Judge Patrick Naugle isn't fooling anyone. They all know he's rock and roll through and through.
Our reviews of The Office: Season Two (published September 18th, 2006), The Office: Season Three (published September 4th, 2007), The Office: Season Four (published September 2nd, 2008), The Office: Season Five (published September 8th, 2009), The Office: Season Five (Blu-ray) (published September 8th, 2009), The Office: Season Six (published September 7th, 2010), The Office: Season Six (Blu-ray) (published September 13th, 2010), The Office: Season Seven (published September 22nd, 2011), The Office: Season Seven (Blu-ray) (published September 14th, 2011), The Office: Season Eight (Blu-ray) (published September 2nd, 2012), and The Office: Season One (published October 5th, 2005) are also available.
Comedy never felt so…awkward.
Only a handful of shows can claim to have changed the landscape of television forever. The Office is one of those shows. Created by British comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and set inside a fictional paper company, the short-lived series took a very simple, sitcom-friendly idea—let's watch people at work!—and made it into something truly original. Originally released on DVD in two seasons and with a separate two-hour holiday special, all of The Office's episodes are featured in one package with a few new extra features.
Let the workday begin.
Facts of the Case
The Office follows the misadventures of paper merchant Werhnam-Hogg and its employees, many of whom border on being unfit for societal interaction. The four main characters include lowly but cute secretary Dawn (Lucy Davis, Shaun of the Dead), befuddled salesman Tim (Martin Freeman, the upcoming Hobbit series), assistant regional manager Gareth (Mackenzie Crook, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), and their attention hogging and wholly inappropriate boss David Brent (Ricky Gervais, The Invention of Lying). Through petty squabbles, weird love triangles, and terrifying redundancies, the workers from Slough, England find that day-to-day life in a cubicle can force you to become just a like a family…even if you hate every single one of your "relatives."
The episodes included on this set:
It's been an interesting ride for Ricky Gervais. In 2001, he came up with The Office, a groundbreaking BBC series that gained a cult following and blew up like a wildfire in the States, once the American version started its run as a midseason replacement in 2005. Gervias followed his success with another series (Extras), a podcast (The Ricky Gervais Show), cameos in movies and even as a writer on The Simpsons. Gervais is now one of the most polarizing forces in comedy, even amongst his own colleagues; having been met with much lauding and criticism for biting the hand that feeds him by lobbing vicious jokes at the entertainment community during his stint as host of the Golden Globes.
My question to Hollywood is this: What were you expecting?
If the industry had spent a few moments really studying The Office, they would have seen this is exactly how Gervais operates. His comedy, while often silly, is built upon a foundation of awkward and inappropriate behavior. It's one of the reasons why people love the show (and it's US counterpart) or hate it; the comedy is never comfortable TV consumption.
I was introduced to The Office by a friend who pushed it on me like crack cocaine ("funniest thing you'll ever see," he gushed). At first I resisted. "This is pretty dumb," were my thoughts through the first few episodes. Then I gradually and happily came to love all of the characters. Here were people like you and me, with funnier accents, trying to squeeze out a day-to-day living with people who were driving them up a wall. Who couldn't relate to that? Slowly, I realized what Gervais was doing wasn't traditional humor. The Office is a uniquely outside-the-box experience. It may not seem like it now, as shows like Modern Family have slightly dulled the original concept, but what the show did was a first-of-its kind.
Ricky Gervais deserves mad props (yes, I used the term 'mad props,' now leave me alone) for making David Brent a wholly unlikable yet lovable goon. Brent is the type of person you would loathe to stand next to at a party; he's like a train barreling down the tracks towards fifteen barrels of gunpowder. Anything he does isn't going to end well. From weird dances to bad first dates, David Brent is a man who has yet to learn (much less master) the intricacies of human social interaction. While no one wants to be David Brent, everyone loves to watch him—hey, it's the same reason we all slow down at a car wreck. Equally funny in a slimier way is Mackenzie Crook as Gareth Keenan, Brent's right hand man. In fact, more so than David Brent, Gareth has no idea how to interact with the public at large. David's problem is that he desperately wants the affections and acceptance of others; Gareth just wants to have sex and show off his intelligence (which is dubious at best). Crook makes Gareth a true TV oddity with his lanky frame, odd bowl haircut, and sunken eyes. It's no wonder he made such a great skeleton next to Captain Jack Sparrow.
Counterbalancing these two characters are Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis as Tim and Dawn, office crushes whose stars never seem to align. Both are very warm characters, people who—unlike Gareth and David—you'd like to spend time with at a holiday gathering. Freeman is especially good. As much as I like John Krasinski's Jim Halpert on the American Office, I admit an undying love for Freeman's Tim and his wildly expressive facial expressions. It's probably the biggest reason why I absolutely love this show. Unlike the NBC series, BBC's The Office doesn't feature a lot of secondary characters. Or, better said, the secondary characters don't get as much face time when compared to Steve Carell's band of merry outsiders. The heavyset Keith (Ewen MacIntosh) achieves the most secondary focus, often nonchalantly discussing how he can sexually please a woman and reminding Dawn that Tim likes her.
The show's humor comes out of bad behavior and poor decisions. That's what makes it so endearing; from Tim slipping a female vibrator into an office meeting, to David attempting to one-up a colleague's '70s charity dance, everyone makes everyone else's life harder. The human condition is funny. For some odd reason, we seem to enjoy watching people suffer for the sake of comedy…and there is a lot of suffering in The Office. Each moment is filled with wonderfully inventive and humorous outcomes.
The Office: Special Edition is presented in 1.85:1 standard definition, anamorphic widescreen and looks very good. The show was never meant to have a crystal clear transfer. The camera often pokes into places it shouldn't, the image being fuzzy or out of focus (intentionally) and the handheld work shaky. That's what gives the show its faux documentary feel. Because of this, the picture sometimes suffers, but that's all part of the fun. The audio presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English. Much like the transfer, the sound merely serves the fake documentary style rather than shows off your audio system. Directional effects are few and far between, with the main title theme getting the biggest boost. This is a front heavy track without much 'oomph' to it. Also included on each episode are English subtitles.
All of the previously released bonus features are included here, including the "How I Made the Office" documentary, some deleted scenes, a video diary, outtakes, commentary by the directors, a Golden Globes featurette, the fantastic David Brent music video for "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "The Office: Closed for Business" documentary, and a making-of featurette for the song "Freelove Freeway." The thing that should get fans excited are the new features for this 10th Anniversary edition. The best is a retrospective titled "Comedy Connections: The Office" that sports interviews with Gervais, co-creator Stephen Merchant (who was also a guest star on the show from time-to-time), and other members of the cast, discussing the origins of the show, what made it a hit, and other general topics. While a lot of it is standard stuff, it's still a lot of fun to hear Gervais and company after the fact. The other new feature is the original twenty minute pilot for the show—not quite as good as the original, but still fun to see.
I'd gladly suffer a lifetime of Ricky Gervais, if it meant The Office would continue on ad infinitum. Alas, we fans only get twelve episodes and a holiday special. Not enough, but it'll have to do. Highly recommended.
If you already own the previous editions of The Office it's hard to
recommend the upgrade…unless you're a diehard fan. If you haven't
had a chance to meet the Wernham-Hogg misfits yet, this 4-disc set is a perfect
opportunity to do so.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• Episode Commentaries
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