I had a sudden urge to download Handbags and Gladrags, an oft-covered English tune used as the theme music for the British version of The Office. A Ricky Gervais fan came up with a staggeringly comprehensive history of the tune and offers an explanation of why it works so well as the theme:
One reading of the lyric is as a commentary on the futility of fashion and the irrelevance of outward appearances. In this sense it is well chosen as the theme for The Office, as David Brent is a man concerned, above all, with image, status and perception.
I can’t possibly improve on that.
I searched for video of The Office credits, but what I found instead was equally interesting. At least, it’s interesting if you, like me, did a senior recital on percussion and spent significant time behind a marimba. Yes, it’s the American theme song … on marimba.
Too short, but pretty sweet.
I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of the UK version, but I know the consensus is that it played up the pathos a bit more than the American version. I think that opinion stems from two brilliant scenes with Tim and Dawn, the predecessors of Jim and Pam.
The first, which is one of the most perfectly directed and acted moments of TV I’ve ever seen, was near the end of the series finale. But since the series didn’t really end there, we get another one near the end of the Christmas special. (The background you need to know — Dawn, like Pam, was always interested in doing something with her artistic skill, which her warehouse-worker fiancee didn’t appreciate. And in case you can’t hear Gareth — the blonde guy — in the pivotal scene here, he says, “She’s got a fiancee.” Dawn’s response says it all.)
And yes, you do have to love Yazoo’s cheesy synth-pop love song Only You bubbling through that final scene.