It really sucks when you get home, and you're so tired you just want to get to bed, but even though you've changed, you catch a whiff of yourself and smell like a goddamn ashtray. It makes the blood boil instantly. I don't understand how smokers kiss each other. How do they stand it? Neva's got a screed going on her blog, I'm still thinking about what to put in mine.
Neva and I have become obsessed with The Office. It has been described by The New Yorker, of all snobs, as "perfect." And it may well be. Of course, that's subjective. But we utterly, utterly love it. We love it so much we know the theme song by heart. We love it so much that at random times of the day we'll crack up by ourselves because we just remembered a scene. We love it so much we were fighting over who would use the computer first because we both wanted to go to the official website. This, after going through all 12 episodes of the main series. There were only 2 seasons (called "series" in the UK), 6 episodes each, and then a 2-part Christmas special, each part an hour long (collectively called The Office Special). We haven't seen The Office Special, and are dying to. DYING, do you hear?! The ending of Series 2 isn't so much a cliffhanger as it is a downer, and with the prospect of more material, the suspense is unbearable. I almost succumbed to reading online synopses. When I look for websites where I can download the Special I only see part 2. :(
It is supremely funny, despite not adhering at all to the typical sitcom format. There is no laugh track, no music either. It's not taped in front of a live audience. There aren't even any set-ups like punchlines, etc. Its format is the mockumentary, and the humor comes from the characters. But one of the things I love most about The Office, and something that seems to be common to some of the best British comedy, is that, underneath the surface of everything, SOMETHING SERIOUS IS BEING SAID, but with such grace, style, and subtlety that it never comes across as preachy or self-important. And if you pick up on it, you feel better for it because it's something you worked at, it's like a reward you earned instead of something that had to be handed to you on a silver platter.
The show can also take turns to drama at the drop of a hat, and these scenes are just as effective as the humorous ones. The romance between Dawn and Tim, for example, is almost achingly painful to watch, because of their circumstances. And since the format is a mockumentary, it results in something interesting: all their movements, flirtations, gestures are careful, guarded almost, because their characters are under the impression that they're being watched by cameras. So it perfectly loads the smallest things: a laugh, a glance, a pat on the shoulder-- with so much meaning and almost-yearning that it makes you want to rip out your hair.
My favorite character is Tim, played by Martin Freeman. He has the best sense of humor, and his expressions are priceless. I looked him up on IMDB and was surprised to find that I'd seen him lots of places before: in Ali G In Da House (yes, I saw it; the first half's not bad); as the male porno actor in Love, Actually; he has a cameo in Shaun of the Dead; in fact he was in a short film that played at the Edinburgh Film Festival. And I'm gladdened to see that he was given the role of Arthur Dent in next year's Hitchhiker's Guide film. I hope it's good. He deserves to be big.
Of course, consequent research has turned up that NBC is making an American version of The Office for their '05 season, with the name The Office: An American Workplace (ugh). I don't know, I can't help but feel that this is bad news, even if series creators/writers/directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are executive producers, the writer's Greg Daniels (alum of SNL, The Simpsons, and Seinfeld), and the guy they got to be their "David Brent" is the hilarious Steve Carell. Early rumors decry the show as tripe. Oh well.