I’ve watched a bit of the second series of The Office and I’m still impressed with it. It’s brilliantly written and performed and it is perched on a knife edge between comedy and pathos. It’s almost a bit painful to watch and it’s interesting to see how the popularity of the show may have altered how the actors and writers approached it. The second series kicks off with a funny little bit to let you know that things are back, but then it throws a few curves as David Brent’s new boss shows up and things just don’t go well for Brent with jokes going awry. What’s great is that any sympathy for Brent is undermined by his telling of a racist joke and how he tries to explain it. The Office is part of an increasingly growing subgenre of comedy that is painful at times to watch as you become invested in the characters. Curb Your Enthusiasm works in the same space as well as Ken Finkleman’s The Newsroom and his much more biting More Tears. What they seem to have in common is strong writing and casts that pull off the documentary feel which heightens drama as well as the comedy. I’ve only watched the first episode of the second series, but I looked at the amazing video diary by co-writer/directors Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais as well as the outtakes. One thing that I think always shows on the screen is how good a time people are having working on a show. The best shows are fun to work on. It looks as if working on The Office would have been great fun. I’m looking forward to more from Gervais and Merchant.