The Office (US v UK)

The Office is a funny show. Started in the UK, it has since been redone for a US audience. I have been watching both on Netflix through the web. There is a fascinating difference.

In the UK BBC version, the main character David Brent (Ricky Gervais) is a total dick. There is nothing likable about him. He is rude and obnoxious. He will spread rumors because he doesn’t like someone. I hate David Brent. He makes me not want to watch the show. However, he is funny to watch because of how annoying he is. Sort of.

On the US version the same character is named Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is a very different character.  He is horrible and inappropriate most of the time, however, he has a soul.  His feelings can be hurt and he shows it.  The rest of the characters respond to this.  They often show him tenderness, the way you might a child.  Rather than a total asshole, Michael Scott is a pathetic loser who doesn’t really know any better.  In fact, he has some upside.  He can be a great salesman and sometimes say the right thing; like when he went to Pam’s art show.

The US version to me is much more nuanced.  I appreciate all of the characters more because of their depth and the way the direction brings out those interesting expressions and moments.  I laugh WAY more in the US version too.  I find it funnier, even though there are nearly identical scenes.  The attack on Tim by Pam’s boyfriend was hilarious.  In the UK version is was not funny at all.

I am not saying that the United States is better than England.  I am just saying that their is a major difference in these two shows and that I greatly prefer the US one.  I think it’s brilliant.  I can’t wait until I can get season 4 on DVD Netflix.

2 replies on “The Office (US v UK)”

There is also a german remake called “Stromberg”. Based on your description, its closer to the US version of The Office. Christoph Maria Herbst plays Bernd Stromberg and gives the series its heart.

Another british TV series which got remade in germany is The IT Crowd. The german remake (iTeam) was completely bloodless and either a 1:1 copy or much worse. But the original is amazing, I love it. Obviously because the setting is much closer to my work.

There are a few great outtakes and snippets at YouTube like the Fire! Fire! one.

I watched the original UK version when I was living with my Scottish roommate Iain, and that was really helpful, because there was a lot of humour that would have went right over my head if Iain hadn’t explained it. I loved the British version, but it was very different. One of the biggest difference is in the UK version, Jim was quite pathetic and so was Pam, but in the US version they are both good-looking and charismatic. As for Micheal Scott, I think the British one was much more realistic (even though it was a stretch); in the US version he is almost cartoon-like. The biggest difference is Dwight, who has a completely different type of character. And you have to remember the UK version was only two seasons so there was less time to character development. I really liked the UK version and thought the US version wouldn’t work, but it does and it is excellent.

Whatya think?