Saturday, June 01, 2013

Out of Office

So The US Office has finally closed its doors after more than 200 episodes - a sad loss to the sitcom world. Though I admit to being very sceptical at first, I'd actually say I prefer it to the UK version.

Jonny Dymond's assessment on the BBC site largely hits the right notes in distinguishing the differences between the two - though his characterisation of both is perhaps a little too oversimplistically black and white. The US version, he claims, was infused with a typically American "sunny optimism" while the UK original had "a leaner cast and a bleaker outlook".

The larger cast of the US version was definitely to its advantage, as was the number of seasons, which allowed for greater development of the peripheral characters as well as those central to the action - the UK version was much the poorer for not having a Creed Bratton, for a start.

But the US version's humour did have an edge, at times - and I'd argue Dymond's assessment as "bleaker" also underestimates what lay at the heart of the UK version, which also had some characters to whom you could warm. The Christmas special in particular took it beyond the relatively narrow confines of comedy and into the broader realm of drama, and brilliantly so.

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