Ask any hipster; the stuff that nobody but they have seen is infinitely cooler than the stuff everyone else knows about.
And if you talk television, one of the things hipsters and the too-cool-for-thou all agree on is that the British version of The Office is sooooo much better than the American version (which just signed off the air after nine seasons).
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen all fourteen episodes of The Office (UK). It’s funny.
In fact, it’s almost too funny.
And that’s part of the rub.
The Brit original, starring Ricky Gervais – who’s credited as creater for the series on both sides of the pond – aired for two six-episode seasons on the Beeb, along with a two-episode “retrospective” that tied up all the loose ends that’d been left.
The series – there as here – was about what happens when you pack a bunch of very disparate people into the artificial environment of the modern office. Also, about Ricky Gervais’ flair for the outrageous.
The show reminds me of “Fawlty Towers” – John Cleese’s classic seventies-era BBC series about a bumbling, henpecked hotelier. In “Fawlty”, Cleese’s protagonist, Basil Fawlty, would spend each episode spiraling down a vortex of self-induced and ever-more-absurd social pratfalls, aggravated by Fawlty’s arrogance and provincialism, ending inevitably in a classic volcanic meltdown. It was ingenious stuff; the comic tension building as Fawlty’s ineptitude and duplicity built on each other to almost superhuman levels of absurdity. There’s no way to explain it. If you haven’t watched it, find it and do.
And you might just find as I do – that you can only watch Fawlty every couple of years. Fawlty Towersis to comedy what Fourth of July is to fireworks; if you do it every day, it loses its impact.
Gervais’ British Office is the same. The David Brent character is like Fawlty – it’s all so gloriously over the top that the comic tension is almost unbearable.
And it is the show. Oh, there are other layers, nuances in the show – but they can only get developed so far in a show that only lasted fourteen episodes. The “Tim and Dawn” romance is rushed and perfunctory, basically to give a breather from Brent’s antics.
It’s hilarious – and, likeFawlty Towers, it wears me out.
Which is fine. But sometimes I want more…
…which we’ll come back to in a bit here.