A bit of info on Steve Carrel’s departure from The Office

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

The big news this year is that Steve Carrel is set to leave The Office. He is stepping away from the role that has since served to define him in recent years, a role that has no doubt turned him into a household name. However, the bigger news still is that he is due to be replaced with the show set to carry on without him. A bold move, a show as big as the office to carry on without it’s biggest star. Hopefully, with The Office being such a strong show, the writers will be able to not only still write a great show but also surprise everyone with how they deal with it.

Some interesting details came out recently on subject over here;



US Television. Where to start.

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

There is a lot of TV in America. The TV schedules are huge. There is so much to get stuck into, but unfortunately if you live in the UK (like I do) American TV is American, in America, which is really faraway and not massively accessible.

So, where do you start? Well, here is a beginners guide to current American TV comedy. (this isn’t a history lesson and stays well away from late night TV comedy chat shows, as well as SNL as that is not beginners stuff)

This is how to get an obsession with American TV started.

There are the obvious less legal routes, but I’m not going to talk about that. Rather, amazon.co.uk is going to be your new favourite site. Not only is it the best place to find stuff, I’ve also found it’s the cheapest. The first thing your going to need is a multi region DVD player, but don’t worry – they are incredibly cheap. Search Amazon for DVD players, look at the cheapest ones, check the comments. More often than not the instructions on how to hack the DVD player are mentioned in the comments. Eventually, with a few clicks you will have no trouble finding a nice, cheap, hackable DVD player. Buy it, hack it and start watching.

So, what are you going to watch first? Well, luckily some of the best shows can also be picked up nice and cheap. Some are even available in the UK, so it’s best to take advantage of that first – and start with the big two right now, The Office and 30 Rock.

Not only are both shows big favourites of mine, they are favourites of lots of people. Both have acquired countless awards, garner huge viewerships and create national celebrities. Both also, despite being ‘heard of’ in the UK, and have been shown are hidden in the most obscure places in the TV schedule. They’ve both only manage to gain cult status in the UK, and despite that being a huge injustice, the following in the US is more than enough to carry both shows in to many seasons.

The Office. A show inspired by the now legendary British show, the American version is now well into it’s 7th season. With each season being around 20 episodes, it’s produced a lot more than the UK version. The shows have some very big similarities, both also have massive differences. In my opinion it’s the strongest American comedy at the moment, a lot of people say the last few season are weaker than previous seasons but a weak season of The Office is still a great season of The Office. Also, in my opinion (and I’ll talk about this more one day) it’s not only OK to be British and like the US version, the US version is also better. Controversial, I know. Most people won’t, and don’t agree. The key is understanding that the UK version, despite being brilliant, isn’t the greatest thing ever made.

Start with the season 1-3 box set. You can get it really cheap and you won’t regret it. It is a perfect, seamless mix of cuteness, story telling and its hilarious. The writers cram in non-stop gags. They come at all angles, but they manage to keep the momentum of the story moving at a perfect pace. That, and there are moments that will make you cry. Seriously. As this is beginners guide, I wont go into to much detail about the show, just watch it and let it take over your life.

Next, 30 Rock. Produced by the same studio as The Office and usually shown one after another, it’s makes you laugh just as hard but in different ways.
Now, 30 Rock, to a UK view is an odd concept. It’s a comedy set behind the scenes of a fictional TV comedy sketch show. In the US SNL (Saturday Night Live) is not only huge, but an institution. It’s been going for years and has launched countless careers. It’s something the UK has tried, but never works. Sketch shows work in the UK, with the Fast Show, Mitchell and Webb etc, but shows like SNL don’t work. SNL is not only very old fashioned American joke telling, it’s also current so it makes plenty of jokes that reference what’s been going on over the past few weeks. We get current event comedy shows in the UK, but in the form of panel quiz shows and a few comedy news shows but nothing with big production. SNL also has very much a ‘show’ vibe and really incorporates the feeling of a live sketch show. Anyway, the US has SNL and the UK doesn’t and that why 30 Rock hasn’t really made it here, despite it being brilliant.

The jokes in 30 Rock come from many different places, creating a great mix of humour. They have a great way of making non-stop pop culture references, keeping with the vibe of SNL but also serving as a nod to those paying attention. The jokes come from three main places – Jack and his corporate enforce on a comedy show, Tracy’s really odd life and Liz terrible ability to function ‘normally’. These are not the only places the writers source joke, far from it but these places, for me, get the biggest laughs. Plus the have a great way of never letting an idea behind a joke get boring, they can effortlessly keep they style of a gag going nonstop and never let it get dull.

The story is very much secondary to the jokes in 30 Rock. Unlike The Office which marries jokes and story perfectly, 30 Rock is mainly about gags with a story in the background that helps carry the jokes and move the show into new and unexpected places.

So, start there. There are tons and tons more, but these two very much encompass the vibe of US comedy right now and showcase it perfectly. It’s enough to get started and get a really good feel as to how Americans have been making themselves laugh over the last few years.

Next time, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Trailer Park Boys.

The ‘about this blog bit’

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

So, a few weeks ago I decided to shut down my Facebook (which I was using too much, and achieving very little), and the plan was to blog about a Facebook free life.

Well, as it turns out that is a very boring subject. I got one blog post from it, then that was it. It was a very dull post. Its currently helping clog up a small corner of the internet. No one will ever read it.

It’s very uninteresting talking about not using Facebook, it’s certainly not blog worthy.

The idea would be that I would have loads of extra free time and I would use it better and hopefully achieve more, but it took me less than a week to realise that I wasn’t likely to do that. However, I still had the drive to start blogging (I’ve been a typical blogger for years – have and idea, start a blog and let it die after the first couple of post) more consistently and try to get something worth visiting. I’ve tried being funny (it’s harder than it seems), I’ve tried being clever (I’m not that clever) and I’ve tried using as more of a journal (I’m quite boring). So, after my new grand idea fell flat, I tried thinking of what I could blog about.

Well, I’m TV obsessed. I watch EVERYTHING, and I’m a big geek about it. I’m also very snobby about it. More specifically I’m obsessed with comedy TV, even more specifically I’m obsessed with American comedy TV. I have broad tastes, I will give everything a chance but it’s cult, off beat comedy that I really get into.

Being from the UK, I’m also naturally in to British comedy too. However, having grown up with British comedy I’ve seen most of it. There is very little yet to discover, and unlike American comedy, we don’t seem to be making very much off it. Don’t get me wrong, British comedy is brilliant and I’m always very proud of what Britain produce, but GREAT comedy seems increasingly few and far between. A gem comes along every now and then, and there are some great things on the horizon but there is more and more mediocre stuff being made. There really are very few off beat comedies around, and not a huge amount to look forward to.

In the US however, chances seem to be being taken. Entire networks are filling schedules with off beat, not for everyone comedies. Countless series are currently being shown and tones of renewals are on the horizon. The Office, Always Sunny, 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm just don’t work for the mass market in the UK. They are odd, offensive and too full off pop culture reference to find primetime slots on the UK. In the US however, these are primetime shows and they are popular. The UK and US seem to be heading in very different directions (one day I’ll write about why this is) and it’s not disappointing. All you need is a multi region DVD player and an amazon.co.uk account and your set. You also need to be willing to pay over the odds for some, newer items if you want to stay current. Over the odds and ridiculous post office fees (£13 to basically put something on a shelf? Wow)


Blog about funny stuff.