A documentary film crew is tasked with recording the daily lives of the employees of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The employees turn out to be a wide assortment of characters. I was never interested in the US version of The Office when it was first released: in fact it has taken me 15 years to watch it! I am a big fan of the UK version and figured the US version was just an Americanised rehash of the UK version and wouldn’t do it any justice.
Initially I was proved partially right as the Season 1 largely followed the UK series’ plot, down to some of the scenes and jokes. It was still very good though and showed enough originality to make me continue watching. I’m glad I did. From Season 2 the series finds its own way and what a way it is! Cleverly, charmingly funny but what sets it apart is the emotional and dramatic side. There are some wonderful story arcs and sub-plots, not least of which is the Jim-Pam story. This really is the spine around which the series is built, especially in the earlier seasons. Their story is an incredibly engaging one, made even more captivating by an incredible, off-the-charts-level chemistry between the two actors, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer. Where to watch the office?
This is not to say that the office characters and actors play second fiddle. Steve Carrell is fantastic as the boss Michael Scott – very funny and perfect for the role – as is Rainn Wilson as Jim’s nemesis, Dwight Schrute. Even the secondary long-term characters have their chance to shine, there is that much breadth to proceedings. Some of the shine did go off the show when Steve Carrell left. Will Farrell didn’t work as a temporary replacement. However, the James Spader-Ed Helms period was great and saw the series almost back to its best. In the final season you could see that it had run its course though. There was never a bad episode but the comedy didn’t feel as fresh and clever as before and the emotional side was missing. This was all made up for with a brilliant, nostalgic, emotional final episode that brought everything full circle. Fantastic way to end a series.