Thursday, June 23, 2005

You don’t really want to find yourself in the position of having to form these words, but, SCHEMBRI WAS RIGHT. And I am glad.

It was with decidedly unhealthy trepidation that I monitored the approach of the US version of The Office. Obviously, the questions abounded, mostly, WHY? No really, why? And then some grumblings about damned Americans who have to make shows in their own image and can’t just enjoy things in their original form and insist on ruining everything that is sacred and true… you get the drift. But honestly, I wasn’t going to skip the show just because of my reservations about endorsing a dubious kind of mentality which can’t enjoy things “where folks don’t talk like us.” Because deep down in my tiny anxious heart, I was saying “But this isn’t like all those other let’s-make-an-American-version shows, is it. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant worked on it, and you saw with your own eyes that Ricky endorsed it on Letterman. And so isn’t it possible that the transplanting process opened up space for creativity, and some fresh intelligent perfect shit? Does it necessarily have to be bad? I mean, look at these guys.

You love them. You trust them. They pulled the plug on their show because they didn’t want it to get stale. THEY HAVE INTEGRITY. And are brilliant. So how could this be bad? These guys don’t do bad!…OH GOD, it had better not be bad. I can’t bear the devastation of seeing them lowered in my esteem!” Etc etc etc. A little over the top? Shut up! Anyway, in the midst of all this hand wringing and nervous tension came Schembri, and he made it all okay. Yes, you heard me. In last week’s Green Guide he reviewed the first screening - which would show the pilot followed by the first episode - and he said the pilot was TERRIBLE, “merely a wince-worthy copy of the original’s first episode” [he was right], but that the first proper episode, Diversity Day, showed “just how hard Office co-creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who oversaw the Yankification as executive producers, have worked with the cast to get it right. Essentially, what they have done is taken all those priceless elements that made The Office great – the awkward pauses, the flat jokes, the chronic self-delusion – and adapted them with original scripts to the American setting” [again, he was right]. Last week when I read that, I felt a great weight lift off me. ORIGINAL SCRIPTS. ORIGINAL SCRIPTS. And I didn’t care that I was relying on Schembri for my last lunge of hope. He was right. He was right. That is all. I especially loved that Mexican bit, and of course, the way ‘Jim’ closed his eyes when ‘Pam’ fell asleep on his shoulder. Excuse me. I’m going to watch it again. TOTALLY HOOKED ALREADY.

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