Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Office

What a horrible little show. I was surprised, at first, to hear that it struggled its first season, and keeps getting nudges and bumps and lots of help from corp staff as far as network scheduling and second chances.

Then I watched the first three episodes.

It's just not a funny show. In fact, it's deeply uncomfortable. The "humor" involves working for a tasteless boss. And the discomfort comes from the fact that we've all worked for (or deeply dreaded working for) a loser, clueless boss just like this one. These are the people who control your salary, your health insurance, your 8-12 hour workday. And they're utterly incompetent. But not in a funny way.

To add insult to injury, the only female main character is... the secretary. Seriously. And she seems to only exist so one of the sales guys can have a hopeless crush on her. It's just this side of insulting.

I nearly didn't finish the last episode on the disk, then realized it was the only "new" television I had in the house, and ground through it.

I'm sure the show's gotten better since it first came out, but I understand now why it struggled.

They kept this on an cancelled Firefly?


9 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

OMG! I can't agree more! Firely was such an excellent show. I bought the DVDs because it's so good. I watch the whole thing every few months. That was seriously good stuff.

The Office, on the other hand? Ew. I spent 8 years working for a guy like that. The only thing that kept me from killing him is the fact that I look awful in orange. And I'm sure they wouldn't let me have all my art supplies in prison.

teleject said...

Firefly was on Fox, which totally messed with its time-slot making sure it could never sustain a bankable audience.

Also, Firefly didn't get a chance to gel until episode 7, IMO, right before they pulled the plug.

The Office is on NBC, which, well, also killed off Bionic Woman, which was growing on me. So, their track record for sci-fi shows isn't so hot, too.

Erin said...

Yes, the first season was worse than current seasons. That secretary? Has had great emotional growth in the meanwhile. Dumped her fiance, realized her passion (art) and is following it. There are more women added, some horrible, some funny. But the awkward boss is still like nails on chalkboard.

Amie Stuart said...

I've just never really been a sitcom person and this one really didn't excite me so I missed it and I'm glad I did. That said, I love me some Firefly!

Jennifer said...

I don't get it either. I've seen three episodes and do not think it is laugh-out-loud-hi-larious the way everyone will tell you it is. The deadpan staring alone is enough to kill any attempts at jokes. This is a hit? Why? I got forced to watch one episode on a plane and there wasn't one laugh in it, and it was depressing to boot (i.e. some girl or other settling for the awful boss).

Anonymous said...

I understand how on the surface, Pam might seem like a sexist figure due to her position in the office as secretary. But, weirdly, I think that that's the beauty of the show. It takes those stereotypical stock characters (the stupid self-unaware boss, the pretty secretary, the air-headed customer service girl, the over-zealous salesman, the dumb janitor, the amped-up crazy bachelor...etc etc) and pokes fun at them. Give it a few more episodes, I guarantee that you'll see why it's so successful.

Kameron Hurley said...

And, to me, after three episodes, they are *still* just stock characters. And not very funny ones. It's incredibly bland and uncomfortable.

Again, after such a lackluster showing, how did this show stay on? That's my biggest interest. They scrapped Firefly after just six episodes. Of those, I can only think of one (the train robbery) that was crap.

But this one kept getting chance after chance to perform. All I can think is that somebody at NBC just really loved Steve Carrell (who, yes, is usually very talented, but who I just can't stand to watch in this show).

Jon Hansen said...

My wife is a huge fan of the show. Of course, she's also a huge fan of Fawlty Towers, which is the essence of uncomfortable humor. The Office is the same way. In almost every episode I've seen, Steve Carrell's character will do something that will make me leave the room because I can't bear to watch him wreck the train yet again.

The first episodes are apparently pretty close to reshoots of the original British episodes, or so I've heard. It's changed since then, and the other characters have grown quite a bit.

Catrina said...

I actually love The Office. I didn't see the American version until a couple seasons in, but I totally understand the reaction to that first season (especially the first few episodes). I'm not sure why they kept it around and fiddled with it but it could have something to do with the popularity of the British version that preceded it. I will say that I saw that one first and watched it through my hands a lot of times because it is so damned embarrassing, but it is quite different. Part of the error of those first few episodes of the American version is just that using the same jokes as the British just isn't funny with the set up and characters here. They get away from it eventually though, and it develops its own thing. Sometimes the awkwardness is too much to be fun.

I will say the women get featured more and more as the show goes on.