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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 11:27 GMT
Office remake has its US TV debut
Steve Carell in The Office
Steve Carell takes the lead role in the US version of The Office
The US remake of hit British sitcom The Office made its debut on US TV on Thursday night.

The show received mixed reviews from American critics ahead of its premiere on the NBC network.

All hailed it as an improvement on the last high-profile remake, Coupling, and some said it was NBC's most "original" and "creative" comedy for years.

But many criticised Steve Carell, who takes the role of the boss, for lacking the "aching subtlety" of Ricky Gervais.

Gervais co-wrote and starred in the highly successful original BBC version.

In the US remake, Gervais' character, David Brent, has become Michael Scott and the action has moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Ricky Gervais in The Office
Ricky Gervais won two Golden Globe awards last year
It is still set in a paper company and its scenario and style are heavily based on the British original. But it has been tailored for a US audience by King of the Hill co-creator Greg Daniels.

The Hollywood Reporter said Carell, who has appeared in the films Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, was "nothing short of superb in crafting his own version of a boss".

Time magazine wrote: "It's ironic that NBC's most original sitcom in years is a remake, but who cares? The Office is a daring, unflinching take on very American workplace tensions."

But the New York Daily News declared the show was "neither daring nor funny".

There's a menace to Carell's character that I didn't want to feel
Los Angeles Times
"Compared to the BBC version, in which every portrayal of... four key character types is utterly perfect, NBC's version is so diluted there's little left but muddy water," its critic wrote.

The Los Angeles Times said the show made the voyage from the UK "without some of its luggage intact". "Lost in translation is the sadness behind the characters," it said.

"There's a menace to Carell's character that I didn't want to feel, a sociopathic, beady-eyed quality that's too cartoon, and that gives the show a colder edge."

Entertainment Weekly magazine's critic described the star's performance as "damaging".

There are a few reasons to give this show a chance
Washington Post
"Carell's manager is such a doofus, such a plastic man, that this entertaining American version may never reach that deeper layer of humour," the review read.

And the Washington Post said Carell, who also appeared in TV satire The Daily Show, "overdoes it at times" and was "no match for the wonderful Ricky Gervais".

"Yet there are a few reasons to give this show a chance," it read. "At times, it nails the banality and ridiculousness of office culture, and the supporting cast is top-notch."

Awards glory

Gervais won two Golden Globe awards in Los Angeles for his original version. He and co-creator Stephen Merchant are executive producers on the US show.

The Office began in 2001 in the UK and became the country's most popular new sitcom by the time it ended in December 2003.

As well as his Golden Globes, Gervais and his show dominated the comedy categories at the Bafta TV Awards from 2002 to 2004, winning six trophies in three years.

British fans will be able to watch the US version on BBC Three later this year.

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26 Jan 04 |  Entertainment


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