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October 13, 2015

The Office: Sexual Harassment

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Sep 27th 2005 11:59PM

office2We begin this episode with Michael (Steve Carell) talking about his proclivity of e-mail forwarding of risque material to his employees. In fact, he refers to himself as "The King of Forwards". Michael's long-time buddy (his "Best Friend Forever") Todd Packer shows up and, as the "Finchy" character in the British version, proceeds to offend nearly everyone in the office with his sexually explicit jokes. A short time later, Toby from Human Resources appears in suggests to Michael that there should be a review of the company's sexual harassment policy for all employees. Michael resists because he feels the office environment would take a downturn.

Before the meeting, Michael ventures down to the warehouse to get a "killer joke" to use during the presentation. The warehouse workers begin goofing on him, and he decides to walk in on the meeting with a blow-up doll. The meeting soon breaks up, but Toby says that if anyone has any questions they can come and see him. Dwight (the "Gareth" character from the British version) goes over to Toby and asks where the clitoris is.

Michael then shows a video on sexual harassment to some employees when the company lawyers show up. He is still resisting the idea of toning down the sexual innuendo by asking, "Can we afford to lose e-mail forwards?" After further discussion, Michael announces that because of the rigid sexual harassment guidelines he and his staff "can no longer be friends" and this is his "retirement from comedy". Of course, this doesn't last too long as he begins flirting with matronly Phyllis while Pam's mom shows up and is slightly taken aback at the goings-on.

This was an uneven episode for me. The subject was funny, but I thought the writers were trying too hard to push the envelope. It could have been a little more subtle but, again, I don't want to continue the comparisons between this version and the British version. In addition, the Dwight character is just too creepy. I'm sure many of us have worked with someone who may be considered a little "eccentric" but I think Dwight is a little too far off the charts. Someone who acts like he does in an office environment would have been shown the door a long time ago.

In any event, tonight's episode was OK, nothing great. Hopefully, the budding Jim-Pam romance will get some more attention as well as the toning down of Dwight.  

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Well said, bdure! I have seen both and enjoy both for their unique qualities. I wish fans of the British version could lay aside their bias and give the US version a decent chance. They may share a premise but they ARE different shows, both funny as hell. I identify more with the US version, though, and think it's a real gem. Far better than most US sitcoms, anyway. And the actors NAIL their moments every time. Love it.

September 29 2005 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't quite understand the snobbery of the BBC Office fans toward the U.S. version. As someone who saw the U.S. version first (hey, call me lame if you want, but we haven't had BBC America that long), I love it. Carell's character isn't quite as blustery as Gervais' -- I think they both fit their respective shows. The U.S. version does more with Jim and Pam, both of whom are tremendous actors doing a lot with subtlety. I sense that most of the Gervais/Office cult are coming into the U.S. version looking specifically for things that make it inferior. That's their loss. Of course, it's also OUR loss if their twisted elitism leads to poor ratings and causes this wonderful show to be canceled. Get over yourselves, people. (Oh yeah -- and get over yourselves, idiotic censors in Lexington. My sympathies to you guys who didn't get to see it.)

September 29 2005 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Binary man, I completely agree with you. I watched the pilot of the fake Office last season and wanted to vomit. I got addicted to the BBC series while studying in London, and I've since pretty much memorized every line. Last night was the first time I bothered to ever watch it again, since the pilot was so god-awful I had refused to watch any more. But, I watched Earl and was too lazy to change the channel, so I decided to give it a shot. This show is just flat. It doesn't work the way the British series did, and it's very, very painful to watch the actors try to do blatant and poor ripoffs of the mannerisms of the characters in the original. The only times things worked even remotely were when Carrell (the worst offender on the show) dropped the Gervais impressions and did his own thing. Too bad that only happened like twice. The lifted lines and scenarios from the original scripts feel out of place and forced. This show may have worked as an adaptation, but they're trying too hard to be a direct ripoff, and it doesn't come off well at all. I was hoping on a fresh viewing on a new season that my opinion would change, but unfortunately not. I won't be going out of my way to watch this again.

September 28 2005 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd like to add to the outrage at living in Lexington and having the local network make our decision for us. They have no problem airing low-quality garbage, but something that might actually be groundbreaking, signed off on by the network censors, must be stopped at all costs.

September 28 2005 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this was actually the first of the "fake" Office episodes i have seen. since i basically refused to at first based on the crappy promos i saw last year... but the preview made it pretty clear which original episode they were lifting. so i decided to watch it... "graphic nature" ...rrrright. this was soooo tame compared to the original BBC Office episode it isn't even funny. in fact... it wasn't funny. it was like a sissy ultra-toned-down non-funny show. the monkey email getting forwarded? way tamer than the original email. everything the fake finch said... way tamer. mostly i spent the majority of the episode thinking the pop culture references were lame. and trying to figure out which fake character is analogous to which real character. okay. maybe i sort of chuckled twice. sort of.

September 28 2005 at 7:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes..I am also in Lexington and very much looking forward to the second episode of the new season only to see them repeat ACCESS HOLLYWOOD. I didn't see anything yet in the news today about any other NBC affiliates doing this. Even though we are in the south, Lexington is a fairly liberal city. I was suprised by this move. The NBC affiliate here has never impressed me all that much. How about showing it at 2am so we can at least record it and watch is later??

September 28 2005 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The NBC affiliate in Lexington, KY, (WLEX, channel 18) refused to air tonight's episode due to its "graphic nature" (that's what they said on the ticker at the bottom of the screen) so I did not get to see it. Did this happen anywhere else in the country? Does anyone think it was any worse than sex discussions on other sitcoms?

September 28 2005 at 1:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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