Rookie seeks trophy for cubicle

Emmy's new breed: The Office

NBC’s “The Office” enters Emmy season with plenty of hurdles.

It’s an Americanized version of the beloved British original, facing skeptical comparisons from the start. The show had scarce time to establish itself in its six-episode run. Despite decent ratings — 5.4 million viewers, on average, and a 2.5/6 share in 18- to 49-year-olds — the faux documentary show’s edginess had most Peacock officials holding their breath well into the broadcast upfronts.

But now, blessed with an official spot on NBC’s fall sked, those behind the Stateside “Office” — which stars “The Daily Show’s” Steve Carell — can’t wait to get deeper into the characters.

“I feel like we’re just warming up,” says Ken Kwapis, director of the show’s pilot and second episode, “Diversity Day,” which was submitted for Emmy consideration.

He concedes that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, creators of the British version, “left big shoes to fill.” Still, Kwapis believes the American show has maintained the offbeat spirit of the original while still creating something unique.

“We’re so proud of it,” adds series exec producer Greg Daniels. “And I think as everybody involved learns more about their characters, it should get even better.”

According to Ted Frank, exec VP of current series for NBC, the challenge for the network at this point is to “put (‘The Office’) in a position where it has an opportunity to succeed.”

Of course, giving the inhouse-produced “Office” the Tuesday-night time period that previously belonged to Touchstone-produced “Scrubs” will certainly help in that regard.

Critics, who are generally effusive in their praise for “Scrubs,” hold no resentment toward “The Office” for stealing its slot.

“(‘The Office’) pulled off the impossible by not only honoring the genius of the original, but by establishing itself as separately funny,” says San Francisco Chronicle TV critic Tim Goodman.

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