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Sweeps Day 1: Derek Flint Has Seen The NBC Version of THE OFFICE!!

I am – Hercules!!

Mike Judge, who wrote and directed “Office Space,” would have been a great choice to Americanize “The Office.” Writer-director Christopher Guest (“Waiting For Guffman,” “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind”) would have been another fantastic choice. But the man they should have built this pilot around is writer-director Richard Linklater (“Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunrise,” “Waking Life,” “School of Rock”), who just did a perfectly spectacular job with the HBO workplace pilot “$5.15/Hr.”

Instead, NBC got Judge’s “King of the Hill” partner, Greg Daniels, to pen the pilot and Ken Kwapis (“He Said She Said,” “Dunston Checks In,” “Beautician and the Beast”) to direct.

Our man “Derek Flint,” who’s been appraising major motion pictures for Ain’t It Cool since the Clinton administration, all but screams "You're fired!":

Hey Herc:

I haven't written anything in TV for a long time because I never see shows in advance like you do, except maybe for this time.

I mostly go to movie screenings, but the other night I was part of a recruited audience for the American version of the BBC masterpiece "The Office" that was held at a testing facility on Lankershim here in Hollywood.

People wonder if NBC's pilot of "The Office" is as bad as last year's bomb "Coupling."

The answer is no ... it's worse. The reason being that the original "Office" is a much better show. There's no way to improve upon it and to Americanize it doesn't do it justice.

Greg Daniels, who co-created the cartoon "King of the Hill," is behind this American version and they should have gotten his partner, Mike Judge, to do this as he clearly had more of a handle on the required low-key style as he showed in "Office Space."

Daniels makes the same mistake that "Coupling" did by basically copying the original so much that you might as well just ignore this and buy the DVDs from BBC Video.

The acting lacks the masterful underplaying of Ricky Gervais and company. A guy from "The Daily Show" tries to fill Ricky's shoes and can't. The American dude comes off as bland, uninteresting and really irritating.

I don't think all that many of the test group I sat with was as familiar with the original British series as I was. Still, it was painfully clear that nobody was liking this much. The lady next to me said she found it "depressing."

Another said it was like a worse version of "Andy Richter Controls The Universe" without the eye candy and dream sequences.

I say leave well enough alone. Since most critics, as well as smart viewers, know the original "Office," the reviews will be scathing.

I hope the American version of "The Office" stays closed.

Derek Flint

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