Sunday, August 14, 2005

On my late coming to the BBC's The Office

When I generally watch a television show on DVD, the temptation to go on watching episode after episode is almost irresistible. I’ve watched shows for hours without stopping in the DVD format (but shows aren’t meant to be watched in this way; I got tired of the OC and Six Feet Under in just twelve and forty episodes respectively J ): Sex and the City, the O.C., Six Feet Under, Friends. But I couldn’t watch more than an episode of The Office, the BBC’s acclaimed sitcom/reality/drama (There are six episodes in each of the two seasons besides a two hour finale). Not because the show’s not any good. But the show’s (brilliantly constructed) combination of excruciating pauses, bad jokes, and social satire is only ingestible in small doses. The Office is probably the only sitcom (but it’s not a sitcom) which is expressly designed not to be funny. It is a little closer to reality tv (but it’s not reality tv) but much less condescending, to its characters, than say your average dating show.

Dana Stevens of Slate calls the Office as “cringe-theater” and the epithet fits it to a T. My own favorite cringe-moments (from the first episode) are the pained expressions that the blonde receptionist Dawn shoots, when manager David (played pitch-perfectly by creator-director Ricky Gervais) makes one of his all-too-frequent conversational (bad) jokes. The Office is a series one admires (for the style, the syntax, the acting, the script – everything!) more than loves – but it is on every level, a classic. Now I’m all set to watch the marathon NBC version on Wednesday (in it’s first season) - lets see how it compares!

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