Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Canterbury tales

My favorite movie from last weekend was the fantastic Simon Pegg action-comedy Hot Fuzz. Aside from being two hours of pure awesomeness, the movie was highlighted by random cameos from famous people, including Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy, Peter Jackson, and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant. My favorite cameo, however, was the one by Martin Freeman, whom you probably remember as the guy in the softporn shoot in Love, Actually, but who became famous for his role as Tim Canterbury in the original UK production of The Office.

Tim and Dawn

I got hooked on the original series a few years ago, mostly because I was working in a job that I didn't like very much (I ended up staying less than a year) for a boss that reminded me of the buffoon from the show. It was laugh-out loud hilarious, and became one of my favorite TV shows ever, and until now I harbor deep affection for the people who were behind it. I also liked the fact that no one I knew got into it, and that not everyone got it, and that it was like this obscure little secret that I had all to myself. Of course, millions of people around the world loved the series, too, but they didn't really count. Like me, however, those millions of people who ended up liking the show count it as among their favorite things ever.

(It took me a while to warm up to the American version, but it got me in the end. Like the original, it's become quite obscure among my circle, with its handful of fans that I know being real fanatics about it. It's a testament to the show's lack of fans in the country that it's notoriously hard to find DVDs of the show anywhere. A few months ago, I spent three hours in Quiapo looking for copies of the third season, and I ended up having to pay close to a thousand bucks for a boxed set that only one stall in the whole place carried.)

The story of Tim and receptionist Dawn Tinsley (played by Lucy Davis, who starred in Shaun) is one of the greatest TV romances, and even John Krasinski, who plays Tim's American counterpart Jim Halpert in the US version, thinks so. What made the Tim-Dawn dalliance much sadder (and ultimately, more fulfilling) was the fact that, unlike Jim, Tim had nothing going for him. He was okay-looking, but he's not the hunk that Halpert is. He's stuck in a dead-end job and he'd just turned thirty, and in the most depressing manner, ended up celebrating it with work mates he didn't even like. He'd dropped out of college and is still living with his parents, and while he'd always talked about going back to school to get a psychology degree, everyone knows he'd never get around to doing it. The only ray of sunshine in his life was the receptionist, but she'll be leaving for Florida with her fiance Lee.

As much as I like the American version, there was nothing there (or in any other show) that was quite as quietly heart-rending as this scene from the final episode of the regular series of the British version. Tim just learned that Dawn was leaving, and he makes his last stand:

That was how it ended! And Ricky Gervais would have left it that way, too! What a cruel, cruel bastard!

Fortunately, they ended up producing a couple of Christmas specials (after fans threatened to burn down the BBC, I think). It was set three years later, Dawn had been living unhappily in Florida with Lee, and Tim was still toiling away at his office. The office was holding a Christmas party, and the documentary crew offered to pay for Dawn and Lee to go back and attend. It took them three years, but Tim and Dawn finally got their happy ending.

(Yazoo's hit song, Only You, was playing when they got together.)

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A few months ago, I spent three hours in Quiapo looking for copies of the third season, and I ended up having to pay close to a thousand bucks for a boxed set that only one stall in the whole place carried

tsk, tsk, you should have gone to Metrowalk!! So you won't feel bad, I'm not gonna tell you how much I paid for my seasons 3 and (a part of)4 cds. :)


You're missing the point. It really wasn't about the cash :) The collection I got was really really nice, with all seasons and a great box packaging, and it was worth the price for any office nut.

Anyway, this happened last August, before the premiere of the fourth season, and copies of The Office DVD were nowhere to be found, not even in Metrowalk (believe me, I checked). I did go back to Quiapo a couple of months later, and I ended up getting a copy of the third season for 45 bucks.


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