Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais
Date: November 16, 2004
Review posted: November 15, 2004
Three years after
the cameras stopped rolling, the BBC returns to Wernham-Hogg to
catch up with the staff, past and present, of the most famous
paper merchants in Slough. Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) is now office
manager and Tim (Martin Freeman), last seen asking Dawn (Lucy
Davis) out (again), appears to be nearing the point of despair.
David Brent (Ricky Gervais) has blown his redundancy money on
releasing a single, and now makes his living selling cleaning
products door-to-door and making z-list celebrity appearances.
Meanwhile, Dawn and her fiancé Lee have relocated to Florida, but
are being flown over specially by the documentary makers for the
end-of-year office party. This two-part special of The Office
finally brings the story to a close, as we find out whether anyone
in this life ever gets what they really want.
The summary above
describes pretty much what The Office Special is about.
Just reading over it now made me laugh, mostly the part about
David Brent releasing a single and making celebrity appearances,
such as saying "hello" on stage in front of a large crowd in a
club, or playing a contestant on a dating game show (the one where
the girl asks the bachelors a series of questions). To clarify,
The Office Special is comprised of two 45-minute parts that
aired on BBC America last month, but more the two episodes are
really Christmas specials.
Whether you've read
my review of the second season DVD
or not, the score on the top right on this page should be
indication enough of how high I regard and how much I admire
The Office. In fact, the specials are a tiny bit better than
the episodes from the second season. First of all, the atmosphere
at Wernham-Hogg has changed, especially with Gareth as office
manager. As for Tim, he still sits on the same chair, but now
works opposite a pregnant co-worker who won't keep her mouth shut.
coincide with the office's Christmas party, David Brent stops by
for a visit. He notices a "new Dawn" at reception, greets Tim at
his desk for some chatter, and then checks out his old office to
say hello to Gareth. Brent hangs out there for a while, and later
Neil the boss comes by to tell him that he can't just drop in
whenever he wants since he doesn't work at Wernham-Hogg anymore.
Aside from making celebrity appearances, Brent also signs up with
a dating service to try and meet women, but this doesn't go over
very well with his expectations.
Cheers from the
The Office is
damn funny, period. You must watch this show if you like comedy
TV. There's no reason for me to repeat myself from my other
review, so it goes without saying: The Office comes very
The BBC presents The
Office in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality looks
natural, colors are bright, and overall there are no flaws with
the print. Very nice quality, it looks much better than on TV.
The BBC presents The
Office in English 2.0 Dolby Surround Sound. Except for the
opening theme, all sound comes from the front speakers. Dialogue
is always clear and easy to understand, and sound
are well balanced. Optional English subtitles are
The menus are
brilliant once again. They're just so simple, but also good,
especially with the background noise of office workers chatting
The first and best
extra on this DVD is The Office: Closed for Business
(22:34) documentary. It features brief clips from the show and
interviews with Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, the series
creators and directors, and actors Martin Freeman, Mackenzie
Crook, and Lucy Davis. The first part is recalling the show and
stuff, then it transitions into the making of the Christmas
special episodes. Merchant and Gervais give some explanations
and discuss different things, such as the focus of the love
relationship between Tim and Dawn, and we also see them (mostly
Gervais) in a car driving through Slough briefly scouting
locations that could represent David Brent's home.
to keep Gervais from busting into the memorable David Brent
After that we get
a series of outtakes with Gervais at the wheel while filming his
driving scenes (he turns the wheel left and right, nods at
drivers next to him, and laughs hysterically), plus a series of
takes with Gervais cracking up Martin Freeman. And, of course,
Freeman offers an interesting analysis of this. Meanwhile,
Mackenzie Crook tells of pictures Gervais would hold up between
shots or something. Later Merchant asks Gervais about
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and the response is funny
in a subtle sort of way.
In the concluding
portion of the documentary, the actors mull about where their
characters may end up and discuss how the show impacted them and
so on. And on a last note, the montage at the very end set to
the show's theme song is just great, it left me in a kind of
feel good moment for a minute or so until Gervais ends his
interview session with Merchant by getting up from his couch
announcing it's over because he's going to the Sauna. As for the
show ending and not working together anymore, he says, "Get over
it. Next." Says Merchant, "A bit harsh." Well, yeah, but it's
been great fun!
Wow, so, next is
the Golden Globe featurette (5:46) that follows Gervais,
Merchant, Freeman, and Davis to the awards show in Los Angeles.
There's good behind-the-scenes footage here as well as
interviews after the fact. It's a fun watch. Gervais' story at
the end is, well, funny.
Next is the "If
You Don't Know Me By Now" full video and song (3:35).
Gervais is dressed in all white satin clothing singing the song
inside an apartment.
For fun, click the
copy machine or the food plate on it for the music video
outtakes (1:37). The scenes here are all mishaps with
Gervais cracking up. The nature of the video is serious sort of,
it is intended to be anyway, and so Gervais laughing it up
becomes just gut-bustingly funny.
can't help himself - this is just too funny.
The full band
version of "Free Love Freeway" (4:42) takes place in the
recording studio with Gervais and friends singing/recording the
song, with him doing the main vocals, playing guitar, a friend
on the drums, and one of the Gallagher brothers providing
The last extra is
an audio commentary by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais.
These guys have great chemistry, sometimes they're a bit quiet
or laugh it up, but the general information gleaned from their
comments should be interesting to Office fans.
The extras this time
around are more satisfying, and the two-part Special is just great. I
laughed a lot and had a great time watching it. File an application
with Wernham-Hogg, err, I mean, check out The Office!
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