Friday, March 18
David Brent, meet Michael Scott
I've been checking out the U.S. version of "The Office," which NBC has posted on a Web site ahead of its premiere next week. No surprise...it's not good.
The first episode borrows liberally from the original show's infamous "Who Cares Wins" episode. An outside speaker is brought in to talk about diversity, and the David Brent character -- here called Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell -- proceeds to highjack the proceedings.
Scott: Why don't we go around and say a race they're attracted to sexually.
Faux Gareth, aka Dwight: I have two -- White and Indian.
We eventually find out that the speaker was brought because a number of employees were offended at Scott's Chris Rock impersonation. Sound funny? It's not.
Dwight, played by the Rainn Wilson (the funeral house intern on 'Six Feet Under'), is mildly amusing. The 'Tim' and 'Dawn' characters don't have any chemistry going for them.
Scott manages to be absolutely horrible and repugnant, but he's missing that pathetic human quality that makes Ricky Gervais so hilarious -- proving once and for all that the funniest Steve on the Daily Show was always Colbert.
This show is going to bomb.
Let's take a moment to revisit the unbridled genius that was the original "Office":
(Outside speaker)Rowan: Gareth, quick test exercise: ultimate fantasy?
David: We're just doing the ultimate fantasy, we're all doing it.
Gareth: Two lesbians probably: sisters. I'm just watching.
And here's the classic "Free Love Freeway" in mp3 format: Link. This epitomised "The Office", which was why this episode was my all-time favorite The coworkers actually bond over David Brent's overwrought, surprisingly well performed songs when he hijacks the training day after going home to get his guitar.
The U.S. version of "The Office" was never going to measure up. I always had a theory that David Brent was actually taking the piss out of Americans, so it's no surprise it didn't translate across the pond.
But at least we have "Extras" on the way.