I’ve been kinda busy the last few weeks, mainly with work things, so I haven’t had a chance to write.. Those of you hoping this was the next trivia.. um… sorry? Rules are rules, and I need a post before the next question, so this is the post. I kinda lost some of my steam already, as it’s past 2:30 am, and the big thing I wanted to write about was more or less nullified by last night.. but oh well. So the first thing I wanted to talk about was The Office….
As most of you know, The Office was a BBC show.. a fake documentary about a paper company office, and the wretched boss that everyone loved to hate. It was extremely well done, rather funny, but also had what I considered to be a really gripping story. This was one of those shows were when I watched one.. I had to watch them all.. that very moment. I remember watching the first few episodes, and not quite getting it, but really wanting to watch the next episode. By episode 3 I was completely hooked, and when Joel came over with the second season, we just watched one after another until the whole thing was done. Okay, so far: All is good. The Office is a really good show, and I like it a lot. Now comes the rub. You might have noticed a new show that had the pilot episode air last Tuesday: The Office. This is an Americanized version of the BBC show, with Steve Carell starring as the boss. I was curious, and I really liked the BBC version, which had me a bit stuck. One the one hand, I like TV, so a new show whose concept I already appreciated was a good thing. But on the other hand, here was something that was nice, neat, and complete, and I just knew American TV was going to ruin it. And that bothered me. So anyway, the first episode aired, and I watched it… It was awful.
Now, let me explain. First of all, if you saw it, and also saw the BBC version, you might have noticed that the first episode of each were almost exactly the same, with a few carefully chosen rewrites: Common US slang replacing Brit slang (“he sucked” replaced “He was rubbish”), American Pop culture references added (6 Million Dollar Man, “Whazzaaap!”, etc.), and minor drug references removed. You might also have noticed that the acting was for the most part not good, and certainly not believable. Almost none of the characters seemed genuine… which is really a problem in a show that’s supposed to look like a documentary. I think one of the greatest, and most gripping things about the BBC version was just how believable the characters were. You really bought into each character, and they all behaved as you’d expect them to behave. When someone was sad, they really seemed sad, etc.. You believed them as individuals, and you believed the chemistry between them. That just didn’t seem to be the case in the US version. For me, this was most notable in 2 people. First, there’s Pam (the US version of BBC’s Dawn, the receptionist). There’s one scene where Pam is interviewed, and it seems like she’s just reciting lines she’s reading just off camera. There’s no emotion, and no real meaning behind anything she says. This same scene plays out so differently in the BBC version, where you get a really good glimpse at Dawn as a person just by how she says those few lines. So too at the end of the episode, where Pam is supposed to be really upset, and eventually crying. In the BBC version, it’s believable. In the US version, it seems sitcom-esque.. She’s fake crying, and you’re waiting for the wacky sidekick to show up and fall onto the coffee table or something. It just didn’t work, and as a result, Pam just seemed kinda vapid as a character. The other place it was really noticeable to me was with the main character, Micheal Scott (David Brent in the BBC version). Here’s what it boiled down to for me, I think. David Brent is played by Ricky Gervais.. and from what I saw of him on that show, and on other shows (interviews on Letterman, etc.), Ricky is David Brent, just to an extreme. If you’ve watched the BBC version, you know that David Brent is an obnoxious, self-absorbed idiot. I really think that to play David, Ricky Gervais didn’t have to really create a character as much as he just had to play himself, only without any of the normal restraints that people put on themselves to make them decent people, and not complete assholes. The best example I can think of at 3 in the morning is this: Think of Jimmy Fallon’s character in “Fever Pitch” (I know you haven’t seen it yet, and weren’t even planning on it, but you’ve seen the commercials, so you know what the guy is like) In that movie Fallon plays a psycho Red Sox fan. To play that, Fallon didn’t have to create a whole new persona.. he’s already a big Red Sox fan.. that’s already part of him.. He just had to take that part, and blow it up to an extreme. I think that’s how it was with Ricky Gervais becoming David Brent… But now we have Steve Carell… Steve Carell is well known for his work on the Daily Show, and playing the retarded weatherman in Anchorman. Put simply, he’s lovable, and funny. We know this already. Now he’s playing a character that is completely hateable, and while he thinks he’s funny, he’s anything but… This being the case, Steve has to try extra hard as Michael Scott for us to believe he is the way he’s behaving.. and for me, anyway, in this first episode, he just tries way to hard, and it all falls flat. I didn’t believe him, and it just felt like he was playing a part for a TV camera. He’s delivering these lines that I believed when David Brent said them, but now they just sound fake, and kinda stupid. So now you have acting that seems faked, characters you don’t believe, and interactions that seem unnatural.. all leading to what I can only describe as an embarrassed type feeling I felt while watching this first episode. It just didn’t feel like a documentary anymore.. it felt like a really unfunny sitcom with no laugh track, and fairly uninteresting characters.
Now I said the big thing I wanted to write about was nullified last night… and this would be it. The second episode of the Office was on Tuesday night, and I was over at Kristin‘s place, and we ended up watching it…and I thought it was excellent! First and foremost, it was something new. It contained a few scenes inspired by the BBC version, and the main plot was actually a conglomeration of 2 or 3 episodes as well, but it was something new, and you know what? It worked! It was funny, and the characters all seemed a ton more believable. Steve Carell as Michael Scott seemed a lot more believable, as did Pam, and others. The show was funny, and really did wonders towards setting this show apart as being something different from the BBC version. Now don’t get me wrong, the situation is still pretty much the same.. overarching story plots are so far still the exact same as well. But if they can make more episodes like this, that take that idea, and make it something new, this show might actually be something to pay attention to each week. I have to say, watching it got me pretty excited about the next show. I have high hopes that they continue branching out, and making these characters unique, rather than just new names for the same people we already saw.
With two shows viewed, now, there are some things I think I can say with a decent amount of certainty.. First and foremost: The American replacement for the BBC’s Gareth, named “Dwight” doesn’t quite fit. I’m hoping they do something with him to make him less of a Gareth clone, because thus far it doesn’t seem to be working. Gareth had a certain quality about him where just by looking at him, you knew what he was like.. and he played it perfectly. Dwight doesn’t have that, and just seems kinda “blah” as a result. Second: this version needs to stop hitting you over the head with the “The boy likes the girl” stuff. Seriously… the BBC version handled that whole storyline so well, and this version is just killing it. I don’t know is American TV simply refuses to exist without the “boy chasing girl” angle being first and foremost or what, but it’s to the point already where I want the relationship to fail, just so he’ll stop being such a little girl about it.
The Da Vinci Code
I finished the Da Vinci Code the other day. Ha! No, I didn’t read it. I listened to an unabridged version of it on audio cd. First off I have to say, it really made the drive to and from work fly by, and made the drive interesting, even in the morning, when I was exhausted, like I will be tomorrow morning. Now the obvious question is “Was it good?” And I don’t really know how to answer it. It was pretty gripping, and I found myself wanting rides to last longer, so I could hear more of it. I listened to it an entire afternoon while cleaning my room, and I just burned through disc after disc.. so that seems like a good sign as well. Heading into the book, there were a few things I was really excited about, just from what I had heard about it. One, was that it dealt with the Priori of Scion, which I had read, and seen a decent amount about on the discovery channel, etc. I found that whole idea and the stuff surrounding it pretty fascinating. Second was the whole “This is what this painting really means, because you see this hear, that’s actually this…” etc.. So the book started out, and right away it was pretty engrossing.. The whole mystery evolved, and new points are added, etc.. So you know, so far so good. As the book went on, they tossed in plenty of that “this painting means this” stuff, and some of it I found interesting, other parts of it I found laughable, but whatever, it was still entertaining for a work of fiction. So I was really into the book by the time we finally get introduced to the Priori of Scion.. and that’s the very moment when the book really started to disappoint me. I’m not sure if it was because of the amount of “truth” the book placed on the Priori account, or the many just plain wrong things it stated as facts, or what, but from that point on, the book seemed less interesting, and a lot less believable. Besides the factual errors the book asserted as facts to move along the story/it’s agenda, the thing that really bothered me was the inconsistencies of some of the characters, Sophi, in particular. This girl is a cryptographer working for the police, and from all accounts made early on in the book, a very intelligent woman, capable of handling stressful situations calmly and smoothly, and with a great deal of charm and cleverness. But then all of a sudden she becomes either a complete emotion wreck or an utter retard for giant stretches, for no good reason.. She has to been spoon-fed all sorts of information that a child could understand, and all she can do is sit there, repeating a thing or two, acting completely overwhelmed and confused. Now, for a book that’s trying to sell this idea that men and the church have ruined the world, and “woman” is the answer to just about everything, making your lead female character a flake seems like a bad move. By the end, it was pretty hard to slice through all the Goddess worship/Feminist propaganda, and the anti-church hate speak to get to the story.. and the very final scene made me laugh out loud it was so corny and stupid, but the story itself was rather entertaining. I have to say, though, having now gone through the book, I can not understand why it’s such a big deal. The ideas in this book are not new, nor are they all that clever. I suspect part of it is because people are generally lazy, so when they are presented with something like this, rather than doing any research, they just kinda accept whatever the book says as fact.. even though it’s a work of fiction. From what I’ve read, the author hasn’t exactly helped the situation, but based solely on this book, I suspect he wishes he had been born a woman, so maybe he’s got he’s own problems to work through. Things like this always bother me. I guess it shouldn’t have to be every entertainers job to explain that works of fiction mean that when they say things, it could either be real, or it could be made up, but at the same time.. there are a lot of really stupid people out there, and they’re just going to assume it’s true unless they’re told otherwise.. and if your work of fiction said “and they’ll tell you it’s not true, even though it really is”, it’s just going to confuse them. Sigh.. People are dumb.
NCAA and Sports and Misc.
I don’t know if you’ve been watching the tournament, but I have to say the games this year have been some of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time.. maybe ever. This past weekend, with the Illinois game, and MSU… Man.. It’s been fun to watch. Speaking of sports, I played basketball last Wednesday withJplant, Tuuk, and Joel, and that was a ton of fun.. The knee did alright. I felt almost as quick as I remembered, but my jump was noticeably affected, and trying to stand my ground was a lost cause. So the quickness is there, but the strength still needs quite a bit of work. I played catch for a while with Tuuk, Joel, and Mark on Sunday, when it was awesome outside (Did you just say “awesome”?), and that went fairly well as well, though I had a bit of a limp afterwords, and my knee has been a bit sore since. I think I really just need to keep at it, and get my body used to increased activity. Speaking of which, work is doing this thinger with exercising, etc.. which as far as I can tell isn’t really a competition, but in my mind is one anyway. So you add that to my whole desire to get back into playing shape by softball, and I think I’ll be more faithful with my biking and working out these next few weeks. Note the biking numbers continuing to rise steadily.
I should sleep, as it’s already 4:15, but I’ve been working on some lists of things I’d like to write about if I got the chance. Kinda along the same lines as my favorite music cds that I wrote a while back. I really enjoyed thinking about/writing that, so I figured I’d do something like that soon. Well, anyway, now I should sleep. Your trivia will be up soon, I promise.