The Office | Chicago Reader

The Office

One of America's most praised sitcoms, All in the Family, was a remake of a BBC series, so I guess it's conceivable that NBC's The Office, which premieres at the end of the month, will have a life of its own. But after watching a few clips of it online—many of them moments re-created from the original series—I don't think it stands a chance of capturing the British show's weird comedy of excruciating personal awkwardness. Fortunately the BBC series (2001-'03), totaling about eight hours, has been collected on DVD, and this marathon screening offers neophytes a chance to immerse themselves in its black humor and disarming pathos. Ricky Gervais stars as David Brent, the obnoxious and painfully deluded manager of a gray division office for an ailing paper company; among his unhappy employees are Lucy Davis, Martin Freeman, and Mackenzie Crook. The DVD also offers English subtitles, particularly helpful given the lo-fi mockumentary sound track and underplayed colloquial dialogue.

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