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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Office

Episode 3 tonight of that pale shadow US version of the hit Brit series. It is in dire trouble.

When warm-up commercials talk of "the show the critics are all raving about", they mean "Please somebody have some sort of an opinion and say something about the show."

Interesting to have this third episode follow so closely on yesterday's unauthorized behind the camera look at Robin Williams' Mork and Mindy escapades. Studios were shown up for being the blinkered bean-counting suits they clearly still are, or how else would this Carellian cockup have even been dreamed up, let alone sold back to the Brits. By the way, a masterly job by Chris Diamantopoulos as Williams, particularly the uncanny voice and delivery. A lad who'll go far.

OK, I've watched #3. The Iceman cometh.

10:00pm - worse than I thought. Catastrophic, in fact. I thought it might limp on for another 2 or 3 episodes but it is as dead as a dodo.

  • None of the cast has any identifiable character or chemistry with any other.
  • Whatever Steve Carell thought he was doing, he has created a thoroughly odious creature with none of Gervais' quirky charm. I am told that Carell is meant to be something of a comedian: he defines unfunniness in this role.
  • That talking to camera that so enlivened the UK show and which Gervais/Brent handled brilliantly? Totally beyond the US cast, poor darlings. They must have felt absolutely wretched (not to mention right old 'nanas in front of each other) having to carry it thru for the whole series.

    Michael "Carell" Scott invents a "big surprise" for his staff to offset the bad news of reduced health program benefits. He hasn't anything of the sort and nor can he think one up. At the end of the day, Scott slinks out of his office to be confronted by the entire stoney faced staff, waiting to hear the surprise. This is such a metaphor for the show I can't believe it wasn't intentional. Scott stands there racking his brains for a way out. The staff stand silent - rather as you and I sat silent with disbelief before our TV screens. Scott does one of those fake drum rolls, then nothing ... The staff turn as one and walk away, shoulders drooped in that disconsolate way that people have when there's been no surprise, just further confirmation that they've been let down once again.

    I suspect this mass exit scene was so convincing because the actual actors also felt dumped on and wished to God they were walking out for real.

    I'm not even going to bother to watch it any more. My organization book is wonderfully contemptuous of the crutch we make of bad TV. In fact, there *is* no bad TV, not as far as excuses are concerned for not getting on with ghastly positive stuff that makes us feel good and empowered next morning. I have a feeling I'm not quite yet towing the Schlenger/Roesch party line but that's no doubt why I needed the book in the first place.

    In fact, if things get too bad - and provided the Demarais/White makeover works out - I might try writing to the producers of Super Nanny and plead my case for having the gorgeous Jo-Jo detour via my hovel and wag a stern finger (or any physical extremity on that voluptuous bod) in my direction before hauling me off to the Naughty Corner.

    Did you see her last night with that unbelievable house of yobby brats? If ever there was Borstal stamped across bloated features of the indulg├Ęd young, it's that lot. And the parents! Well, I'm not making any more snide remarks about Merkan families: Last night's was English and far worse than any free-for-all I've seen in Jo's American clients. (And hadn't her accent plummeted to working class? Blimey, I felt right at home. No doubt to fit in with the family. Clever girl.)

    Frankly, I can't work out how all those wretched families are still intact at the end of the show. Surely, the way the Great Programmer intended it is thus:

  • Cool pre-nanny bloke catches eye of chick in pub, both a bit tiddly.
  • They marry.
  • Kids. End of life as they know it.
  • Hubby loses self in work; wife does terrible job keeping brats under control.
  • Dad fed up waiting for the kids to be old enough to make a decent martini or buy a round of drinks. Mum flounders.
  • Probs
  • Enter la Jo Jo Super Nanny, susses out the problem, draws up rules, gives parents and kids stern talking to (at which disgraced mom always cries; hubby thrills to the chiding.
  • To hell with getting Waye n Jolene and little Katy under control: husband fancies the Brit chick 'n' he wants her now.
  • You want ratings?
  • Last scene: hubby grabs Jo Jo - and that gal ain't no sylph - as mum is in the back room trying to cope with all Super Nanny's good work gone wrong.
  • Into sleek London cab leap dad and Jo, and away they speed.
  • Switchboards light up - Holmes first in the queue - bastard. That Jo-Jo's mine, dude.

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