Wednesday, 30 January 2013

MY HIT LIST: THE OFFICE (Dunder Mifflin inc)

So I took it upon myself to watch seasons1-5 of The Office. I began on January 1st and finished on 25th January: that's a total of 100 episodes in 25 days. Phew! I am taking a pause before commencing seasons 6, 7 and 8.

I approached the Office, or as it's call here in the UK, The US Office with the expectation that it would be just another copy of a successful comedy format. The quality of series 1, 2 and the Christmas special of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's The Office set an extremely high bar so I started viewing with trepidation. I needn't have worried: its wonderful. 

The trials and tribulations of the staff of the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin paper company make for some of the best entertainment of recent years. The standard of writing and performances are consistently high and guest directors such as Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams take the helm for the odd episode seamlessly confirming the quality of the regular directors.

The cast (the family if you like) consist of tremendous characters each given time and room to develop.

Michael Scott joins the pantheon of classic comedy characters whose comedic attributes and clod hopping sensibilities are underpinned by genuine pathos. The relationships are the heart of the office, in particular that of Pam and Jim whose ongoing  "will they won't they" storyline becomes something meaningful.

Dwight Shrute is the assistant to the regional manager whose loyalty to Scott is just one aspect of a obnoxious yet fascinating character. The other workers of the office develop over the seasons and we glimpse into their lives, but never too deeply.

The Office grows and develops over the seasons and becomes something more with each episode. Extremely funny but also genuinely moving at times. I personally, would put The Office right up there with the best of US Situation comedies like Frasier, Cheers, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It really is that good.

I look forward to seeing how things unfold for the employees of Dunder Mifflin with great enthusiasm and, this time, with no trepidation at all.

Michael Scott's best quotes

15.) “I am Michael, and I am part English, Irish, German, and Scottish, sort of a virtual United Nations.”

14.) “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.’” 

13.) “Nobody likes beets, Dwight. You should grow something everybody does like. You should grow candy.”

12.) “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information.”

11.) “I’m friends with everybody in this office. We’re all best friends. I love everybody here. But sometimes your best friends start coming into work late and start having dentist appointments that aren’t dentist appointments, and that is when it’s nice to let them know that you could beat them up.” 

10.) “Between the sheets, we were like Jordan and Pippen.”

9.) “Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for corporate, so he’s really not a part of our family. Also, he’s divorced, so he’s really not a part of his family.” 

8.) “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

7.) “You don’t call retarded people retards. It’s bad taste. You call your friends retards … when they’re acting retarded.”

6.) “You may look around and see two groups here: white collar, blue collar. But I don’t see it that way, and you know why not? Because I am collar-blind.”

5.) “I love babies. I think they are beautiful in all sorts of different ways. I try to pick up and hold a baby every day, if possible, because it nourishes me. It feeds my soul. Babies are drawn to me. And I think it’s because they see me as one of them. But … cooler and with my life put together a little bit more. If a baby were president, there would be no taxes. There would be no war.” 

4.) “My proudest moment here wasn’t when I increased profits by 17 percent, or cut expenditures without losing a single member of staff. No, no, no. It was a young Guatemalan guy, first job in the country, barely spoke a word of English, but he came to me and said, ‘Mr. Scott, will you be the godfather to my child?’ Didn’t work out in the end. We had to let him go. He sucked.”

3.) “You’ll notice, I didn’t have anybody being Arab. I thought that would be too explosive, uh, no pun intended. But I just thought, “too soon” for Arabs, maybe next year. You know, the ball’s in their court.”

2.) “Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party is so lame!”

1.) “If I had a gun, with two bullets, and I was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden and Toby, I would shoot Toby twice.”


Michael-regional manager, motivator, inspirer, leader, comedian, lover, friend (his words) 

Jim-office good guy and king of pranks Pam-secretary who dreams of a better life/life partner
Angela- tightly wound cat and Christ lover with a secret, Dwight-Beet farmer and lateral thinker

Darryl-laid back wise man from the warehouse

Andrew-Buttoned down in every sense of the word

Ryan- from optimist to eternally deluded cynic

Stanley-crossword expert waiting for retirement
Roy-warehouse operative, fiancé

Charles-irritable trouble shooter

Creed-Office shirker supreme

Holly-self confessed dweeb and Michael's soul mate

David- Head honcho who rules with an iron palm 

Meredith-Alcoholic who's up for a liaison

Kelly-air headed Hindu

Jan-powerful career woman meets mad woman

Toby-HR man and Michael Scott nemesis

Karen-The one that Jim  gave away

Oscar -gay and prone to exasperation

Phylis-malleable mother figure

Kevin-Sloth like number cruncher

Further Viewing:
Actors from The Office have starred in movies also,most being standard fare however here's a selection of great smaller movies featuring members of the cast

Steve Carell-Dan In Real Life
Rainn Wilson-Super
John Krasinski-Away We Go
Amy Ryan- Win Win
Jenna Fischer-A Little Help

Monday, 28 January 2013


10 of the best Bizarre, esoteric and downright weird mainstream comic books.
With the rise of independent comic books in the eighties opportunities for writers and artists to explore new challenging avenues became frequent but there was a time that, within the constraints of the four colour format and commercial considerations of the traditional Superhero
comic book, some creators pushed the envelope: and got away with it. Some did it under the radar, some in obvious ways and some utilising downright silly methods to make a point. Artistically and within the script, ambition and surrealism collided and led the way for experimentation in that mainstream thereby influencing the independent creator.

Krazy Kat,Little Nemo and others had been given free reign previously but that was within the more cerebral newspaper world. These stories took place in the highly commercial world of the Marvel/DC cape & cowl universe.
1.Doctor Strange-Steve Ditko,Stan Lee
2.Warlock / Captain Marvel-Jim Starlin
3. Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.LD./ Captain America-Jim Steranko
4. The Creeper-Steve Ditko
5.American Flagg-Howard Chaykin
6. Deadman-Neal Adams
7. Swamp Thing-Alan Moore
8.Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane-Kurt Shaffenberger
9.Howard the Duck-Steve Gerber
10.Mister Miracle-Jack Kirby




Sunday, 27 January 2013


Taken from Led Zeppelin IV 1971 this track from Led Zeppelin showcases everything that was great about the band kicking off with John Bonham's 
incredible and indelible drumming. 
It highlights their Rhythm & Blues influences perfectly.

When The Levee Breaks- Page/Plant/Jones/ Bonham/Memphis Minnie 


Axl Rose. Cringe inducing anagrammatic name. Nasal caterwauling. Ridiculous own brand dancing. Pompous bloated bad boy. Sub Mick Jagger posturing. Pseudo Robert Plant aesthetic. But most of all a screeching voice 
that can strip teeth enamel at 100 yards.

Friday, 25 January 2013


I think its fair to say that Django Unchained represents Quentin Tarantino’s entry into the Western cannon or rather the Spaghetti Western cannon. It’s a Western that takes the slave trade as its setting and the journey of Django as its story.

Tarantino is the master of imprinting a genre with his own DNA and Django Unchained is undoubtedly a Tarantino movie in its style, dialogue and invention.

I chose to see it in 35mm at The Everyman Screen on the Green and if it was Tarantino’s intention to create a movie that looks like a classic widescreen Western he achieves his ambition perfectly. As per usual there is a great soundtrack and the production values are spot on. If you get the chance to see it in it's natural 35mm glory I urge you to do so.

Christoph Malz is a magnetic cinematic presence as bounty hunter Doctor King Schulz and he becomes Obi Wan Kenobi to Jamie Foxx’s Skywalker: although in many ways he has more in common with Hans Solo.

Leonardo di Caprio plays a villain who is bereft of any redeeming features and Samuel L Jackson not only looks like the generic Uncle Tom figure but also plays the compliant house slave to Di Caprio’s Calvin Candie as a cross between the unseen Maid from Tom & Jerry and a judgemental father figure.

Django Unchained does feature stylised violence, which, predictably enough, has promoted mild hysteria, yet it is no more than that of Peckinpah or DePalma.

There is an intrinsic humour in many scenes, which is a counterbalance to the genuinely upsetting depiction of the treatment of slaves. Django’s retribution on those guilty of benefitting from slavery is swift and brutal, in fact both Django and King Schulz have a default position for dealing with bad people: kill them.

It continues the traditions of the revenge Western and Korean movies such as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mister Vengeance. Django’s vengeance is not so much against individuals that have wronged him but rather revenge on the whole rotten and barbaric institution of slavery.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) is a film that carries a great deal of influence which can be seen in films such as The Exorcist, The Omen, the Shinning and The Sentinel. On release Rosemary's Baby, which is essentially a film about Satanism, was a big commercial hit and was met with a good critical response.

It contains many elements that Hitchcock would be proud of and it delves into the psyche in similar ways to his movies Repulsion and The Tenant. The excellent Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award for best supporting actress: no mean feat when you look at the quality of the cast.

Mia Farrow is great as the disintegrating Rosemary and John Cassavettes plays the two faced husband with his usual excellence. The other characters are bizarre and creep up on Rosemary like poison Ivy.

Of course the terrible tragedy that befell Polanski the year after the film's release, in which his wife Sharon Tate and his unborn child were brutally murdered, is often referenced as some sort of curse connected with the movie. This talk of movie curses  carried on with such films as The Omen, Poltergeist and the Exorcist.

Rosemary's Baby is not just a great horror movie, its a great movie about conformity and the dark underbelly of polite society, it's a film that resonates now in such movies as Kill List and the general trend toward the Gothic. Polanski more or less unleashed a genre and a cinematic trend upon a largely unsuspecting movie going public.