A television show that follows a group of office supplies salespeople doing their everyday jobs. On paper, it doesn't sound like the most entertaining series, especially in the world of weekly superhero blockbusters. That's a similar sentiment to what Greg Daniels felt when a tape of Ricky Gervais' original The Office BBC series came across his desk. At the time, Daniels had been writing King of the Hill alongside Mike Judge and he kept putting off watching the tape because he felt the concept sounded boring.
Eventually, Daniels got around to popping the tape in his VHS player at the time and as they say, the rest was history. "Basically, I was supposed to watch it over the Christmas holiday in...I don't know, 2005 or something like that," Daniels tells us. "And I put it off, you're right because it seemed boring. I didn't know anything at all about it. Then I popped it in. It was the VHS tape. That's how long ago it was."
Before long, Daniels was hooked, especially when a popular story arc involving the Jim and Pam versions of the UK show kicked into gear. "I just got drawn into the story, the characters," the writer says. "I watched the first season, all in one sitting. So was there a particular moment? Gosh. I mean, it probably was around the second episode, maybe. Once the Jim and Pam story kicked in ... or the, what was it called? The Tim and Dawn story. Yeah, I was hooked."
Even after Daniels agreed to adapt the series for American television, The Office wasn't a breakout hit by any means. Despite the series premiere — which aired 15 years ago today, by the way — scoring upwards of 11 million viewers, NBC pivoted the show from its Thursday date to a Tuesday night slot, something that Daniels "furiously" argued against.
"I suddenly had this flash of anger about the fact that we were on a different night," he adds. "I remember that from back then. But yeah, no, it was very touch and go. All my favorite shows that were on NBC, like Cheers and Seinfeld, had started off very weak in the ratings, and it built."
Daniels concludes, "I was furiously making this argument, to anyone who would listen at NBC, that that's what was going to happen, that the show was a character comedy and they take a while to build. I would point to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as another great show that started off very slow. The only problem was that every TV producer, of a show that didn't get good ratings, was making the same argument."
The writer was right. NBC went on to order an additional eight seasons past that initial outing and now, it's one of the most-watched series on streaming some seven years after the series finale aired.
All nine seasons of The Office are now streaming on Netflix.