Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Office US review all seasons

Most likely when other Brits heard there was to be a US version of The Office, we groaned. The UK version was an absolute classic but like so many UK comedies, it was far too short with just 15 episodes over 2 seasons and a double Christmas special.

Despite my scepticism I gave the US Office a try. The first season was shorter than the following seasons. It was a kind of "feeling out" season where the characters found themselves and much of the dialogue was taken from the UK version. It didn't all work but there was enough to suggest that this could be a great idea, so a next season was booked in.

From season 2 to season 7 on The US Office, I would say the show was a solid 8 out of 10. The characters like Dwight got better. Andy Bernard was introduced for an extra dimension and everything just seemed to click with the supporting cast.

The boss, Michael (played by Steve Carell) is infuriating in his selfishness and stupidity. It was unrealistic that he could get away with screwing up so much, but ultimately that is what made the show work. Steve Carell left the show in season 8 and at first it was an exciting relief.

With Will Ferrell Taking over for a while before a range of other actors interviewed for the bosses job when Will Ferrell's character went into a coma. Eventually Andy was made the boss and his character was a much watered down version of Michael Scott.

It was Michael's lack of self awareness that made the character great. In the same way that Gervais's David Brent was also unaware of his reality. When Andy took over the show lost a big part of what held it together. Dwight helped save things by becoming more prominent, but when Michael left it was the beginning of the end. To be continued when I finish the last seasons...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Short Poppies Review - Awful to Amazing

Rhys Darby came to my attention in Flight of the Conchords, his role as the band manager was one of the highlights of the show. That led me to check out his live DVD which was awesome, showcasing some excellent physical comedy with sounds effects.

Then yesterday I heard he had recently starred in a new comedy series called Short Poppies. The reason I wanted to write this Short Poppies review so quickly is because it sucks. It sucks so bad that I doubt I will get to the end of the season. (see below the Youtube clip where I update the review to include episodes 4 onwards).

The premise is simple and nothing new. A faux documentary team follows round a character for a few days. The idea is that the character is funny to watch. The problem is that the characters are awful and just not funny. Whoever wrote this got it badly wrong, I am guessing it is Rhys as he is listed as the creator in IMDb.

The closest thing to Short Poppies is the Australian Chris Lilley creation We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year. Lilley's characters were a bit hit and miss but there were enough moments of hilarity to justify follow up series. Rhys Darby has started badly. Despite good ratings on IMDb, this show should not be continued in my humble opinion.

Rhys Darby is awesome but it is obvious he can't write good comedy or create great characters. He works best in the naive, 80's style nerd that we saw in the Flight of the Conchords and in his Hollywood appearance Yes Man. I hope this series doesn't hurt his chances of getting more work in Hollywood or other comedy projects as he can be hilarious. Below is a clip of his live show as it is just not worth posting anything from Short Poppies...

Rhys Darby's Short Poppies Review Update

Well well well. The first two episodes were so awful that it took me a while to garner up the might to watch the third. It was just as bad, which led me to angrily write the above review.

A while later the series was still sitting there in my unwatched list. "OK one last chance". WOW: probably one of the best episodes of comedy I have seen ever. Seriously! And I am a comedy fanatic. Episode 4 features an old lady who doesn't complain, she "criticises". It is amazing observational comedy and immediately had me giggling. This is exactly how this type of comedy should aspire to be.

Next up was episode 5 which brought back the familiar character Bill Napier, the park ranger briefly seen on Rhys's live DVD. This was also a pretty good effort.

Then the show lost me again in episode 6 with a really crappy character. The seventh episode got me high on laughter again with the super "dodgy lawyer" Rhod Gilbert. A really carefree, bad lawyer who loves drink and cars and crap jokes. Good stuff.

The final episode was an airing of the documentary so it featured all the characters and a little of a new posh executive guy. Not bad.

So all in all I have utterly mixed feelings now. in fact I'm going to rate each episode in a world's first because this series polarised me so much:

1 "Terry Pole"  0   - Utter crap
2 "Steve Whittle"  0 - Embarrassingly bad comedy
3 "Ron Taylor" 0 - Awful
4 "Mary Ledbetter" 10 - Will be treasured by me
5 "Bill Napier" 8 - Very funny
6 "Louise Cooper" 1 - Just plain bad
7 "Rhod Gilbert" 8 - Excellent
8 "David Farrier"6 - Good effort

So I will be deleting all but episodes 4,5,7 and will probably keep 8 too as it features the good ones and was quite a feat to pull off. Thank christ we have moved on from VHS to downloads or I would of been spending hours over the next few years fast forwarding over the crap.

I hope to see the 3 characters I loved in a season two. Maybe a move to the States would be appropriate as Bill Napier has accepted a job there? Maybe working with one/some of the US comedy guys will be enough to polish this up into a quality series.

Here is some of my favourite Mary Leadbetter: