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Like a woman in a bar who licks her lips, orders you a drink, and then kicks you in the junk, the NYT is sending some mixed signals about tonight's premiere of the American version of The Office on NBC:

And though it grates to admit it, the American version of "The Office" is very funny - for viewers who never saw the original series on BBC America.

Luckily for NBC, which bought the rights to the British comedy, only a relatively small number of viewers in the United States have seen the BBC version. Those happy few should try to erase every trace from their brains - Eternal Sunshine of the Digital Cable Mind - because the NBC series, though it pales in comparison, is still funnier than any other new network sitcom.

OK, so as we understand it, the show's better than, say, Jake in Progress or the jubilantly maligned Life on a Stick. High praise indeed! And as huge fans of the amazing British version, we're only going to be able to enjoy it if we suffer some blunt force trauma to the parietal lobe? But we just finished smashing our temples with a hammer to forget about the first season of Joey! NBC really isn't playing fair.