The heart of BBC's The Office was Tim. Tim wanders through a job that he hopes is beneath him while longing for a bit of respect. And, of course, Dawn. Tim is earnest and kind and supportive. He's funny and sweet. The kind of man many women say they want while they date a serious of bikers, guitarists, or doctors.
Dawn leads Tim along for a full season. In the British sense, at least. The two seasons of the Office come to about 16 episodes, total. So, Dawn leads Tim along for the first season. Tim gets wise and dates a hottie in season 2. Dawn gets jealous, gives Tim a meaningful kiss, then goes back to her fiance after Tim breaks it off with the new gal. It's hard, even now, for me to disguise my resentment for Dawn.
Tim finds out Dawn is going to the States. On camera but off mic, he asks her to stay. She says no. Tim goes back to his desk, humiliated, and summons the grace to put his mic back on and tell the audience that Dawn said no.
It's so brilliantly done. So understated rather than over-dramatized. Honest instead of saccharine. It's artful and pained, like one of half a dozen brilliant Paul Westerberg ballads. Not everyone has sat in Tim's cheap office chair, but everyone will recognize the brutal part of life that comes with taking risks.
So, then, in the two part Christmas Special, when David Brent is redeemed and Dawn rushes into Tim's arms, it feels right. The audience has suffered for so long, but the ending, too, feels true. Tim and Dawn belonged together. It's not a cheap payoff or a focus group-driven ending. It's the resolution of a brilliantly told story featuring rich characters set against the tawdry business of life in the Office.
The Office is coming to NBC. I am not enthused. Sunshine tells me that you can watch video clips from the NBC site. NBC's The Office premieres Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Central time starring Daily Show alum Steve Carell as Michael Scott (nee David Brent). So far, it sounds like a thoroughly Americanized version, in every negative Hollywood sense of the term. I'll watch it Thursday, because I must, and I'll hope for the best. But I worry that the heart of the story will be missing and that the honesty and pain will be replaced by cheap gags and rude behavior. That's me. I worry.
It's so rare to see art on television. NBC's Office is a copy of a masterpiece, likely to be antiseptic in its precision or amateurish in its rendition. Is there any reason at all to hope for something better?