Ricky Gervais says he's just about done with the episode of "The Office" he and his partner-in-comedy Stephen Merchant are writing for NBC.
That's a pretty quick turnaround, considering it was only about two weeks ago that the team announced they'd take a crack at the American version of the show they created.
"It was remarkably fast," says Gervais, who's also written an episode of "The Simpsons" that will air in March. "I suppose that's because we'd been away from those characters for two or three years. It's one of our favorite shows, the American 'Office.' I think it might be our favorite sitcom of the moment."
You might expect Gervais to say that, given that he and Merchant created the British "Office" and serve as executive producers of NBC's show. But he insists that he's been hands-off since helping get the show off the ground: "It's all their work. I must stress that."
Gervais even allows that the unrequited-love story between Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) "hits the ground running better than we did with Tim [Martin Freeman] and Dawn [Lucy Davis]." He also has high praise for Steve Carell, who plays clueless boss Michael Scott, the American counterpart to Gervais' David Brent.
"I watch his performance, and I think he's working so hard, he works on so many levels," Gervais says of Carell, who last month joined him as a Golden Globe winner.
Gervais and Merchant's episode of "The Office" will air sometime in the 2006-07 season (the show has already earned a pickup for next year). Gervais says it's "remarkable" that the NBC show will hit 50 episodes next year (the British version had but 12, plus a special that concluded the series). What didn't surprise him, though, was that the American version turned out as well as it has.
"I think American TV is the best in the world. I knew 'The Office' wouldn't be ruined by these people," he says. "But I know American shows would be ruined by English people. We're not as good as you. ... American TV for me, as Randy Jackson would say, is da bomb."