Monday, 7 September 2009

The Office still smells the same

I've recently been reminded how good The Office is (the original UK show). Apart from being very funny it's a perfect representation of a drab, dull office. Sometimes it's so realistic you can smell it - photocopying, over-head projectors, crisps for lunch. There's no attempt to put any gloss on it: people arrive in the morning, do a bit of typing, go home in the evening. It looks like a depressing place to be, but it's compelling to watch. Tim and Dawn are presented as the relatable characters; you want them to escape from boredom as you'd want yourself to, even though they can't entirely manage it. Hearing them speak about their ambitions is completely and realistically tragic. The camera moves around the place as a physical thing that the characters react and play too. When Tim looks into it with his trademark 'what am I doing here?' face it's like he's asking a direct question.

And David Brent, obviously, is a brilliant creation. He plays up to the camera, is false, deluded and self-aggrandising. Then in the second season he is given some unexpected depth. He does, after all, just want to be popular and begins to notice that he isn't. His confidence is shattered with jealousy and disappointment. Personally, I wanted the Swindon lot to like him, I wanted him to succeed some of the time. The writing and acting has to be this good for you to feel sympathetic towards a horrible person. He's funny because he isn't, and I wonder whether I would still laugh at him if I was actually there. Putting the camera as an extra character means that we'll never know what he's like without it. The entire time he is talking though the television.

I'm convinced it's a masterpiece.

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