6 spinoffs of 'The Office' that only true fans know about
From award-winning webisodes to international reboots, these 'Office' spinoffs will happily place you back within everyone's favorite paper company.
If the smell of fresh stationery makes you pine for repeat viewings of the beloved comedy series "The Office," you might want to clear your schedule for the spinoffs we've included below. Co-created by British comedian Ricky Gervais, the U.K. original spawned a number of successful international versions and webisodes with a focus on office culture, corporate hijinks and improvisational comedy.
"I worked in an office for eight years," Gervais told NPR. "That's where I got it all from. I was a middle manager. I went to management training seminars where the speakers talked rubbish for two days."
While Gervais' experiences certainly laid the foundation for all that would follow, "The Office's" international appeal has benefits from rich storytelling across all cultures and backgrounds. Below are just a few worth kicking back with a "World's Best Boss" mug and exploring for the first time.
The Office (Ha Misrad)
Fans eager to experience a fresh original season of "The Office" may want to catch the Israeli version called "Ha Misrad." While the first season of this "Office" version mimicked the plot lines of its British inspiration, the second season took viewers in a completely new direction over the course of 11 original episodes.
According to writer/producer Uzi Weil, the Israeli version wasn't afraid to take the cringe-inducing moments the series is known for to new levels.
“The British version is a comedy of embarrassment – you know David Brent is going to say the one thing he shouldn’t say and you cringe and say ‘it can’t happen’ and it does, and then you laugh and feel embarrassed,” Weil said in an interview. “In Israel, it works in the opposite way. Here, to be embarrassing, you have to say things out front. Because we’re very outspoken and we’re not hiding-your-feelings sort of people.”
When Gervais was asked to comment on the series spin-off, the actor applauded the idea of bringing the series to the Mediterranean. "I am thrilled and amazed that Israel is making 'The Office' with local writers, directors and actors," he said.
The Office: The Accountants
In 2006, NBC decided to experiment with a number of web-exclusive subplots to its standard syndication of "The Office." These "webisodes" were very much ahead of their time, coming a full year before even Netflix would launch their industry-changing streaming service.
The first series, called "The Accountants," focused on the three members of the accounting department: Oscar, Angela and Kevin. Their mission? To discover the whereabouts of $3,000 missing from the budget.
"The accountants have their own little world out there that they've been improvising since the very beginning," American writer Michael Schur told IGN in 2006. "We sometimes think it'd be a whole different TV show if you had positioned the cameras back there instead of on Michael, Pam, Jim and Dwight. There's a lot going on back there – there's three very funny personalities seated together, and the way that those characters have evolved it just seemed like a natural place to locate these little webisodes."
Each webisode, which lasted between 5 and 7 minutes, was released over the course of 10 weeks during the summer of 2006. In 2007, the spinoff earned the distinction of becoming the first winner of the Comedy Short Award at the inaugural Webby Awards.
The Office: The Mentor
While the American "Office" experimented with a total of nine webisode spinoffs, one of the more amusing shorts was an unlikely partnership between two characters. In what easily could have passed muster as a solid subplot for TV, the adorably goofy Erin, played to great comedic effect by American Ellie Kemper, seeks career guidance on possibly joining the accountant team. Angela, played by actress Angela Kinsey, sees an opportunity to mold a fellow Office employee in her image and takes on the challenge.
Like other classic episodes, the brilliance of these shorts lies not so much in the script, but with the improv done by the actors themselves.
"They sort of did what all of the actors on our show do in a regular episode, which is, no matter what we're shooting the actors always will do the script as it's written and then at the end of a take they'll just keep going and improvise something and if it seems funny then maybe we'll work it in," Schur said. "...We always get great stuff that we can use that way. A lot of it has made it into episodes."
David Brent: Life on the Road
In 2016, British actor Ricky Gervais brought back the beloved character of David Brent from the original U.K. "Office" for a feature-length mockumentary titled "David Brent: Life on the Road." The film follows the struggling sales rep as he attempts to forge a new career as a late-blooming rock star.
"This is what comedy is, I think, in its essence: It’s an ordinary person trying to do something they’re not equipped to do," Gervais told Nerdist. "That’s what we’re laughing at. That’s the joy and that’s the journey. It’s a journey for them and a journey for us. It can go lots of ways. We can love them for it, hate them for it, but we have to care."
Critics were favorable toward Brent's return to the small screen, with many praising Gervais for fleshing out a character previously only known for cringe-inducing one-liners.
"Gervais slips effortlessly – and convincingly – back into the role that made him famous and delivers a film that is laugh-out-loud funny at times but also manages to be poignant and, eventually, even unexpectedly uplifting too," praised U.K. critic Matthew Bond. "Brent may still have no idea where the boundaries of his beloved ‘banter’ should lie but, for the first time ever, I rather liked him, admired him even."
Proposed as a spin-off of the American "Office" with a focus on Dwight Shrute, played by comedian Rainn Wilson, "The Farm" ultimately ended up as a one-episode pilot that NBC declined to pick up. Had it lived on, the series would have focused on Dwight and the efforts of the other Shrutes to run a bed and breakfast on their beet farm.
In an interview in 2015 with the Huffington Post, Wilson said that while he thought the pilot concept was sound, he ultimately understood why producers were reluctant to throw support behind it.
“It was a struggle," he shared. "It was a struggle to cast. It was a struggle to find the right tone. I think it would have been a really successful show on cable. If we had done ‘The Farm’ on FX or IFC, it would have been really interesting because it could have been edge and weird in the right way.”
While the original pilot shopped to NBC is not publicly available, fans interested in seeing what might have been can still catch glimpses of it. Instead of scratching the entire production, "Office" producers incorporated scenes from the spinoff into episode 17 of the series' ninth and final season.
Set in Montreal, Quebec, "La Job" is a French version of "The Office" that ran for just one season from 2006-2007. The series focuses on a character aptly named David Gervais (a play on the British original David Brent played by Ricky Gervais) and his efforts to lead a division of a multinational carton and packaging company named Les Papiers Jennings.
"I saw the original show on DVD and found that it was one of the most risqué and extraordinary shows ever," producer Anne-Marie Losique said in an interview. "For me, it's a cult classic [...] we've stayed very faithful to the British series [...] [Like the original series], the show is also set in the suburbs where nothing ever happens."
Like other international versions, "La Job" relied heavily on the improvisational skills of its ensemble. Taking a page out of the American playbook, it also produced a number of short webisodes featuring poor advice from David Gervais.
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