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June 27, 2004

The Office

Jean and I often relax in the evening by watching a show together. One of our more successful series recently was Colonial House. What made it successful was that we enjoyed the entertainment aspect of the show, but also had a lot of fun talking about the series, how it was set up, the interactions of the participants, and how we might have run things if it were up to us.

Our interests overlap in odd little areas, but this often results in a demographic that seems doomed to cancellation. For instance, Jean 'turned me on to' both Lucky and The Peacemakers. They are now both in the television graveyard, disappearing with not so much as a whimper after one season each.

We've had better luck in the animation arena, as Jean got me started on King of the Hill and we've totally exhausted the reruns to backfill early seasons. Now the most recent season is in reruns too, so we are casting about for things to watch. One show we've been watching is South Park. I've seen quite a few of these on my own, but it's fun watching them over with Jean. And there are about a hundred episodes a week to choose from. The downside of that is that even when it's funny, it gets to be a bit too much.

Enter the Internet! Da tada TAH! Somewhere, sometime, I don't recall, I read a rather glowing review of The Office. It's showing currently on BBC America, which we don't get. It's not showing on PBS. So the only way to see it is to buy it. After several weeks of cogitating, I finally decided to take the plunge, and bought the first season, with some trepidation.

To make matters worse, when I told Jean about it, she seemed unenthused, at best. I didn't know that she had a migraine and was running on limited sleep, so I thought, "oh dear, guess I'll have to watch it on my own." But she sat down with me the next evening to watch it. We watched the first two episodes, which really just introduce the characters and build their personae a little. Jean announced "that's cute." Okay, maybe I'll still be watching the rest on my own.

Well, she stuck with it, and the show has gotten better and better. Not for the characters, but for us anyway. The framing device is that the characters are on camera and they know it, via a documentary film crew. The film crew never intrudes on the action -- this is in fact like Colonial House in that respect. They just follow the poor sods of The Office around and capture their lives for us to see. This has an interesting effect in a comedy, as the characters get to actually direct their attention at the camera, at you, and share their feelings. Reaction shots can slip by in a second, but the looks are priceless. In one episode Gareth is riding in a motorcycle sidecar as he is driven past the camera, and he's only there for a fraction of a second -- I had to back up the DVD to catch it -- but his face, so apologetic, embarassed, defiant, conflicted, all at the same time. I bust a gut laughing at that shot.

Follow the link to get a summary of the series, setting, characters and what not. But a warning to my friends, I'm gonna be handing this one around when I'm done with it!

Posted by dpwakefield at June 27, 2004 10:28 PM