The shut down. You might have noticed I’ve avoided, mostly, political shtuff. Mostly because it’s being covered 24/7 by experts and randy amateurs alike. I put randy in there because I think it does make your garden variety political blogger a bit horny to be living in these interesting times.
Also, I don’t really have anything new to add to the American stew that is, well, everything right now. 30 days or so of this. Trump said he’d own the shut down. So far, he’s blamed it on exactly the group we all knew he would. The Democrats! Yep.
You write such things, realizing they’ve been written a bazillion bazillion times before. Dead horse. Dead horse here!
Okay. Let’s take a hard turn toward the BBC’s The Office.
I found the entire show, on DVD, at the local thrift store. For next to nothing. Four bucks. Mint condition. Beat that, Ama-sucks. I am not a Ricky Gervais fan but I do know of this show. It was mentioned, briefly, on Gilmore Girls, during the Rory Barbie Yalie years. That the original British show was far superior to the Yank one. It took her several time watching it to get all the jokes. Ha ha. Rory, you’re such a TV-watching genius or somethin’!
Full disclosure– I have seen the American version of this. I hated it. It got tiresome fast. I didn’t care about Pam and Jim. Dwight came across as highly killable; the cops would look the other way as I killed him with a dull spork. Steve Carell’s boss guy, I now see, was softened a great deal. Wow.
The BBC Office goes for the jugular, while the American one goes for…a pale imitation. I said it. There it is.
I watched the BBC The Office with my stomach hurting. [I binge-watched this. Mistake. Mistake!]
It was about the darkest comedy I’ve ever had to suffer through. [I mean that in such a good way.]
Gervais’s hapless, insufferable David Brent lumbering through two seasons and one special just about finished me off. When you nearly start screaming at whatever you’re cringe-watching…GET A CLUE YOU WANKER.
I just. I CAN’T EVEN!
I’ve worked with people like this! I’ve had to sit through those soul-crushing trainings. The skin-crawling team building exercises. Where you sit there wishing for death. Actual death.
Death, here I am! Save me, death! Those kind of meetings. Oh yeah. Holy hell.
Oh! Their faces as the mockumentary camera/s panned the people–
actors, yes, but far too realistically done to not think at times this is a real documentary. Unlike the American counterpart, where you never believed there was a camera crew catching people being slowly smushed by their work environment–
their faces as carefully blank as a doll visage. The little body twitches. The slight eye rolls with each other over the more horrible parts of the trainings.
Now of course there’s a doomed office romance. Tim and Dawn. It’s just as sad, ordinary, interesting at times, painfully awful and ‘oh holy hell, been there’ as one would wish.
There’s the odd duck who’s very good with all this structure and mindless dronery. Gareth. Now, the first time Gareth appears, I thought, is he meant to look so ill? He’s a very tall actor [ Mackenzie Crook] who’s quite thin, and the skin about his giant eyes seemed purple and bruised. That’s what I noticed, as well as how ANNOYING Gareth can be.
I looked him up. He played the tall skinny one-eyed pirate with the wooden eye in the POTC franchise.
I was wondering where I’d seen him, as you do, when binge-watching thrift store DVD’s.
He sat by Tim Canturbury, played by the ever lovely and talented Martin Freeman, and the two worked so well off each other. Tim amuses himself by playing pranks on Gareth, who’s a bit of a military fanatic, as well as being awkward socially. [But who is not in this little tiny fish bowl world they live in?]
We get the stapler in gelatin bit right off! Gareth is disgusted! Dance, puppets, dance, in your office stage set! That tiny glimpse of rebellion and misplaced rage under that somewhat harmless prank. You notice. You notice!
Tim and Dawn, of course, shared sexual chemistry, flirt gently with each other but Dawn [Lucy Davis] has the prerequisite AWFUL BOYFRIEND FROM HELL. Lee! Who has basically sucked away her dreams, her ambitions to be an illustrator and a lot of her self-esteem. That was also hard to watch. It was done so casually, more with thrown off lines muttered or tossed away as if no big deal at all, sent toward her. Her slow-burning rage as she accepts this as just her lot. That resignation tinged with ‘Is this my fucking life??’ expressions. Lucy Davis nailed Dawn’s ability to say more with her glances than her polite, very soft words.
Tim makes an utter fool of himself over her, the camera catches all of it. He does this twice! We sympathize with him and her. Tim also gets a sorta galfriend but he breaks up with her. And Gareth hovering nearby waiting to pounce on Rachel [Tim’s galfriend] makes for laughs and no no no, he didn’t just say he doesn’t do sloppy seconds but he’d put on a condom and do her anyway…holy hell. Seriously, that was delivered as if he had just offered her a giant compliment. It was played very straight, almost shy yet…ugh. You marvel at Gareth’s persistence yet gag at that persistence.
Is our government still shut down? Okay, yep, it is. Back to something warm and fluffy!
However. Ah. The heart of darkness in this office helltopia.
We have some sympathy for Tim. We have a smidge of understanding for Gareth. We root for Dawn to wake the fuck up already, the guy’s cray cray for ya. We make frowny puzzled faces at Keith. We have no idea what the names are of pretty much anyone in that paper selling place. We’re not even sure what that paper place does with all that paper. Everything’s electronic…paper is on the way out, right?
Slough is such a bad name for a town!
Ah, the heart of darkness is named David.
We cannot find the same empathy for the ‘boss from hell’, as the mockumentary labels him when the project gets finished, then shown on BBC2.
Not for realsies, of course. Remember these people ARE NOT REAL THANK BABY JESUS.
David Brent. He leers, he laughs, he tries to be popular, he puts his foot in it, he tries far too hard. He has such an inflated sense of his own self. He plays to the camera aimed at him instead of being himself.
We get to see the slow take down of this beastly character. The inevitable take down of this ghastly man who reminds me of…Donald Trump.
Anything David Brent can do to get praise he does. He bullies those around him. He inserts himself into situations where he’s not wanted. He thinks he’s charming. He thinks people love him. At the end of the day, he has no real friends, just people who tolerate him. People who make fun of him to his face that he accepts because he wants so desperately to be one of the cool boys in the office.
One of the most gut-turning scenes arrived late in the series. During the ‘what happened to them–where are they now’ ender, David has been banned from the paper products office. Watch to see why!
He does a speech about how everyone wants him there at the office. People won’t even look at him, the silence breaks your ear drums.
He exhorts people to go for a drink with him to show the manager that people don’t wish him banned…and no one moves a muscle or looks at David.
He then begs for drinks the next night, the night after that. Until it’s the pregnant desk mate of Tim who says no one wants to go have drinks with you, no one likes you. Tim then predictably mumbles he’ll meet David for a drink later.
I just. I’m cringing even writing about it.
To stand there, among people you worked with, who hate you so. Without them saying a word or even looking at you. Devastating.
Yet. You can’t muster up much more than YOU DESERVED THAT YOU BLOODY WANKER.
Does he learn from this? No. Does he learn from anything he mostly does to himself? No! Kind of like the current POTUS.
Dark comedy. If that’s your cup of arsenic and belladonna, then do I have a show for you.