Saturday, June 3, 2006


The French version of Ricky Gervais' 'The Office' was panned by the English newspapers when it debuted. But in the long run, they don't matter and neither do their readers. 'Le Bureau' is being championed by those that count the most - the viewers.

And it looks like British newspapers have their ink-stained noses out of joint that their opinions didn't sway the French audience. According to The Guardian, "French newspapers have eagerly embraced this 'spineless, misogynistic, racist, irritating cynic' declaring him the perfect embodiment of a French beauf -- a vulgar, chauvinistic Mr Average who tries too hard."

Which I think would be the point.

What I'm happy about the most is that even though there are three versions of the shows ensconced in Toobworld, none of them invalidates the presence of the other. Unike many other international variations on an original concept - say, with characters like "Inspector Maigret" and "Sherlock Holmes", - the characters have been totally changed and adapted for their target audiences. So there's no problem with them living in the same world.

And even though their lives might mirror one another, there would be no cosmic disturbance in Toobworld should David Brent, Michael Scott, and Gilles Triquet ever meet up at some international conference on paper sales.

(If I'm not mistaken, eventually they could meet an Indian version of the paper company office manager.)

This is all more in keeping with the tradition set by the adaptation of 'Til Death Us Do Part' into 'All In The Family' and 'Steptoe And Son' into 'Sanford And Son'.

And there might even be a boomerang effect when it comes to 'The Office'. Ricky Gervais and his writing partner Stephen Merchant got two highly-praised seasons out of the concept, plus a special Christmas episode and a wrap-up "Where Are They Now?" coda.

But now, having seen how popular the Americanized version has become, and having written an episode for it, Gervais and Merchant are mulling the idea of reviving their series and adapting the American scripts for use in their version.

Not sure how I feel about that; I do prefer the American version over the British one, (just barely!), mostly because I'm not comfortable with TV that makes my skin crawl with embarrassment for the characters I'm watching. (I have to leave the room when Mary Richards starts "singing" that torch song "Quarter To Three" for Lou on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'.

At any rate, it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.


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