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Slough, meet Scranton : UK Office vs. US Office
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Feb 24th 2006 edited

It probably has something to do with my bipolar (dark and sunny) personality, but I am a big fan of both versions of The Office. Here's a very early comparison of the two versions that in retrospect might be of interest.

UK vs. US

Feb 24th 2006

On an altogether different note, here's a very early (11/02/03)announcement of the start of production of the US version. The character descriptions taken from the casting documents are interesting.

The Office - An American Workplace

Feb 25th 2006

Thanks, Chip! That production announcement was pretty entertaining.

Especially in Dwight's description: "If stuck in an elevator, he would probably start drinking his own urine after ten minutes."

Feb 25th 2006

Wow, I completely disagree with that comparison. In my opinion, David Brent of the UK version was not likeable AT ALL (throughout most the series anyway). I find Steve Carell to be the better character.

Feb 25th 2006

Jim Nelson, huh?

Feb 25th 2006

I don't like David Brent. He's very unlikeable. I only saw the first series of the UK version, and I liked it, but I definately think Michael is more likeable... and you can tell that there's a heart inside him SOMEWHERE. :)

Feb 25th 2006

Also, I completely agreed with the comments made by views of the first few episodes. At first, I thought, "I work with these jerks, why do I want to watch them on TV?" Oh, how times have changed!

Also, the point about Jim's hair is interesting. The "bad haircut" deal. Have you noticed how much men's hair styles have changed in the last year and moved toward the Jim look? It's like the "Rachel" cut of the '90s, but for men.

Feb 26th 2006 edited

P.S. Bring Back "Father of The Pride"

In context, that slays me.

Feb 27th 2006

I've gone back and forth with the UK vs. US debate. At this point, they really have become different enough that I hate to compare them. But, alas... The UK version was more thoughtful humor, more intelligent, and more subtle in so many ways. David Brent has less heart but was more cringe-worthy, Tim/Dawn were less obvious than Jim/Pam.
The US version is so much more in-your-face, both in humor and romance, as well as the fact that we have seen much deeper sides of these characters than the British version ever revealed. We've seen them in and out of the office setting, and we've seen their personalities more than the UK ever revealed - Angela in her ornament-stomping glory, Michael with the trick-or-treaters, Kevin needing to delete a lot... of stuff, Pam watching last year's longest-engagement award, Ryan pulling out his hair after an evening with Kelly. It's humor, but I think it has more heart than the UK ever allowed us to see, with the exception of some of Tim's discontented sighs of unrequited love. Sigh... I love The Office.
I don't know... those are just my preliminary thoughts. I'm sure I will expand on them later. Anyone else, feel free to expand in the meantime.

Mar 1st 2006 edited

Stella, I agree with your comments. Thanks to my local PBS I've now watched 7 episodes of the UK series. I'm going to wait and give a full review (comparing & contrasting both shows) after I see all of the UK episodes.

I definitely like the US version better because I'm more invested into their characters (especially Jim & Pam). I love Ricky Gervais though (better than Carell). David Brent was a flawless, true comic creation. He's one of my favorite TV characters of all time.

May 19th 2006

I'm afraid to watch the BBC version because what if I like it more? I'd rather just love and be infatuated with the US version, then actually like another show more that might be genuinely better. How retarded.

May 19th 2006 edited

Ok, I have a proposal for everyone. How about over the summer (as a sort of distraction) we all watch the UK version and then do some compare/contrast analysis? I have seen all the British episodes, and I don't think I like it as much as the US version (honestly, I just don't get some of it) but I think it could be interesting nonetheless. Takers?

Edit:we could even watch an episode weekly just as if it were really on television!

May 19th 2006

I've seen all of both versions, and (even though I don't dislike either one) I like the US version much, much more. I just like all of the characters more. Plus Dawn annoys me.

May 19th 2006

UK was more blunt. It threw its humor right out there on the table. However, I have to go with US. The fact that a lot of the humor is subtle and a lot of the charm comes from relatablity just makes it the better show for me. The characters on US seem like they could be real people; the UK characters seemed like skewed charicatures. However, David Brent's "Free Love Freeway" song...pure brilliance.

May 19th 2006

And "If you don't know me by now, you will never, never, know me...". Just beautiful. :-)

Maybe I should watch the BBC version again this summer during this long wait for Season 3.

May 20th 2006

Maybe I should watch the BBC version again this summer during this long wait for Season 3.

I've just done that... Just finished the last one today.

It's gonna be a loooonnngg time 'til September

May 20th 2006

I came to the original after seeing the IMDB board flooded with anti-US fervor (we're talking the NBC version's board...to paraphrase Lisa Simpson, why would they come to that board just to boo the show?), and I have to say...I like it equally well, though I'm not as passionate about it. Not because I don't like it as much, but because it's a completed thing. I have the first season on DVD, which I would recommend to anyone who likes the US one and wants to see where the differences lie.

I give the US one credit for expanding the scope of the show from just the four main "arc" characters to the secondary and even tertiery (Toby, anyone) characters. You don't get a feel for the other Office inhabitants in the UK one, at least from the first season. They're more there as foils for Brent, it seems.

Another thing: David Brent will almost ruin it for you the first time you watch it. I found myself thinking "who is this a-hole?" and "why aren't there more to do with Tim and Dawn?" But it grows on you, definitely (I think my mistake was in watching the first season all the way through in one go. Three hours with David Brent could get to you). I'm going to have to wrap it up at that, though I have many more thoughts on the two serieses, as there's a thunderstorm going on outside and I don't want the computer to be on if the power gets knocked out.

May 20th 2006

So over the past week I watched all 14 episodes of the British version. And now I'll comment on them. Fun. Good times.

It's difficult to compare the actors and characters between the BBC and NBC versions, because of the subtle differences. It all starts at the top, though. I've found that of those critics who aren't fans of our version, often the Gervais-Carell comparison is cited. Although Michael Scott has more depth than David Brent, Gervais plays David so amazingly that I have to agree. I don't mean this to slight Carell, but come on. The British version relied so heavily on David Brent that it would not have succeeded without such an amazing acting job. The aforementioned "Free Love" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" slaughter "Teach Your Children Well."

In the British version, Gareth Keenan appears to be somewhat accepted by David and Chris Finch. Dwight Schrute is just disliked by all (save for Angela). Mackenzie Crook and Rainn Wilson are also very different physically, which makes the comparison awkward. Both are perfect for their respective roles, so, win-win... win.

Jim vs. Tim. Jim Halpert seems to be a regular, coolish guy. He has a roommate and friends outside of work and is probably around 27. Tim Canterbury doesn't have much going on outside of work. He's 30 and lives with his parents, and isn't particularly attractive (is he? I don't know). Martin Freeman holds his own with the role, but just doesn't really do it for me. As for John Krasinski, I think his performance outdoes that of Freeman's, but that might be because the character of Jim is better than the character of Tim. I've expressed my controversial opinions of JK on officetally. I can explain here if needed as well. But not right this minute.

After those three characters, the comparisons get REALLY lopsided in favor of the American version. What main character have I not touched on yet? Oh yeah...

Dawn Tinsley vs. Pam Beesly. Anyone with at least one eye can tell that Jenna Fischer is more attractive than Lucy Davis. Pam's outfits are more conservative than those of Dawn's, especially when they felt it necessary to show plenty of Dawn-cleavage in the Christmas special. No matter... Jenna has that je ne sais quoi that Lucy definitely lacks. Of course it goes far beyond looks. Jenna just puts Lucy to shame with her acting ability. It's not even close. No specific examples, just overall, in every single episode, I don't feel that the role of Dawn was played well. Meanwhile, the role of Pam is played consistently the best out of any role on the show. I hold this belief much stronger than I should.

JAM vs. Tim-Dawn. Again, not even close. Tim-Dawn wasn't a major part of the British version. It was never really played out, and in the second series I never felt like Tim even was interested in Dawn anymore. Then Dawn was pining after Tim. Until the final episode. What's the deal with that? The kiss in the Christmas episode did absolutely nothing for me. Mayhe that's because I watched the episodes in a 4-day span instead of a 2 1/2 year span. But I don't need to comment on JAM. So good.

But what truly separates the two shows, as has been mentioned plenty of times, is the secondary characters. Granted, the British only had 14 episodes, but that's not the American version's fault. Every single American character after the big four is better than the best British secondary character.

May 20th 2006

Ew, Jim Halpert was going to be Jim Nelson?

as Michael said in Dundies "Yeealech!"

May 20th 2006

PWJ,

I've expressed my controversial opinions of JK on officetally.

Where, on OfficeTally can I read what you wrote about JK? Thanks.

May 20th 2006

Emmy buzz.

Comment six contains the gist of it, comment nine explains my frustration, including with the way I think things (namely the kiss) are being overanalyzed to death; to the point where they are no longer enjoyable.

Listen, I appreciate John's acting ability and facial expressions and all that jazz, but I kind of share the Dwight Schrute philosophy... just as he doesn't tip people who do things he can do himself, I don't absolutely gush over things I can do myself. That's quite often how I judge actors. He's good for the role of Jim, I just don't think he's any more Oscar-worthy than Rainn or Jenna, both of whom will most likely get passed over.

I stand by every comment I made, including the probably needing a hiatus to avoid burnout.

May 20th 2006 edited

Thanks, PWJ. I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that Jim could be played just as well by any similar actor, but I agree that Rainn Wilson is irreplaceable as Dwight. I hope Jenna wins an Emmy for her work, but if not, then I hope she at least gets nominated.

And, even further off-topic - Has the font (while typing a comment) changed on this site or is it just my computer?

May 21st 2006

I think I pointed it out in my previous comment, but where the American version trumps the British one is in the showcase for secondary and other lesser characters (in relation to the main four who are the natural focus). It could be that the British one does a better job of giving you a feel for the other office inhabitants during the second series, but I haven't seen it so I can't comment.

As for Dawn-Pam comparisons...I think it's easy to feel like Jenna cleans the floor with Lucy in a one-on-one contest after a marathon viewing of the Brit version, but when you go back and see Dawn in her own right, she comes off a lot better than initially (because I too was wondering "what's all the fuss about?"). It's not that Pam is the "American version of" Dawn, but she's an expositon on that type. If Pam and Dawn were transparently the same, it wouldn't be worth watching.

Tim-Dawn: I agree that the Brit version doesn't seem to focus on their relationship as much as Jim-Pam. But on repeat viewings, you do get a feel for them as a couple. The initial first viewing might lead you to think that they're neglected, but go back and pay attention to the amount of time invested in just shots of Tim and Dawn together. In interviews, Ricky Gervais has stated that Tim and Dawn are the "heart" of the show, and while they're not as obvious as Jim and Pam they are identifiable as a couple.

That being said, I prefer Jim and Pam. Being a huge Anglophile, I would have expected to be more in tune with the Brit version but the American one has wormed its way into my heart, and part of that is Jam. The flirtation is more obvious here, if only because (like I said in a post about the kiss) the camera crew picked up on the flirtation early and decided to focus on it (not to the exclusion of other stories, thankfully, because if this was Jam 24-7 we'd all get sick of it). On some level, they make a more "attractive" couple in terms of the fact that they're easier to see fit together (Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis, bless them as actors, are the very definition of "unextraordinary" in the looks department, and I think they're meant to be. If these were two glamorous people who were in love, it wouldn't work for either coupling). They're not Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but they're more appealing than, say, a potential coupling between Nosferatu and Frankenstein's Bride ;-p

And I realize that I'm up early on a Sunday morning, comparing Tim-Dawn and Jam. Definition of "obsessed fan", perhaps?

May 21st 2006 edited

It's very interesting to read the comparisons between the UK and US versions. Am I right in saying that all (if not, at least 99%) of these comments have come from Americans? Because most seem to favour the US version. There's nothing wrong with that of course, the US version is tailored to meet the needs of US viewers.

I offer the following comments not necessarily as favoritism for the UK version, but as an alternative from the "American" veiwpoint of it that is rampant on these borads.

I am Australian. A lot of British shows are very popular in Australia, and vice versa. There are many similarities in Australian and British taste for TV. And of course, here in Oz we get a lot of US shows as well. The similarities are less obvious, but because a good 80% of Austalian TV is from the US, we are forced to like it (I'm not saying it's bad of course, it's just we don't have a lot of choice most of the time).

I LOVE both the UK and US versions of The Office, but for different reasons. For me, it's really apples and oranges.

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, but if there's one thing Americans are known for in Australia, it's lack of subtlety. A lot of people on these boards have commented on the subtlety of JAM. I respectfully disagree. Sure, there are subtle moments, but overall JAM is quite "in your face" by my (and I guess, though I can't speak for us all, Australian) standards. This, I believe, is what leads a lot of people to think that Tim/Dawn was underplayed in the UK version. For me, TAWN (a new name?) was very real and acted beautifully.

PWJ mentioned:

in the second series I never felt like Tim even was interested in Dawn anymore

This is an example of subtlety being overlooked. I felt in the second series Tim was still madly in love with Dawn, but wasn't "pining" so obviously for her. He found himself another office romance with Rachael, but only as a distraction from Dawn. He wasn't interested in Rachael at all. Look how he turned down the weekend away with her before he even knew any details about it. He also found distraction at the start of the second season by fully throwing himself into his new, higher postion within the company. At times he was almost mean to Dawn as a result. This doesn't mean he was any less interested in her, he was trying to be less obvious to her about it. The second series TAWN romance was so much more subtle than JAM has ever been.

I don't want to compare between the roles and actors of the two versions. They are different, and rightly so; they are aimed at different audiences. All I can say is, I think each actor (from both versions) was/is perfectly suited to their roles. I think we can all agree that any other actors may have bought something different to each role, but not necessarily better or worse than the actors that were chosen.

So, apart from actors and roles, the only things I can compare are stroylines and the development of the show.

The UK version had only 14 episodes to fully develop its characters and story. As such, it did not have as many secondary characters developing into "real" people. They were kept very much in the background. But, there are still similarites in what the characters and stories did/do. In the UK version, there was one secondary office romance, as compared to at least 3.5 in the US version (Dwight/Angela, Ryan/Kelly, Michael/Jan/Carol (I don't count Phyllis and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration)).

I have a lot more to say, but in an attempt to stop this turning into a novel-length post, I'll finish now be reiterating that while comparisons between the 2 versions are fun (and were always inevitable), it's not fair to say either one is better or worse than the other. They were both made to suit the audience they were intended for, and both have succeeded immeasurably well.

Apples and oranges...

Oh, and Lori, yes the font had changed! It's not just you!

May 21st 2006

Good summary Mixed Berries. I really do think that each show has done what it set out to do very well. The British version can be seen as more successful in this aspect because its popularity in England was probably greater than the American version's popularity in America.

In regards to the subtlety aspect of the relationships, I don't disagree at all. I've never thought that JAM was anything close to subtle. But I don't want it to be. Minor aspects of the show can be, and often are, subtle. But anything that's key to the story I want thrown in my face. And they are. The way it's produced, JAM just seems more real than Tim/Dawn. Culture differences I reckon.

I was surprised to see just how much of the first season of the American version was lifted from the British version. Even Dwight getting locked in his workspace was taken from the Christmas special. And Ricky Gervais was just so awesome throughout the whole thing. If I didn't consider it blasphemous, I might suggest that he plays his role even better than Jenna plays Pam. But I'll have to watch it more to develop a further opinion.

May 21st 2006

The week of the finale I rented the season 1 DVD of the UK Office from the video store. My husband watched a few of them with me as well. Is it just me or does the gal who plays Dawn resemble Nicole Riche if Nicole were to gain weight and not be a stick? Also my husband pointed this one out to me, the guy who plays Tim is in the movie Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy and also in The Office he looks and acts just like a manager we had when we worked at McDonald's together.


Denise

May 21st 2006

Martin Freeman (Tim) is also in Love Actually, he plays the guy actor in the porn shoot.
Wonderful movie! :-)

May 21st 2006

All I'll say is that I think NBC's version is the best thing currently being shown on TV, and is leagues ahead of any other American show in recent memory in terms of intelligence, heart and hilarity.

That said, Gervais's David Brent was really an immortal character, and I doubt anything will ever really be like the UK Office. It was just an amazing tour de force of television. It didn't compromise; it was absolutely fearless. It was great where the US version is just really incredibly good.

But you know, I'll settle for really incredibly good. That's not much of a problem for me.

Aug 5th 2006 edited

I am going to revive this thread :)

In my "The Webisodes are not Enough" binge this past week, I partook in all 14 episodes of the BBC Version, and, to be honest, by the end (blasphemy warning) I fell in love with it more so than the US Version.

Being the Ted that I am (How I Met Your Mother reference, and for those of you that don't ge that, I'm the late 20s, single professional, hopeless romantic) I just want to analyze Tim/Dawn/JAM.

Taking nothing away from the US version, it's the best show out there by far but, the Tim/Dawn dynamic versus the Jim/Pam/Jam dynamic is remarkable.

In thinking of the US version, JAM has had a slow build, with what some call a premature peak, but, nothing really so painful as what Tim and Dawn go through.

Tim and Dawn go through Tim's first strike with Dawn during the Training.....then Tim pretty much starts ignoring Dawn when he gets promoted and picks up the new girlfriend. At this point, Dawn is starting to realize what she may be missing. (ok ok I know, Katy....but.....Jim never really told Pam anything)

The flirting/frienship/bonding is pretty much the same in both.

But, where I find the real winner in the UK version is the total and utter agony that you see both Tim and Dawn going through with Tim's second 'strike out' and her move to Florida. (Ok ok, so we may see that coming with Scranton/Stamford....)

All of that being said, by the time we hit "the kiss" (not the kiss for 1 pound) in the UK, things have come to a head and Dawn NEEDED to get away from Lee and she knew it.

I'm not quite sure Pam knows it yet.

Don't get me wrong. I was quite satisfied at the JAM kiss and the whole "....just once" sequence. I just feel like maybe the Dawn/Tim kiss was a bit more earned, or whatever.

Again, I love both versions. And maybe it's just that the real absence from JAM during the summer season has caused me to be more sympathetic to Dawn/Tim. That solves it, I'll watch all of Season 2 and the Christmas Special of the UK and both seasons of the US tomorrow (KIDDING) to figure it out.

And one last comment to Plain White Jim. I totally disagree man :) Both Jenna and Lucy are GORGEOUS out of character. As well, their dress/behavior in character is just indicative of the difference in characters. To be quite honest, Dawn had many many endearing qualities to her. I could see myself with a "Dawn" some day as easily as I could a "Pam"

I actually would like to know more about Lucy Davis in real life. It's been hard finidng more than just the few short paragraphs that were listed in her BBC bio.

BUT

September 21st still cannot come soon enough for me :)

Aug 5th 2006

I wish the British cast was going to meet the US cast. I really wish that deal hadnt fell through.

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