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The last ten years saw the rise of two love-'em-or-hate-'em formats: fly-on-the-wall (Airline, Club Reps, The Osbournes to name but a few) and the new generation spoof treatment of staid TV formats (The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge). It was inevitable that somebody would at some stage try to combine these genres. The Office was a low budget and unambitious attempt at pulling off a spoof fly-on-the-wall series, although this was not the first time such a feat had been attempted - BBC2's series People Like Us had gained a cult following but failed to make it into the mainstream.
Ricky Gervais, the writer and star of The Office, was first seen on Channel 4's 11 O'Clock Show (the show that also launched Ali G) with brief comedy spots that failed to set the nation on fire but got his brand of humour noticed by the executives. He was then given an offbeat chat show on Channel 4, which had limited appeal and failed to pull in the viewers. The Office, which Gervais co-wrote with Stephen Merchant, slipped onto our screens without much ado on a weekday evening in 2001. Aptly, its initial popularity stemmed from people chatting at work the next day. "Did you see that 'office' thing on BBC2 last night?".
At first glance The Office seems insignificant and weak, and its comedy value appears thin, but after watching two or more episodes its hidden depths start to emerge. The show is set in a Slough paper merchants. A grey and drab opening sequence sets the scene of a stupefyingly boring location which typifies the British workplace. Littered around the offices of Wernham Hogg are extras and bit-part actors who do a fantastic job in their portrayal of the clerical workers; their bored and dejected expressions sometimes verge on suicidal. The rhythmic humming of photocopiers and fingers tapping at keyboards are the only noises to break the silence. It's a place where the characters around you are the only thing that can make or break your day. And in this particular case, they normally break it.
The Office's piéce de résistance is a man named David Brent (Ricky Gervais) - the boss. He has elements of everything that we all hate in the stereotypical 'manager'. Brent is selfish, insensitive, slimy, and manages to combine an inflated sense of self-importance with a lurking insecurity. Moreover, David Brent is lives under a constant delusion that he is a master comedian, yet none of his staff seem to be remotely amused by his jokes. His humour is naff, highly insensitive and badly judged ' hence we find ourselves laughing at the humour in an ironic way. Anyone who has seen Gervais' other comedy work will observe that Brent's character contains more than a whiff of Gervais himself, with overtly offensive jibes about "Jeremy Beadle's withered hand", "Ethiopians with flies on their faces" and "Ian Botham walking to John O'Groats for some spastics". If Jim Davidson had said half of those things he would surely have been banned from television for the rest of his life.
But the character of Brent is multilayered and embodies as much tragedy as it does comedy. We see Brent laid bare for the lonely and pathetic man he really is: desperate to be liked. He seeks constant reassurance from his employees that he is funny, sensitive, intellectual and above all, a great boss. Yet Brent's quest to be wanted seems entirely fruitless; his staff harbour a quiet loathing towards him. Sometimes you wonder if an average bunch of office workers really would stare in stunned silence at this man's fatuous comedy turns, if only for the fact that he deserves a laugh of sympathy. But it remains crucial to the show that not one 'Office' employee finds Brent funny - and so they stare in muted disbelief, while the viewer at home cringes with embarrassment.
Brent's right-hand man is Gareth Keenan, a petty and infuriating team leader, played by the scary looking Mackenzie Crook. Like Brent, Gareth is another caricature made up of many elements of dysfunctional people that are commonplace in everyday life. He is obsessed with the small world of company politics amid his hunger to brown-nose his way up the corporate ladder. Gareth's many quirks include his over-zealous adherence to rules and regulations, and his constant pursuit of women which makes for disastrous results when combined with his condescending views about the opposite sex. "If you expect me to go in there afterwards", he says to one female employee (whilst pointing at her vagina), "make sure he uses protection, because I don't do sloppy seconds".
Tim Canterbury, played by Martin Freeman, is the voice of reason. He plays the role of the typical viewer when implanted into such a situation - his facial expressions and dry sarcasm provide a running commentary on the madness that surrounds him. He is bemused by the enigma that is David Brent, is constantly aggravated by Gareth, whilst providing us with the male half of a simmering office romance with Dawn (Lucy Davies), the office secretary. Like Tim, Dawn hates her job and sees nothing but futility in the whole company. The interaction between all the characters is a joy to watch. Nobody really likes anybody else, but they struggle to get along. The casting of the show's lesser characters has been carried out with great precision, from Keith, the overweight and obnoxious accounts clerk, to Chris Finch, the offensive chauvinistic sales rep. The lads in the warehouse also portray a microcosm of male-dominated British workplaces, with their trading of porn videos and sexist banter.
The production is carefully contrived to emulate a typical fly-on-the-wall show. At times it is easy to forget that this is a work of fiction, as the camera work is often shaky and the scripting seems unplanned (which, of course, much of it is). The "reality footage" of the "camera crew" is interspersed with interview-style set pieces featuring the four main characters, all broadly tying in with the thrust of each episode. We see countless clips of Brent's banal philosophising whilst nervously adjusting his tie and stroking his revolting goatee beard. During another point in the first series there is a delightful crossover moment as Tim suddenly breaks free from one of his interview pieces and walks out of the room to ask Dawn for a date. We can only assume that this is what he asks her, though, as Tim has turned off his "Big Brother" style microphone and can only be seen talking to Dawn in silence. For the real anoraks like myself, this is a glaring mistake in the show as the characters never wore clip-on microphones in the first place.
A story line of impending redundancies roughly carves its way through the first series although some episodes can be seen as standalones which make little reference to the ongoing story (these are the episodes picked out for in-flight entertainment on Britannia and Airtours!). David Brent fails to take on board the reality that some of his staff are to be laid off, and continues to dig an ever-deepening hole for himself by assuring them that their jobs are safe despite knowing otherwise. Matters come to a head in the final episode of series one when Brent is forced to break the bad news but does so in the most thoughtless of ways by attempting to soften the bombshell with the announcement that he has been promoted.
Series two builds itself around Brent's jealousy towards his new boss Neil (played by Patrick Baladi), a man who is handsome, has good leadership skills and is universally admired by all the staff. Brent feels shattered and undermined by Neil's arrival and goes into denial at the fact that Neil is everything Brent has always aspired to be. Here we see the now famous 'Brent dance' scene which was probably the most broadcast clip of 2003. To fully appreciate the scene you must first see the moments leading up to it, in which Neil impresses his staff with a carefully rehearsed dance from Saturday Night Fever to raise money for Comic Relief. Neil has gone to great effort to perfect his routine, and has even hired a Bee Gees outfit, but we see Brent seething with hatred as he watches Neil stealing the limelight, before attempting to upstage him with his impromptu "ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner" routine. Towards the end of the series Brent ties himself into knots over Neil's popularity until the point where he loses focus on his work and is eventually given the push by the company. This makes for a genuinely moving piece of fabulous acting by Ricky Gervais as his voice breaks whilst begging Neil for his job back.
Series two also explores Brent's obsession with political correctness, and we observe him trying too hard to convince people that he is not prejudiced towards race, gender or disability. Consequently Brent manages to upset just about everyone in his bungled attempts to be a modern boss. It is quite apparent, however, that behind the mask Brent is indeed the worst kind of racist, homophobe and sexist who has hijacked modern-day political correctness in the workplace as a platform to further himself with. Perhaps the most telling moment of this comes as Brent refers to a racist word used in an old film, but attempts to justify it with the line "that was in the 1940's before racism was bad."
Both series have a long running subplot in the "will they won't they" relationship between Tim and Dawn, which knits the episodes together with a little hint of soap opera. This is finally resolved in the two Christmas specials shown in 2003. For anyone who has not yet seen these final shows, I will not divulge the ending as the beauty lies in the surprise. The Christmas specials also show us what happened to David Brent since his departure from Wernham Hogg, and follow his attempts at finding a girlfriend. Again, there is a definitive 'ending' here which is warm hearted and poignant. The format of The Office was tweaked slightly for the 2003 Christmas specials, as for the first time ever the spoof "BBC production team" could be heard posing questions to the main characters during their pieces to camera, giving the show more of an investigational feel.
After 14 episodes it now seems almost certain that Gervais will not write any more material for the Office. Naturally he feels that the only direction for the show's popularity is down, and it's a safe bet to follow the Fawlty Towers formula and quit on a high.
So what turned this lowbrow comedy into a soar away success that won two Golden Globe awards? The concept is fairly original but without Gervais the show would be nothing. His awkward, cringe worthy behaviour and funny little mannerisms are central to everything that takes place. Many people are turned off by The Office - they complain of waiting all episode for a joke to come along. Well, The Office is really a different breed to everything that has gone before. There are no real punch lines to be found, just biting observations of real human characteristics. I suspect that in order to enjoy the show you need to have worked with a 'David Brent' at some previous point in your life.
Series 1 and 2 are available on BBC DVD, and a boxed set including the two Christmas specials has been released on DVD in time for this Christmas.
As the good people of dooyoo who make an effort to read my ops may have found, I have been inactive in the dooyoo world for a few months. I felt I was beginning to write ops for the sake of it. My first spurt on the sight consisted of many ?forced? ops-opinions with a subject matter that I was not really passionate about. I found myself looking for things to have an opinion on and write an opinion about and I felt this was not the way to go about constructing my ops for it would inevitably result in half-hearted pieces that would be greatly lacking in quality. Days and weeks went by and I still found nothing about which I felt passionate enough to write an op and I gradually lost the desire to write ops on dooyoo. That is until I encountered my source of inspiration in the rare gem that is The Office. Actually, ?inspiration? is an understatement. This program grabbed me by the arm, dragged me to my personal computer and plonked me on the swivel chair with authority and I?m back. The beginning of 2002 saw my father, much against his principles agree to purchase Sky Digital. However, in order not to admit complete defeat he restricted us to having only the package with the minimum channels available which consisted of a couple of music channels, crappy sports channels, a ridiculous amount of shopping channels and the secondary terrestrial channels such as BBC Choice, ITV2 and E4. Our favourite was E4 with delights such as Jackass, new Ally Mcbeal, new West Wing and The Office on show every day. My ignorance at the time caused me to immediately disregard The Office. In fact the program caused me much annoyance at times when it over-ran into The West Wing, which came after it. I forgave myself though for I feel I was cruelly deceived as I conceded that on the surface, the program can surely not strike the prudent man as holding much promise. For starters, it would seem that the imagination of the creators had called in sick, thus resulting in the prog
ram?s straight-to-the-point title ?The Office.? After seeing it listed in the TV guide, there is a feeling of disbelief and to an extent disappointment, when you tune in to find that the program, as promised by the title and in accordance with natural expectations quite explicitly depicts the goings on in an office. How can realistic portrayal of ?office life? be in the slightest bit entertaining? Apart from solitary imprisonment is there a more boring and soul-destroying place on this earth than an office? It would thus be hard to imagine how one could extract a sufficient amount of comedy from it. I was left with not an ounce of desire to sit down and watch the program. Recently though, I had the programme enforced on me by new friends at uni. Day after day I?d venture one of their rooms to find them watching this programme. I soon came to realise that a condition I had to satisfy in order to be accepted into the gang was the constant viewing of the office. I thus decided to borrow the first series DVD to see what all the fuss was about. I sat down and watched the first series and was immediately hooked. Tim?s constant teasing of Gareth and Brent?s general demeanour had me almost in tears. I saw that much laughter could be drawn from the tedium that is the everyday office. The ?spoof documentary? is deceptive in that it provides ample opportunity for comedy. It allows for those funny natural human instincts such as the obvious flirting between characters Tim and Dawn and those little awkward silences. The show does this really well, and much of this can be attributed to the cast, whose acting is so natural that it can so easily be mistaken for a real documentary as I so did in my Sky Digital days. Cast Ricky Gervais ? David Brent Former 11 O Clock Show reporter Ricky Gervais not only stars in the Office, but also created, co-directed and co-wrote the film with pal Steve Merchant. Gervais plays the ?superstar? boss David Brent,
a popular, funny, charismatic boss. In his own mind that is. In fact Brent is quite the opposite. He tries very hard, in vain to be one of the ordinary workers, giving them nicknames, joining in the banter and the like. He seems to have no idea whatsoever of the notion of context. He says and does things, which really should be left for outside office hours, or indeed things that should never be said at all. For instance, in one of the early episodes in the first series, he is seen to be sharing a joke with ?pal? Chris Finch, which goes something like ?What?s black and slides down Nelson?s column????Winnie Mandela, which I personally found hilarious, yet cringed at the thought of displaying such crude humour in the workplace and in front of cameras. It is immature, childish behaviour like this that generally constitutes the comedic appeal of this character. David Brent is an immature, childish and sleazy attention seeker who thinks he?s the greatest man to have walked the planet yet you find yourself nevertheless liking him. It?s pity more than anything. No doubt you?ve all witnessed somebody do the David Brent dance and no doubt it was funny at first but the next time they do it you will in fact clobber them yet such is the genius of the man that he makes thousands dance like monkeys. McKenzie Crook ? Gareth Keenan. McKenzie is an Arsenal supporter, which is not at all surprising given his genius in portraying the pedantic Gareth Keenan. Everybody knows a Gareth. You know, the pizza faced kid at school who would nevertheless go after the girlies as if he were God?s gift to women, the dude behind the counter at Mcdonald's who proudly brandishes his 5 stars as if they were OBEs. Gareth is Team Leader in the office, as he regularly reminds everyone. Gareth used to be in the (territorial) army as he regularly reminds everyone. Gareth, like Mr Brent is a complete loser, as he conveniently fails to remind everyone. His interaction with Tim form
s the most part of his comedy. Throughout the episodes we constantly see Tim teasing Gareth, winding him up so he and his audience can laugh at him. Like the time when the new boy started and on meeting the two witnessed one of their petty disputes. Tim had in fact submerged Gareth?s stapler in green jelly. Gareth, in a nutshell is a harmless wannabe. Martin Freeman ? Tim Canterbury Apparently sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Watch Martin Freeman?s performances as Tim in the office. Tim is my favourite character and Martin pulls it off so well. I doubt anybody could play Tim better. Martin can convey sarcasm so effortlessly, often with a single facial expression or a single sound. When Brent and Gareth get up to their cringe-worthy ways, one look at Tim?s sarcastic, this-is-what-I-have-to-work-with face wraps it up. When Brent brings his guitar in for a singing session during a group training exercise, you laugh as Tim ?enthusiastically? sings along with Brent?s song while unbeknown to David, he is in being mocked. Tim?s intelligence far exceeds that of the other characters and he does not want to be amongst such inferior beings. That is except for the secretary ? Dawn who Tim obviously fancies. However, Tim is always knocked back when he makes advances towards the young secretary given she has a boyfriend. The interaction between these two characters adds much to the comedy because they share many uncomfortable silences and way too obvious flirtation which I'm sure we can all identify with. As one may be able to tell by the diminishing standard of my writing, I am getting quite tired now and I am ready for bed so I won?t write about the other characters except to say that the lady who plays Dawn, in case you did not already know is in fact Jasper Carrot?s daughter and Keith, the fat dude with the goatee is hilarious. Just one look at his expressionless face cracks me up every time especially when Brent describes him as mad and wild.
Office addicts like my sad self will recognise the above title as one of David Brent?s sayings. For the uninitiated it goes something like 'you?ve got to look at the whole pie with regard to the current development situation?' This is the kind of waffly, nonsensical, management speak that he delights in. Before I go any further I originally wrote this review about the video of episode 1 that I've got I can't find it on dooyoo, so I'm putting it in with the general tv show. The Office is a spoof documentary style series which is based in the Slough branch of Wernham and Hogg paper merchant.The characters are what make the office unique. Most people who have worked in an average working environment will recognise traits from these characters. DAVID BRENT (Ricky Gervis, co-writer) is the manager of the office. He likes talking in silly management speak to make himself sound brighter than he is and to try and cover up when he doesn?t know the answer to something. I'm sure a lot of people have had bosses who are guilty of that. He thinks he's a lot funnier than he is, most of his jokes are feeble and he seems immune to the blank, bored looks he gets from his staff. He's overly politically correct, in a way that suggests he may be a bit prejudiced. David is convinced that the office is a fun, crazy place to work whilst in reality its humdrum and monotonous. GARETH is the assistant to the regional manager (David) or as he would put it assistant regional manager. He's a bit of a jobsworth and apart from David is the only person to be happy to be working at Wernham and Hoggs. He used to be in the territorial army and considers himself to be a bit of a military man. He's obsessed with the army and military techniques. What makes this funnier is Gareth is quite weedy, with a sparrow like face and he talks about how he could kill a man if it was absolutely necessary. TIM is a normal, regula
r bloke. He lacks confidence and drive thus his job involves describing paper and quantities to customers and boring himself silly. He has a crush on Dawn, the receptionist. He has to share a desk with Gareth who drives him to distraction with his pedantic nature and military talk. Tim's slightly raised eyebrowed looks that he gives the camera after one of Gareth?s ramblings is very funny. DAWN is another normal one. She has a crush on Tim and a boyfriend from the warehouse. She is bemused by David most of the time. KEITH is in accounts, he is one of the side characters, but very funny. There is something very deadpan about his face that is funny. His voice is slow and almost comatose which is very funny. It doesn't sound that great, but you have to see it to see the funny side. CHRIS FINCH is a sales rep and David's ideal. Chris is flash, cheesey and prone to sexist remarks. However, he thinks he's quite something and David is desperate to be his mate. Tim and Dawn are the 'straight' characters that illustrate the humour in David and Gareth's actions. If you have a funny line from them and then Dawn and Tim's bemused faces and reactions makes it funnier. The video covers all six episodes in series 1 EPISODE 1 Introduces the characters. The best bit from this is Tim hiding Gareth's stapler in jelly, I just think that scene is hysterical EPISODE 2 Donna (who is staying with David), daughter of David's friends comes to work in the office and David trys to show her how fun and zany the office is whilst she is very underwhelmed. David has a meeting with the staff to say that either the Slough or Swindon branch will incorporate the other depending on profitibiity. Porn featuring David's head is found on a computer and Gareth with his special 'interrogation experience' is asked to try and find the culprit. EPISODE 3 Tim's 30th birthday and Da
vid?s philosophy whilst talking about his senile dad is 'he's now a vegetable and thats what we?ve all got to look forward to' The company quiz and David is in a team with Chris Finch, they?re both overly obsessed with winning the quiz. David is disturbed by blockbuster appearing temp Ricky's general knowledge. EPISODE 4 The office has a training day. This highlights some of the great truths about staff training, cheesey videos, pointless diagrams, pointless objectives, but a day of work. David has an external person to run the session, but isn't pleased with that, because he of course thinks he knows better. EPISODE 5 In episode 5 David interviews for a new secretary when he is supposed to be making people redundant. He's rather taken with the lady applicant and you just know that the male applicant doesn?t stand a chance. In the evening they descend on a local nightclub which is a bit of a naff place. David finds out who in the office Donna has been sleeping with. EPISODE 6 In this episode the decision about which branch will be incorporate is made. Also there?s the end of financial year party with a chance to win a printer in the raffle I've not gone into too much detail in case you?ve not watched it. Wernham and Hogg office is set in Slough Trading estate because it's dreary and a bit depressing (no disrespect if you actually do work there!). There?s a lovely shot of a bus coming out of Slough bus depot and the main roundabout in Slough, it?s the sort of dreary start to the day that will not inspire you for a day at work. The Office is often painfully funny, because although it's exagerrated a lot of it strikes a chord. It?s full of characters who hate their jobs and can?t think how they ended up with them. Incompetent people have responsible jobs. Bosses talk in management babble to make themselves sound good. David Brent thinks he?s a lot funnier than he is and is forever tellin
g bad jokes, but doesn't like to be on the receiving end of humour. Workdays are monotonous, there are some great clips in the office of people staring blankly into space or tapping at a computer, this makes it seem less 'staged' than a lot of comedy programmes. The documentary idea works really well, because of the 'asides' characters have when they explained their philosophies on life, which usually turn out to be funny. Well all I can say is that I hope they make a third series.
The Office takes everyday life behind a desk...and makes it side-splittingly funny. Ricky Gervais took a terribly mundane concept, and created a brilliantly captivating concept. Nothing much happens in the way of a plot in this series...we follow the lives of normal people working in a paper manufacturing office, in a fly-on-the-wall documentary style. No laughter track, no exotic scenery no expensive hairstyles or lighting effects...just fantastically tragic comedy. The head manager of the office, David Brent (played to perfection by Gervais himself), is the slimeball we've all met. Greasier than a chipshop full of Mark Lamarrs, he likes to think he's the perfect boss - everybody's mate, but still well respected..."basically, I'm a chilled out entertainer"...whereas in reality he's a pervy, creepy, sad little man. His scenes one-on-one with the camera are great, peppered with business jargon and tired old clichés...you'll be cowering behind the sofa in glee. There are three other main characters: Tim, the desperate character wasting away beside losers who bores himself just talking about his position; Dawn, the curvaceous, flirtatious secretary that never seems to get any work done but always manages to find time to get lusted over by Brent; and finally, my favourite character, Gareth. In the new series, Gareth is described to a tee by Tim as "the divvy at school who got to be milk monitor just so he thought he had an important job". He is Team Leader, and takes great pride in his work, meticulous in his organisation. This could perhaps be attributed to his stint in the TA, mentioned many times over the series, be it directly, or hinted at when Gareth starts a speech on the best way to shoot an old person. The way these three interact is always a joy to behold, be it idle chatter degenerating into vicious gossip between Dawn and Tim, or Gareth having his stapler put in jelly. Even when it seems like noth
ing at all is going on, you're left quietly laughing at the whole situation. David, always keen to maintain his image as one of the lads, can barely go fifteen minutes without mentioning marathon drinking sessions with Gareth...and on the flip side of the coin, he talks about how everyone respects his authority (which they don't), and how good a job he does (which he doesn't). There are a few other fringe characters, including one or two select members of the rest of the office's keyboard-tapping hordes, and David Brent's best friend's cameos, no matter how brief, always steal the show. As I said before, there's no laughter track, which means that Gervais' cheesy jokes and awful innuendos are greeted not with spectacular guffaws, but rather deafening laughter. It helps to add a hideously cringe-inducing atmosphere for which The Office has now grown famous. As far as extras go, The Office is far from up there with the DVD elite such as Lord of The Rings or Shrek, only managing a forty-odd minute documentary with Ricky Gervais talking about creating this bizarre universe...but really, that's the only fault I can find in this package. This minor shortcoming is more than made up for with the tiny price which means that for just a bit more than your average DVD like Blade II, you can get the whole first series of this gem of a show. You may spend some times holding a pillow over your eyes as David laughs at his own bad jokes, or Gareth goes into the intricate details of territorial army life...but it's definitely worth enduring. Often you'll smile, sometimes you'll cry, but you'll always be thoroughly entertained. The Office DVD is an essential purchase...find out what all the fuss is about, and order it!
The Office is a situation-comedy, in the refreshing guise of fly-on-the-wall parody. But before I strain my vocabulary for words that mean ‘funny’ (I’ll need at least sixteen others to make it through this opinion), allow me to throw out some adjectives you weren’t expect to hear from this genre: Believable. Enlightening. Relevant. Moving. That is, of course, unless you’ve seen The Office before, in which case you’ll know exactly what I mean. If I were David Brent, the main protagonist in the series, I’d likely describe the show with an allegory alluding to the rise of the Roman Empire, The Last Supper or the Russian emancipation. On a more modest day, perhaps, England’s World Cup glory in 1966. Whatever it might be, what would be so painfully funny (or annoying, as it’s written on a screen) would be how over-blown and preposterous, how self-deluded and, well, naively pretentious I’d sound. Yet, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is greatest joke of all. The Office, unlike it’s leading character, can and will live up to any compliments bestowed upon it. Which is why you must rush to HMV this instant, and purchase a copy of the first series on DVD. The premise, as mentioned, is a mock voyeuristic documentary set in a typical working office. This variation makes only for certain stylistic changes, which, once noticed and gotten used to, enrich and elevate the show beyond the it’s more convention competitors – formulaic American shows such as Friends or even Frasier, for example, soon seem flat when compared to Gervais and Merchant’s direction. Canned laughter, for example, is automatically absent. No life-less guitar lick threads each third of an episode. The camera work splits between the infamous talking-head sequences, free-hand moving shots and secure shots around the office – combined with the dazzling realism of the script and the acting (all from f
ully-trained non-comic actors), the atmosphere created is one of genuine and believable spontaneity. Gervais plays Brent, a incompetent manager who becomes immediately and obviously affected by the presence of television cameras in his office. In endlessly creative ways he seeks to perpetuate an image of popularity, sensitivity and intelligence that are thoroughly and awfully contradicted by his actions and the reactions of those around him. Herein lies the comedy. Like Chaucer’s aging Merchant, we laugh at Brent because he thinks he’s something that we know he is not. In the words of one friend as he watched The Office, “it feels good to cringe”. And yes, his ‘dance’ in series two will make you wet yourself. No, however, it can and does get funnier still. Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis play Tim and Dawn, through whom the show’s ‘ace card’ is played. Suddenly, at times, you are no longer aching with laughter but with deep desperation and peculiar sadness at the story of two people in love, yet helplessly apart (I’m biting my thumb in avoidance of a flippant allusion to Shakespeare). The subtle beauty of The Office is shown in Tim’s glance at Dawn as she works, and her at him. In all honesty, the only scenes with any true good in them are of these two, though it is never long before the lurking figure of Gervais descends like the world’s funniest rain-cloud to dampen the love. Then there is Gareth, played by Mackenzie Crook, who constitutes the show’s most typically comic offering. Hilarious both as a physical presence (the costume design works deliberately so that he seems absurdly disproportionate), and as a harmless wally side-kick for Brent. For every obscenely crude and tactless pass he makes at female members of the cast, there is a talking-head in which Gareth muses child-like about, to pick something direct from the script, the likelihood of a b
oy being born who can swim faster then a shark. Along side these main four, there are a cast of twenty or so others. Although their primary function is to form an audience for Brent’s moments of idiocy and indiscretion, occasional character’s such as David’s bully of a best-friend ‘Finchey’ are works of genius in their own right. Oh just buy it. The Office grows funnier and funnier still, and unlike other comedies I have indulged in repeated viewing, there is never the fear that the bubble with burst and you’ll grow bored. There is simply too much depth, too much quality, for this ever to happen. As well as the first (and marginally best) six episodes, the DVD includes a length and interesting (if somewhat randomly structured) documentary and collection of decent deleted scenes. It’s nice when the hype is real, it’s nice when you can rant and rave about something without secretly knowing you’re exaggerating. The Office is everything television should be, innovative, intelligent and a tremendous pleasure to watch. Oh, and if you ever saw the last three series of Red Dwarf, the newest Simpsons or Alan Partridge 3, then you’ll be pleased to hear Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have decided not to write another series of the show. Like Faulty Towers, The Office is destined to transform from a drop of gold in a pot of brass, to an enduring and cherished jewel from our life-time. Bravo.
Some dismiss The Office as not being funny at all. That's their loss, just because it doesn't have a canned laughter soundtrack and completely farcical situations it shouldn't be dismissed. The programme adopts observational humour with a bunch of characters that you just known are based on people in real life. That's because those of us that have worked in a office or group enviroment have come across these kinds of people before. Ricky Gervais stars as David Brent, the office manager who is always putting his foot in it. He's one of the most cringeworthy characters on television. A man who always makes jokes which turn out to horribly wrong and incur complaints of racism in the workplace. His work ethic mantra is to have fun but ultimately it leads to no one taking him seriously. The you have Gareth who has a assistant managerial role which somes with no authority whatsoever. Gareth isn't subtle in his attempts to come on the female members of staff. In the new series he tries to comes on to the new girl from Swindon with some routine questions but forewarning her that is she has sex with another office member first then she must make sure he wears a condom as he doesn't do "sloppy seconds". The other office member in question is Tim, a man who ultimately wants to get out of the office and go to university but it's not looking likely as he's approachin thirty. Instead he remains content with winding Garath up by setting his stapler in jelly and crazy stuff like that. The office works because it takes on different levels. In a way it takes the mick out of reality TV shows by adopting a documentary style and applying to the incredibly dull world of office supplies. But it also works because you laugh at the situations and cringe at the way David Brent conducts himself in the workplace. He makes your flesh crawl purely because he's just overbeatingly nice. Every week bring more comedy gold
but the sad thing is that you know this is the kind of show that will run for about three series only. That's because it's the kind of material that can't really be stretched a great deal. I've read that this will be the case and the show will go out on top like Fawlty Towers. However for now I'll be there every Monday night @ 10PM on BBC 2. If you've not had chance to watch any of it then the first season is out on DVD from Monday 14th. Also check out the website @ bbc.co.uk/theoffice. It has a great deal of humour and interactivity.
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He is the scourge of offices and factories up and down the country - the awful boss who cracks terrible jokes, thinks he is god's gift to women and can still be one of the lads. Everybody knows him and he was brought to life on screen by BBC Two's spoof fly-on-the-wall documentary series The Office in the form of exceptionally seedy David Brent - the head of a paper merchants in Slough. Brent thinks he is the office joker who shows strong leadership skills and is both loved and respected by his staff. But in reality he is a bungling bully who is loathed and despised by the majority of his staff. This odious man is the creation of comic Ricky Gervais and the show , which returned to BBC Two Monday night, turned out to be one of last years TV hits. It hardly sounds the formula for a hit comedy but it has been a surprise to all concerned. I think it was one of those where people found out about it by word of mouth. People probably stumbled across the programme and once they realised it was a joke they would tell their mates about it. I was told by a mate and missed the first few episodes unfortunately but I thought it was the best comedy I had seen in years due mainly in part to the true to life nature and also the incisive, original wit. Everybody knows somebody who is like David Brent and people can easily identify with an office environment as well. A thing that signifies the success of the show to me personally was when I recently heard some blokes in the pub all impersonating the David Brent gobbledygook. It is surprising it has become a success because there are no stars and there isn't even a laughter track to tell people it's a comedy but I dont think you should insult people's intelligence. Ricky Gervais also writes and directs the show, I saw him in an interview recently and he is nothing like his onscreen character. He comes across as easy going, thoughtful a
nd charming and clearly very talented. I'm amazed they got to make the show in the first place as all the actors in the show are complete unknowns. I bet when they got commisioned, they couldn't belive their luck. I havn't seen any of the actors except Gervais (who was in The 11 O'Clock Show) in any other show and I havn't seen them trying to cash in on the success of the show either which is unique yet welcoming these days. Other characters include Tim, a nice, intelligent bloke who has a bit of a thing for the receptionist played by Jasper Carrott's daughter Lucy. His attentions towards her in series one were constantly thwarted by her bulky but thick boyfriend. I think more of this relationship will be towards the fore in series two as there's definately chemistry between the two. Gareth is completely out of cink with reality and has an unhealthy interest in all things to do with the Military !! He's the butt of most of the jokes and is generally hated by most especially seen as Brent looks upon him as his prodigy but how many of you out there know one of these oddball types? I think we all do ! Finchy is David Brent's partner who just like Brent thinks he is wanted by every woman he meets and that everyone should laugh at his jokes. The rest of the office despise Finchy as much as Brent but at least he puts Brent in his place which is something they cannot do. Brent idolises him and talks incessantly about their pranks when hes due to visit the office. My favourite moments so far have been the quiz when Finchy and Brent lose when they were cocksure they had won even though they had cheated every way imaginable and the day a trainer comes to the office to improve their people skills - Brent interrupts at every opportunity because the focus isn't on him enough and even renditions the whole group to his songs complete with guitar. Comes complete with the Rod Stew
art v ersio n of Handbags and gladrags as the Soundtrack !! A brilliant new comedy - if you havn't seen The Office yet, I strongly recommend you tune in for the second series which started Monday night ! Regards ============================================ Wormvision2002
The Office was the surprise comedy hit of last year, a spoof documentary set in the Slough offices of a paper merchant called Wernham Hogg, which was so true to life that it was exceptionally difficult for the first episode or so to tell if we were actually seeing a real documentary or not. It was shot in standard documentary mode, with interspersed interviews with the main protagonists mixed in with the set piece general scenarios. There has been another occasional series of programmes featuring Chris Langham from Kiss Me Kate as a reporter visiting businesses, and that was funny enough, but it is The Office, spitefully focused and designed and unerringly hitting its target, which is the real achievement. Written by its star Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, it is an extraordinary achievement and the latest example of a low budget, cult show which unexpectedly takes off in a way which catches all of us by surprise. I was one of the lucky souls who got in at the start, when it was first showing, and quickly got totally mesmerised by this wonderful epic. I was an addict for the rest of the series and couldn't miss any episodes, it was that good. Such genius doesn't come along every day and when it does you have to really treasure it. Gervais is an up and coming talent and is the star of this show, playing the vain and frankly embarrassing David Brent, the manager of the Slough office of the company. Also on the staff are the twin saddoes, Tim and Gavin, who compete for supremacy in the office. They detest each other, and each consider the other to be very much their inferior. Tim is just about tolerable, but the abysmal Gavin sees himself very much as Brent's right hand man, and God's gift on just about everything. In actual fact, he's a completely reprehensible character, prejudiced, dim and conceited, a complete laughing stock in the company. I'll come back to these three individuals a bit later.
The first series can best be captured in the following summaries of the six episodes, and hopefully you get a picture of what goes on in the terrible world of Wernham Hogg. Episode 1 - David Brent learns that his branch of the paper merchants might be closed down. But he promises his staff, that under his regime there will be no redundancies. Episode 2 - Donna arrives on work experience. But her first day at work is dominated by a dirty picture of her boss that's been e-mailed around the office. Episode 3 - It's Tim's birthday. But it's also the annual quiz night. Will Brent and Finchy be able to beat the young pretenders Tim & Ricky? Episode 4 - Rowan, a management consultant, has come to Wernham Hogg to give the staff a special training day. Episode 5 - Even though some of the staff may be made redundant, Brent decides to take on a new secretary. Naturally, he chooses the prettiest woman. Episode 6 - It's judgement day on whether the office is to be downsized. The series ended with Brent getting the good news that Swindon is to be the branch surviving with him in charge, although his rival has been appointed over him as his new boss, much to his dismay, although he is convinced that he actually decided to stay on in the job out of loyalty to his staff. The second series began on September 30, with Brent welcoming the former staff of the Swindon branch to his empire, and embarrassing himself thoroughly in the process with his asinine welcome speech and pathetic impressions. It was as if this bunch had never been away and things look exceptionally promising for the new series. Everyone else seems to think so too, and the BBC website carried the following news the day after the first episode was screened: "BBC Two's The Office swept aside all competition to top Monday night's ratings. Ricky Gervais's critically acclaimed sitcom attracted f
ive million viewers. Gervais, who plays paper company boss Dave Brent, attracted more viewers than either of the other four channels when the show went out at 2200. 'The ratings for The Office are fantastic and we are pleased to have the hottest comedy talent on BBC Two,' the channel's controller, Jane Root, said. The show - which has a documentary flavour to it and no laughter track - averaged 4.8 million viewers - more than triple the number who tuned in for watch its first ever episode last July. The figure will top five million once video recording of the show has been taken into account. That means one in four viewers were tuned in to BBC Two at 2200. The news on BBC One lost out to the sitcom, attracting an audience of 4.3 million. ITV1's News at Ten drew 3.5 million. Five's film, Clint Eastwood blockbuster In the Line of Fire, had 2.5 million viewers, while Channel 4 documentary The Private Lives of Pompeii drew just 1.4 million." Now, that's what you really call a success. As promised, I'll come back now to our chums, the people who populate the office. Tim and Gavin are weak, flawed individuals who each think they're destined for better things, but can both bask in the glory of knowing that there's someone equally pathetic around in each other. What can also gladden their hearts is the fact that there's an even bigger clown around, and that's their beloved(!) leader, David Brent. He considers himself the best boss in the world, a genuine comic talent with a marvellous ability at music. He thinks he's a born entertainer and that he makes life a dream for his little family, who he is convinced adore him totally and absolutely. In reality, they know he's an embarrassing, pathetic dolt, who is childish, self indulgent, conceited and thoroughly obtuse. All great comic inventions have a touch of evil about them. Think of Basil Fawlty, Victor Meldrew, Hancock, and many other
s. They're all flawed individuals who annoy us at best, and repel us at worst. It's almost a prerequisite for such horror to accompany the laughs, and certainly Brent comes with both in spades, he's a total pain. Much of his performances in the first series plumbed the real depths of the human character, but the new series sees him sinking yet lower. He's an absolute EMBARRASSMENT. And we love/hate him for it. If you only ever watch one comedy programme this year, make it this one.
You might think that the television comedy market is already saturated, even with 'mockumertaries' or faked docusoaps. You probably would not have predicted that another one of these would appear, seemingly from nowhere, in autumn last year and blow our minds. But the Office, Ricky Gervaise's new project did just that. The premise doesn't sound promising. We follow the office workers of a paper merchant in Slough, Wernham Hogg, at a time when they are threatened with 'downsizing' and 'restructuring'. But though the situation does provide some of the tension needed to drive the plot the key to the comedy lies in the characters and their daily interactions. BE WARNED! Much of the humour of this show is of the 'I can't believe he did/said that' variety. It can be almost too painful to watch. I spend much of the time laughing even as I cringe down into the seat with embarrassment felt on behalf of the characters. Some people (understandably) find this too much. This tension, though, strengthened by the characters lack of self awareness, is the wellspring of the comedy of the show. THE CHARACTERS: DAVID BRENT The archetypal 'seedy boss'. He is terminally insecure and spends most of his time boosting his ego at the expense of his charges. GARETH KEENAN David's right hand man, 'immediately beneath him'. Gareth calls himself the Assistant Regional Manager. David (and everyone else) see it rather differently. TIM Tim takes a detached cynical view of the office. It is just a job for him and the foibles of David and, in particular, Gareth, drive him deeper into diffidence. DAWN TINDSLEY The receptionist. Spends her time split evenly between reading, controlling David's worse impulses and commiserating with Tim over their ridiculous workplace. She is engaged to Lee who works in the warehouse but still flirts gently with Ti
m. RICKY The temp. A recent graduate, David finds Ricky's knowledge and intelligence, not to mention youth and education, rather threatening. Ricky himself is none too impressed with his temporary job. DONNA The daughter of David's friends. She is lodging with him. David is terribly protective (almost suspiciously so). Donna pays very little attention to him. CHRIS FINCH A sales rep for the company. He is David's closest friend and, although David will not admit it, his role model. Finchy is the one person who puts David down and gets repaid with loyalty rather than abuse. There are plenty of minor characters: the other employees both in the office and the warehouse, and David's boss, ,who comes down to make sure he is doing his job. Most of the time we watch them as they go about their business quite obviously 'pretending' not to notice us. There are also Voxpops to the camera where the main actors explain themselves or give us background. These can lead to some classic moments: 'You know the phrase “softly, softly catchee monkey”? I could catch a monkey!' - Gareth. THE EPISODES: 1: David learns some disturbing news – their branch might be downsized, they are in direct competition with Swindon. Ricky the temp arrives at the office. Gareth and Tim's warfare continues with hilarious results (I won't spoil it for you). ‘We're like Vic and Bob... and one other one.’ – David. 2: Donna joins the team at the office. David warns the boys to keep their hands to themselves. He is rather angry later when he finds that a pornographic picture with his head pasted on has been circulating in the office. He calls on the sevices of his right hand man and Gareth Keenan investigates. ‘A milligram of that poison… and you’d be dead within a day. Or longer. Different frogs, different times
.’ – Gareth. 3: It is Tim’s thirtieth birthday and the night if the Annual Wernham Hogg quiz. When David and Finchy are on the same team it can become fiercely competitive. Pity poor Gareth as he struggles on as the quizmaster. ‘All I will say [about Mr Spock] is what I said at the time: “Look at his ears!”’. – Gareth. 4: David brings in an outsider to run a training day for the team but he is not very good at relinquishing control. Dawn and Lee fight. Tim walks out wanting only to leave the job. David gets out his guitar. ‘You know Monkey Allan down in the warehouse? He fancies you even if no one else does. ‘ – Gareth. 5: The team go out to one of Slough’s two clubs. David is not impressed to find out that Donna and Ricky have got together. Who will manage to pull or be pulled. ‘It was a theme club – Henry the VIII’s. They had a sign in the gents – Mind you Head.’ – Tim. 6: The office finally discover their fate. Will they be downsized? Will David Brent sell them out for purely personal gain? ‘You know how there are seven members of the board…? Oh never mind!’ – David. CONCLUSION: Fantastic, innovative, brilliant. It has all been said before and will be said again. I hear there is another series coming up this very autumn (November they say). That will keep me busy in the long Scottish evenings. If you haven't seen The Office, try it, if you think you can stand it! If you have seen it stop reading this and go and wait for it to be on TV again. Go on! Move! DETAILS: The Old Series can be caught on BBC2 as repeats and more often on PlayUK for those with Satellite/Cable. New Series will appear in November.
I must be one of the many thousands of people or more that just love The Office. When it first came on our screen, it was the by far and still is the best comedy on TV. The first time I watched it I thought it was ?Reality TV? type film where they had camera?s in the office. But, no it was a comedy drama. I have just loved watching it ever since. Stars: Written and Directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Mercant. Ricky plays David Brent the boss of the Office who loves playing jokes on his staff. He?s quite a butch guy with a huge personality. He?s a boss however that you would hate to have because you never know when he?s being serious. He did use to be in the 11?O Clock show on Channel 4 but this show has definitely been the making of him. Ricky is definitely the main star of The Office, great actor and some of the pranks he plays are cruel but hilarious. Other characters include Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) who?s quite dim and is quite a central characters. He?s quite nerdy looking and is always going on about being the army. He?s more the object of pranks than being the prankster himself. Tim, he?s the opposite of Gareth-confident and loves playing a prank on Gareth and Dawn (Lucy Davis) the receptionists. The office won?t be the same without stationary and there?s always a line of two for the stapler (Gareth ?s stapler that is). The Office is an exceptionally good piece of comedy-half an hour of laughter to unwind to. Watching the repeats won?t deter you from watching the Office, the same jokes are quite funny three or four times-a mark of a quality show. Why watch the show? Because the level of acting is excellent. The setting for the show in a normal standard office is the perfect feel for the show. It?s realistic in an Office there?s always one that has the mick taken out, there?s always some flirting going on so it?s quite down to earth which makes it more realistic and plausible. If yo
u haven?t seen the Office then try to catch it on Sky digital on Uk Gold because it?s definitely a comedy you wouldn?t want to miss.
This has to be one of the best comedies for a long time. The Office is a comedy show that has you in stitches. Filmed in documentary style there?s no background audience it follows the goings on in The Office. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Mercant. Ricky used to be in the 11 0?Clock show. He plays the boss Ricky Gervais plays David Brent the boss. But he?s very unconventional. He plays jokes on his staff and tried to be their friend. One of the first episodes that I watched I came in half way through when he was telling someone that they had to leave, the poor girl was in tear. It seemed so plausible and it was all so serious. Only to reveal that he ?joking? after she had cried and cried. It was the best TV. He (Ricky G.) didn?t even move an eyelid-it was so funny. I really like Gareth who is played by Mackenzie Crook, very slim build and pale complexion. He?s been in the territorial army and still things he?s in it. He?s one of them people who has to follow the rules, he?s second in charge so he thinks. There?s a lot of humour at his expense and half the time he hardly realises. Dawn is the receptionist played by Lucy Davis. And is often the object of the Brent?s jokes. And there?s Tim, the more sane one out of them all. He?s always plotting to get at Gareth, hide his stapler something very tedious but very irritating. There isn?t really a fixed story line but it?s just that the documentary style filming means that everything should be serious but thing happen in the Office that aren?t. David Brent is a boss that can?t help but get involved with the rest of the workers. The relationship between them all is really good and that?s what makes it all good. Gareth like Brent, who likes winding the Dawn up, she likes Tim and Tim with the help of her is trying to find something to irritate Gareth. In one episode Brent has to inform the staff that there are some redundancies and that there is good and
bad news. Good news is that he will get a pay rise and bad news is that some will lose their jobs. The way he acts is just terrific-how can he keep a straight face. In The Office you won?t find anything major happenings, everyday lives of the staff are enough. It can literally be any Office in the country, (you just need to have a boss that that). They have just finishing showing the repeats to the first serious on BBC 2. But you can watch the first series on UK Gold on Sky. It is worth watching because it will make you laugh. This is best sit com on TV at the moment and I can?t wait for the new serious!
If you work in an office you or you have done in the past you have definitely met one of these characters. Sarcastic, sharp and totally in touch with the modern day office. I think it was the same guy that created Black Adder who created the office. The comedy isn't as dark as Black Adder but it is twice as funny. I found you really have to listen to what the characters are saying, its the sly sarcastic remarks I find funny. I think this comedy will appeal more towards my generation such as from 16 - 25... those who are going through the training stages, NVQ of whatever and having to face a Manager the same age as you that has kissed his way into the position he has and is a general arse.
If you didn’t catch the Office first time around then take a peak at the reruns on Monday nights at ten p.m. BBC2 .So critically acclaimed was the first series that the overly agitated TV critics who are forever moaning abut repeats have actually put a recommended next to this one second time around. Pretty unheard of for a repeat in this pundit generation. Its star is the only funny turn from the third series of the Eleven O’clock Show in Ricky Gervais of the tubby face and cynical humor. It’s set in your typical small business office with an uncanny realistic feel and portrayal of the sexual and everyday politics that makes the day worth while. Most of you will instantly relish and recognized the characters full of self-importance and the off the cuff remarks that fly in a place like this. The pretty girl in the office getting all the attention. The groveling employee looking for promotion or the little Hitler that does the top mans dirty work. Gervais character though is not running the company with a tight belt and lets his employees walk all over him as long as he’s allowed to play the clown and be one of the lads, and lasses. Although being one of the girl’s means trying to get up their baby tubes every second of the day. The jokes are sharp and the sardonic delivery of Gervais is spot on as he manages to turn an irrelevant everyday situation into a matter of high strategic importance. Like the opening sequence where he s talking to a guy in his office about what seems very relevant to a major contract with big words and pretentious spiele,but its just for the fork lift job and he’s the man to hook up young Darren for the job. No one gets laid off when the order comes from head office for staff cuts and any in house discipline is buying the next round of drinks at the bar for the boss. The staff is a mix of bored graduates waiting for proper employment or people stuck in a rut
and the security of a job with their own parking space and the nine to five familiarity. The real attraction to this show is Gervais brilliant performance as the ambivalent phlegmatic boss and the reality of the everyday situations and nuances that occur in everyday office life. It recently won three awards at the superb British comedy awards and its in line for a few more if the repeats pick up yet more converts. Usually when a new sitcom comes out its like the guy you don’t recognize in Star Trek and he’s wearing that off-green uniform that only means one thing, death as soon as he’s in shot. Well this one doesn’t get a blast of Kirks laser gun or being vaporized by a Romulan battle cruiser as its one in a hundred, a decent new British sitcom. If you are cringing oat how bad the new Big Train is without the last cast. Or you are fed up with Middle Class front room sitcoms on ITV then give this a look second time around and I reckon you will be hooked fairly quickly if you have more than one brain cell. WWF fans need not apply…..
Currently showing on Sky Channel Play UK, Friday nights 9.40. If you work in an office, you will find watching "The Office" very bizarre. It could be a fly on the wall in any office across Britain. The characters are VERY real and very funny. You can spot people from your own work or local pub. The main character in "The Office" (TO)is the office manager. When I first heard people talking about TO and this character, they described him as "awful". I was expecting him to be a nasty character but he isn't, what is "awful" is what he says. He tries SO hard to be politically correct and cool, that it acts in reverse and he says the wrong thing. I have never cringed so much, I even have to turn over as I am that embarrased. He is a great character. A great scene is when he takes over a Team Building Exercise, the training guy nearly has a nervous breakdown. Other funny character is an ex-TA (Territorial Army) guy. A great scene with this guy is when the office manager opens his heart to him and tells him that he had to visit his elderly father the night before because he was convinced that there was a sniper on the co-op roof. The ex-TA guy (or "death" as I call him- watch it and you'll know why) then gives a break down of why the co-op roof is a perfect position, very sympathetic. Then there is the character I most identify with, the graduate who is pushed about, but is probably the most intelligent person there. He, along with other background character, act as a grounding for the stranger character so that the programme doesn't become too comical and unreal (Operation Good Guys). You'll love this if you enjoy comedies such as The Royal Family or Operation Good Guys. It is very good observational humour. It grasps the office politics, the office flirting and the office struggles. Give it a go, you'll love it. Remember.... Play UK, Friday nights 9.40 Please leave
a comment to let me know what you think.