The series arc in the British Office

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Although it’s not encapsulated in the episodes of the Office we have to watch for this class, one thing that particularly interests me is the difference between the run of the British and American Offices. Although the UK version ran for just two successful seasons, the American version is now in the middle of its sixth.

When the American Office came out, it was clearly closely based on the original UK show. In fact, the two pilots were almost the same script, and many of the major plot points in the first season were lifted directly from the UK version. (In fact, the phrase used at the time was “adapted for an American audience,” which seemed to consist mostly of removing the characters’ accents.)

As the season went on, and as the second season began, the two shows started to seem significantly more different. As one example, Michael Scott became a very different character from David Brent. Most importantly, though, the British version developed its overarching story with an endpoint in mind. This idea of following a series to its conclusion is almost alien to American television, where a show is either “picked up” or “canceled,” but virtually never “finished.” On one hand, I like getting as much of a show that I like as I can get, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the most recent four seasons of the US Office. However, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something when all of my shows end not by resolving resolutely, but simply by petering out.

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