I started watching Veronica Mars in hopes of finding a one-hour show I could stomach, and now I'm into it. I had to sacrifice Scrubs to watch it, but now they're putting the American version of The Office on in that time slot too.
Sarah, I feel your pain. Honestly, why couldn't they keep that show on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday? At least I don't watch House.
The American version of The Office, incidentally, hasn't proven itself yet, but I want to give it a chance for a while longer. I've seen both seasons of the British version, though not the Christmas special. The original is brilliant, painfully awkward with an undercurrent of quiet desperation. Uncomfortable and yet full of heart, it's worth the praise people throw at it, though it does annoy me when people use it to claim that British humor is universally "better."
Lots of people online are up in arms over the remake, claiming it's a travesty. I think it has the potential to be a decent show if it can distinguish itself from the original. I saw a clip of the American one before I ever saw the British one and I thought it was funny in that awkward, uncomfortable way. That said, the American one does lack nuance in comparison to the original. It retains the long pauses but the character reactions are more on the nose. That, and you can't stop comparing the cast to the original's. No matter how good they are, they'll never match the original cast, not necessarily because the originals are more talented (though they arguably are) but because people will always cling to the image of the first person they saw in a specific role. I saw a stage production of The Sound of Music before the Julie Andrews movie and I had trouble seeing Maria as a blonde after that.
It wasn't until Mystery Science Theater 3000 moved to the Sci-Fi channel and retooled its frame story, changing a bunch of characters, that I found myself as comfortable with Mike Nelson as I had with Joel. It seemed like the show was Mike's at that point, instead of being Joel's show with a different face.
My point is that the American Office can be funny with all the talent behind it, but first it has to find its own voice, as its own show. It helps that episodes from here on will have original scripts instead of remaking the British one, but it will still take a while for it to get out from under the shadow of Ricky Gervais. You can watch a surprisingly long clip from the second episode here.
Of course, now I can't, thanks to the vagaries of scheduling. I've invested a lot of time getting caught up with Veronica Mars and I don't want to quit now. Setting a VCR in addition to TiVo makes me sad.