The Office: The Complete First Series
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Office, The: The Complete First Series (DVD)
Welcome to Wernham Hogg, a suburban paper company where "life is stationery." Critics and fans alike have lauded this hilarious, biting look at everyday office life, told in the mockumentary style of cult comedy classics such as This is Spinal Tap and The Larry Sanders Show. The show revolves around David Brent, (an instant classic character widely compared to Basil Fawlt of Fawlty Towers) the oblivious general manager who instigates petty office rivalries. The wince-worthy Brent still considers himself "a friend first and a boss second...probably an entertainer third."
Work is hell...but one man's misery is another man's hilarious home video hit. Welcome to The Office.
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
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Top customer reviews
And as great as the charcter of David Brent is (and others for that matter-who can forget Finchy? Keith?), I really do believe that Gareth steals the show. How funny is he & the whole scene for that matter, when he harmonizes with David "on the hot love highway" on training day? His interrogation methods, ex-Territorial Army experience, title of Assistant (to the) Regional Manager, & his responsibilities as "Team Leader." His character is too funny... & it has the kind of potential for a spin off series.
Like to add that, I do believe the series gets better in Season 2 (and unfortunately, the last season? Say it ain't so Mr. Gervias). The second season manages to create more uncomfortable situations with the addition of Neil, who becomes David's boss (he is mentioned several times by Jenifer, as the Swindon branch manager who makes the necessary changes that David neglects) I look forward to seeing it released in the US VERY soon.
For those skeptcal US viewers, check it out. There isn't a comedy of this sort in the States right now, & it's rather unique.
Wernham Hogg is a suburban paper corporation, a stunningly dull place to work. And presiding over it is David Brent (Ricky Gervais), a wannabe comic who claims to be a pal to all the people under him, despite driving them all up the wall. There's also his partner in crime, vaguely corpse-like Gareth (Mackenzie Crook), the downtrodden everyman Tim (Martin Freeman), and the beautiful Dawn (Lucy Davis), whom Tim hopelessly longs for.
In the first season, David is informed that either his branch or another branch are going to be eliminated. If his branch is eliminated, some people will be downsized, and others relocated. The employees -- including Tim and Dawn -- reexamine their lives as they struggle to survive in the day-to-day chaos, including a Web porn scandal, a quiz competition, giant inflatable genitals, drunken carousing, inter-office romances, and Gareth playing detective.
Don't expect a typical sitcom in "The Office." No laughtracks. No punch lines. No gag humor... well, not much. And no episode has a clear-cut ending. Instead, we have the format seen in "This is Spinal Tap" and the Christopher Guest mockumentaries -- hidden cameras watching the madness. And what those cameras see is enough to make the world's cubicle-dwellers cry.
The series gets off to a slightly bumpy start -- at first, the jokes are a bit too thinly-spread. But soon "The Office" gets its footing and the humor steadies itself ("Tim's put my stapler inside a jelly again. That's the third time he's done it!" Gareth complains, displaying the stapler in a Jell-O mold). And a lot of the humor is a subversive, subtle kind -- it creeps into your mind, and by episode two you'll be laughing your head off at David's bad jokes and veiled prejudices.
Ricky Gervais is brilliant. David is every bit as annoying and obnoxious as the immortal Basil Fawlty, but hides it under a genial mask and stupid jokes. Mackenzie Crook is wonderful as the obsequious boot-licker. Tim, like Dilbert, is a lovable loser who can't get himself out of his soul-sucking job. And Dawn is mired in a relationship with an obnoxious cheapskate.
More subtle and yet goofier than American sitcoms, "The Office" is a unique slice of British humor. Funny, witty, and horrifyingly true to life, this is a brilliant series.
The one thing that amazed me most was the character development. As a viewer, I felt (by the end of the first episode) like I was a part of this particular office and was annoyed on a daily basis with David Brent- the painfully ignorant, yet comical (in that kind of laughing at you way) and his sidekick-Gareth. The uncomfortable feeling you get watching Tim flirt with David's secretary, not quite knowing whether it would develop into anything else- all the while wondering: "would this follow the organizations ethical standards?" The parties thrown in order to build team spirit and show appreciation for the workers- only to turn into dull wastes of time for those who attend. Practically every office scenario that could occur, actually does in this series- and always in a way that makes you shake your head.
You can't help feeling bad for the workers of this office, and yet almost ashamed that a part of what is going on there is what actually goes on where you work. This series touches upon all that SHOULD be laughed at with corporate office environments and does a very good job of keeping it short and sweet.
Literally only four hours long total, I recommend this highly to anyone that has ever thought that they have wasted their time with an organization.