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The Office Special  (2003)


Directors/Creators: Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais

Rating: NR

Distributor: BBC Worldwide

Release Date: November 16, 2004
Review posted: November 15, 2004


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




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.


Meanwhile, to 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 Office lot.


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 highly recommended.




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 effects/background sounds are well balanced. Optional English subtitles are available.




The menus are brilliant once again. They're just so simple, but also good, especially with the background noise of office workers chatting around.


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.


Merchant tries to keep Gervais from busting into the memorable David Brent dance groove.


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.


Ricky Gervais 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 back-up vocals.


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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