Developer: Greg Daniels
Cast: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Kate Flannery, Mindy Kaling, Creed Bratton, Oscar Nuñez, Paul Lieberstein, Ed Helms, Craig Robinson
This gently satirical and pathos-laden yet trouser-soilingly funny remake of the Gervais/Merchant BBC programme of the same title follows, in the form of a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary, the workers of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin, Inc Paper Company as they go about their daily routines, capturing the juvenile pranks and inane conversations that make their time there just about tolerable.
This frequently hilarious first season doesn’t stray far from its BBC source material, concentrating winningly on the sophomoric japes of the eponymous institution’s bored inhabitants, underlined with a dash of pathos.
The second season of this consistently funny and perceptive workplace comedy sees it gently surpass its BBC progenitor, as it gradually teases out fully rounded characters from behind their often misleading public facades, tickling the funny bone and caressing the emotions whilst it does so.
Jim’s move to Stanford proves to be short lived when his new branch is merged with his old one, awkwardly bringing to the fore past feelings and painful memories, in this entertaining if rather patchy third instalment of the increasingly silly workplace comedy, with the mixture of cringe-inducing humour, gentle satire, delicate character study, and pathos-laden romance being not quite so well balanced as before.
Jim and Pam have finally got together and Ryan has taken over from Jan at corporate, however it’s pretty much business as usual at Dunder Mifflin, with the office continuing to provide a fertile breeding ground for pranks, parties, unlikely romances, and occasionally even a little bit of work, in this consistently entertaining and delightfully silly fourth season.
Michael continues to insult and alienate just about everyone that he comes across, forever trying to be everyone’s friend, instigating wild ideas; yet, with sales figures confounding expectations, he manages to keep his job, but when a no-nonsense manager is appointed at corporate genuine tensions arise, in this consistently funny and slightly more restrained-than-previous fifth season.
A wedding, a birth, and a company buyout ensure that this sixth season is certainly one of the series more incident-packed years, but it is also probably its weakest (though certainly not weak), with a number of underwhelming episodes – particularly mid-season – which detract somewhat from its better moments, which are still abundant enough to recommend it. Iain.Stott