 1, 2 and 3, and I’m already around nearing the end of 5. Why? Because it’s The Office, people – crazy characters, a great concept and superb writing. Before we even start, I strongly recommend a watch.
This is the US version, just to clarify. Because there are so many series in this, I’m attempting to do three at a time, which may go disastrously wrong, or, hopefully, quite well. Tell me how I did in the comments below!
Yes, series 1 only garners a seven out of ten, and in all honesty could have been lower. It only consisted of six episodes, so it felt sort of like a pilot season instead of a pilot episode. Of course, the show was renewed for a second, but in an alternate reality, perhaps six episodes would have been all anyone remembered of The Office. It was very close to being cancelled. Changes had to be made – and mainly to one character: Michael Scott. He’s funny, but in series 1 there really is little to like about him. His hair is slicked back, his clothes are too tight and he was truly terrible at his job. As we see the show progress, he becomes almost a completely different character.
Yet even in the first series I loved the way it was filmed. The documentary style is brilliant, and always seems to work – Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, BBC hit This Country and maybe there’s even an argument for Arrested Development. The characters seem to thrive off it and I can’t see The Office being filmed any other way.
The Basketball episode stood out as the best, where the sales team took on the warehouse in a big game. I think part of why I didn’t really enjoy the first season was I hardly knew the characters. The Office wasn’t a place I wanted to work.
But then came season 2. And my world changed.
Michael was still incredibly annoying, but now it was funny. He became redeemable. The writers made a pact that whatever happened in the episode, at the end Michael must be optimistic and a changed man so the audience wanted to come back for more, feeling good. The character wasn’t like an American David Brent. He was Michael Scott. There’s constant comparison between The Office UK and The Office US, but, in truth, they are completely different shows.
And now season 2 was a full series; there were 22 episodes. I began to warm to the show after probably the Office Olympics episode. All anyone seemed to do around the office was mundane paper work in Scranton. It’s part of what makes the show, but here we saw the other side to our cast. So instead of having a temp called Ryan, an in-the-closet accountant named Oscar or a human resources rep named Toby who seemed to add nothing to the show, we got to know these people. I think that is what makes The Office. Michael says he loves his job because of the people. And I have to agree with him.
Although they are personalities that we struggle to like at the start, we slowly begin to love them. The Office UK looks at the flaws and common evil with the normal, suburban man with the 9 to 5 job. The Office US’s characters are heightened and exaggerated caricatures who we love because of their faults – similarly to Seinfeld. This allowed a much larger breadth of comedy that we just don’t often find in other shows.
In the UK edition, Ricky Gervais, a man from a working class background, openly dislikes the middle class, bigoted office worker. His dad worked a job he hated, and as he plays David Brent, you can sense he disdains the morals and selfcenteredness of the character. In the US version, they seem to relish it. American comedy is more about bravado. It’s provides pure escapism.
I’ve also got to take a moment to praise Dwight Schrute. What a character. Sometimes, when something becomes so iconic, you couldn’t imagine anyone else in that role – take Forrest Gump for example. Only Tom Hanks could play that part, right? Well the same applies to Rainn Wilson. His looks, his hair, his voice, his completely sociopathic personality… It’s what we like to see.
As I edged closer to the end of series 2, The Office was no longer a simple workspace. It’s a place you wanted to be.
And this is where The Office became scary. Every time I watched it, all I could picture was an overweight, exhausted looking George Constanza in a support group, saying:
“And then my life took a turn for the worse. I got addicted to everything imaginable – alcohol, illegal drugs, cigarettes, sitcoms… The Office was the final straw…”
It was so easily bingeable. I could fly through a couple of episodes without even noticing. I think part of this is down to the fact you can watch a singular episode with no prior knowledge and still enjoy it, but there’s a story that keeps the longer term watchers interested as well.
Even my dad, the old man that he is, likes The Office – he’ll deny it, sure, but he knows it’s true. I’ll catch him one day watching it, sniggering away.
We saw the merging of the Stamford branch and the Scranton branch, and a whole new load of characters. I was concerned it would ruin the dynamic. But then hilariously all of them end up leaving due to Michael’s form of leadership. From where series 3 ended, only Karen and Andy still remain, and Andy had a hiatus from a few episodes at anger management.
I had expected Karen to get the job at corporate, so the only one left was Andy, but instead we had the brilliant moment of Ryan looking into the camera and telling Kelly the relationship was over. Still makes me laugh…
There was also the tension between Pam and Jim which works really well because it keeps us hooked to the longer story. You had Roy involved as well – it outgrows itself as a simple sitcom into something quite larger. Dare I say, a cult?
If you sat me down with someone who had watched all of Seinfeld, as I already mentioned, we could talk for hours, laughing about old jokes, hilarious episodes and ridiculous characters. The same applies to The Office. Admittedly, it’s more mainstream than Seinfeld, but from the people I talk to over in the UK, nobody has really watched it – which is a massive shame, because they’re really missing out. There’s a group of people who like this, there’s people who don’t really get it, there’s a group who hate it, and then there’s people who just love it. I know you, dear reader – you’ll love it.
I can’t wait for series 4. Of course, I’ll be reviewing from 4 to 6, which I have no idea what’ll happen. Do you love The Office? Or do you think it’s wildly overrated? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
The Office (Series 1, 2 and 3) average – 8 out of 10