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October 22, 2004

Best Television Show Ever -- The Office

Well, I finally got to see the epilogue to The Office. Not just a funny show -- although it is very funny -- it's also a very poignant drama. David Brent is like George Costanza, except this version of Geroge doesn't just lightheartedly laugh off his shortcomings. He's insecure, buffoonish, and dimwitted, but you can't help feeling sorry for him, and you cringe at his every awkward remark and display of desperate loneliness.

And of course there's the office romance, which first turned me off, because I thought it was so cliched, but they handle it a lot differently than you might expect. It's not really a romance at all, but the sweetest, saddest bit of unrequited love in a comedy that I've seen.

It's all awkward flirting, palpable longing, and one missed opportunity after another. In other shows, you roll your eyes when one person jumps into bed with another. In this one, you start asking "When are they finally going to admit they love each other?," and towards the end it gets almost unbearable as you begin to realize Oh no; this really isn't going to happen, is it?

Okay. Yes, that's a really girly confession. But seriously, I think even Real Men Who Hate Chick Flicks will become interested in this non-romance and ultimately become exasperated by it. It's interesting and very well-handled.

If you're going to start watching the show, try to start from the beginning. I think they're starting the series run again this week; I think the description of the first episode is "David's Management Philosophy."

Videotape or otherwise record the Christmas special, but don't watch it until you've watched the full run of the show. The Christmas special has to be seen after, not before. Watching it before will spoil a lot of the show that comes before it.

I'd recommend just buying the series on DVD through BBCAmerica -- it's really that good -- but you should probably catch a few episodes before you buy the series. It's not for everyone. I didn't like it the first few times I saw it; it took me some time to appreciate it. A lot of people might just find it a bit slow. And a lot will find it too cringey-- much of the show consists of moments which aren't actually funny, just embarassing and pathetic.

Martin Scorcese called his great film The King of Comedy a "social horror" movie. It's a horror movie, but the horror isn't blood and gore, but people behaving so painfully wrong that it makes you wince and hide your eyes. That's The Office, except it's a little bleaker. At least The King of Comedy was a little over-the-top and therefore gave the viewer some distance from the social embarassment. The Office plays it straighter, mostly -- it's a naturalistic mockumentary -- so you feel the cringiness without the ameloriating distance of it being played for farce.

If anyone saw the Christmas Special tonight and can understand British accents better than I can, please help me out. Late, late in the party scene, when **** shows up and ****** ***, Gareth says something I couldn't catch, and then the person who shows up says something in response.

I couldn't catch either, but I swear it sounds like Gareth is saying "Careful, she's got cancer." I think the response is "Um, not anymore." Does anyone know for sure? What the hell is said in this exchange?

Spolier Alert: I don't think the episode can be discussed without revealing major spoilers. So, if you haven't seen the show or the special yet, don't read any comments that follow. Trust me, this is one of the few comedies where a spolier alert is warranted. If you have any interest, keep out.

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posted by Ace at 01:24 AM

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