Review: ‘Untold Story’ dives backstage at ‘The Office’
“The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History,” Dutton, by Andy Greene
The show started as practically a shot-for-shot remake of the British version of “The Office” that aired in the United Kingdom and starred Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The folks at NBC were not impressed, but they gave the series a shot anyway with an initial six-episode order.
Steve Carell starred as the clueless boss at the paper company Dunder Mifflin. The ratings were not spectacular, but a couple of folks high up at the network saw some potential and gave it another short episode order. It was at this point between the seasons that the creators turned a British clone into its own entity, creating a ground-breaking television show in the process.
Andy Greene’s love letter to the show is a dream guide and oral history into the full creative process from the perspective of the writers, producers, cast and even some of the network executives. Producing a network television comedy without three cameras, a laugh track or not filming live in front of a studio audience was virtually unheard of at the time. Reality TV shows like “Survivor” were starting to grow in popularity around this time, and since the creators were going for that vibe, they decided to use the camera experts from those shows directly.
Carell proved to be the perfect leader as Michael Scott, and as the show expanded its viewership, fan interest in the characters and their lives grew as well.
With the streaming service Netflix airing all nine seasons for new generations to binge watch, “The Office” has only increased in popularity over time.
Relying on almost 90 interviews, Greene lays out both the successes and struggles as he covers the history of the series. He delivers insight from the major players involved. He provides behind-the-scenes details of classic episodes. He even talks about a possible reboot.
The result is a perfect book for fans along with students studying how television series are made.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Steve Carell’s last name.