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The Office: The Complete BBC Collection (First and Second Series Plus Special)
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Office, The - Collection (DVD)
Welcome to The Office, a place of petty rivalry, bad flirting, and easily-bruised egos. Filmed in documentary-style, this sharply observed and highly acclaimed comedy exposes the excruciating truth about the world of nine-to-five. Complete collection includes all twelve episodes plus the special.]]>
It feels both inaccurate and inadequate to describe The Office as a comedy. On a superficial level, it disdains all the conventions of television sitcoms: there are no punch lines, no jokes, no laugh tracks, and no cute happy endings. More profoundly, it's not what we're used to thinking of as funny. Most of the fervently devoted fan base watched with a discomfortingly thrilling combination of identification and mortification. The paradox is that its best moments are almost physically unwatchable. Set in the offices of a fictional British paper merchant, The Office is filmed in the style of a reality television show. The writing is subtle and deft, the acting wonderful, and the characters beautifully drawn: the cadaverous team leader Gareth (Mackenzie Crook); the monstrous sales rep, Chris Finch (Ralph Ineson); and the decent but long-suffering everyman Tim (Martin Freeman), whose ambition and imagination have been crushed out of him by the banality of ! the life he dreams uselessly of escaping. The show is stolen, as it was intended to be, by insufferable office manager David Brent, played by codirector-cowriter Ricky Gervais. Brent will become a name as emblematic for a particular kind of British grotesque as Basil Fawlty, but he is a deeper character. Fawlty is an exaggeration of reality, and therefore a safely comic figure. Brent is as appalling as only reality can be. --Andrew Mueller
The second series exceeded even the sky-high standards of the first. Indeed, it ventured beyond caricature and satire, touching on the very edge of darkness. Ricky Gervais is once again excruciatingly superb as David Brent, but in this series, Brent's to-the-camera assertions concerning his management qualities and executive capabilities are seriously challenged when the Slough and Swindon branches are merged and his former Swindon equivalent Neil (Patrick Baladi) takes over as area manager. To compensate, Brent cultivates his pathologically mistaken image of himself as an entertainer-motivator-comedian whose stage happens to be the workplace. Meanwhile, Tim, who can only maintain his sanity by teasing the priggish Gareth, continues to wrestle with his yearning for receptionist Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis), a sympathetic character persisting in a relationship with a man about whom she still maintains unspoken reservations. As ever, it's the awkward, reality TV-style pauses and silences, the furtive, meaningful and unmet glances across the emotional gulf of the open-plan office, that say it all here. As for Brent, his own breakdown is prefaced by a moment of hideous hilarity--an impromptu office dance, a mixture of "Flashdance and MC Hammer" as Brent describes it, but in reality bad beyond description. Then, when his fate is sealed, he at last reveals himself in a memorable finale to perhaps the greatest British sitcom, besides Fawlty Towers, ever made. --David Stubbs
The brilliant and devastating comedy of The Office is brought to a satisfying conclusion in The Office Special, originally a two-part Christmas special on the BBC, set three years after the end of the faux-documentary's second season. The former office manager David (Ricky Gervais) now ekes out a desperate existence as an oblivious quasi-celebrity, making awkward, humiliating visits back to the office staff he still believes loves him. Gawky Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) has risen to manager and become a petty tyrant, while the sweet but snide Tim (Martin Freeman) continues to pine for former receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis), who fled to Florida with her fiance. When the documentary crew pays for Dawn to return for the holiday party, an unpredictable reunion looms ahead. The Office fuses scathing humor and genuine empathy, turning excruciating social discomfort into inspired satire. Fans will find this special rewarding in all respects. --Bret Fetzer
- The complete 12-episode series and special
- "How I Made The Office" documentary
- Deleted scenes
- Video diary
- Golden Globes featurette
- Music video
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Top Customer Reviews
Almost every scene takes place in the dull offices of the Slough branch of the Wernham Hogg paper company (Dawn, the receptionist, accurately describes it as "a crappy sub-branch paper merchant's). Wernham Hogg employs about 40 people and we get to know all their faces as we see them stare at computer screens, take coffee breaks, and goof off day after day. It's as realistic as TV has ever been. Nobody is too pretty, everyone's "office-casual" wardrobe is slightly wrinkled, and everyone looks bored out of his or her mind most of the time.
The people we get to know best are: Gareth Keenan, a bizarre "team leader" with a fixation on survival skills; Dawn Tindsley, the sweet and sarcastic receptionist who is stuck in both a boring job and a boring relationship; Tim Canterbury, a sales rep who hates his job but can never seem to actually quit it; and David Brent, a man who thinks he's everyone's "friend as well as their boss" but who is actually liked and respected by no one.
The two main story threads running through all 14 episodes of The Office are Tim's attempts to convince Dawn to leave her idiotic fiance and David's constant need to impress his employees, bosses, and everyone he meets with his various talents. We see his "humor," his "poetry," his "songs," his "dancing," and his philosophical "wisdom." All of which are horrifyingly bad. David's constant need to perform ends up slowly destroying him, Tim and Dawn remain unhappily inert, and things get worse and worse for everyone until the show almost becomes unbearable to watch. The cast is so good, though, and every line so pitch perfect, that you'd follow these people anywhere, even in despair. Also, the great thing about The Office is, like life, all the possibilities continually exist for these characters and we never know when they might have a moment of redemption.
So, it's not strictly a comedy, but it is the funniest, most devastating, and strangely uplifting show I have seen in recent years.
There doesn't have to be two camps, I also watch and enjoy the American version of The Office. But I love to show episodes of the British The Office to my American friends who have never seen it but already love the American version. It is an eye opener.
A side note: This was the comedic debut of Ricky Gervais, who also wrote and directed the show with the director Stephen Merchant. They went on to create the successful series Extras. Ricky Gervais has since appeared in many American film comedies and does an excellent solo act in concert. Both Gervais and Merchant are the executive producers of the American version. An amazing bit of casting is Martin Freeman playing Tim in the British version and John Krasinski playing Jim in the American version -- they look and act so much alike they could've been twins separated at birth!