Television: The (Awkward) Pause That Refreshes

The American version of The Office doesn't reproduce the British humor of the original, but that's a good thing

Ever since NBC announced plans to remake The Office--the critically adored BBC sitcom about white collar dronesmanship--fans of the original prepared to be disappointed. Americans, they surmised, could not reproduce its discomfiting British humor.

They were right. And thank God. The Office (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. E.T.; preview March 24, 9:30 p.m. E.T.) keeps elements of the original, like the mockumentary format and the long, awkward pauses. But it finds a discomfiting American humor all its own.

The first dead-on choice was hiring executive producer Greg Daniels, whose animated King of the Hill is TV's most acute satire of suburban mores. The...

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