Many may be lucky enough not to have had to endure the profoundly unique experience that is working in an office during their lives. I, however, have not been one to have come into such great fortune...
The boss who thinks they're the pinnacle of comedy, that they're down with the common people, that they're as cool as f*ck and your bestest-ever mate? Yep, been there.
The neat-freak co-worker so anally retentive that a fart has to get permission in quintuplicate before daring to squeeze through those hallowed cheeks – the type who has their name applied deftly on their stapler with correction fluid – the sort of person who COUNTS their staples for heaven’s sake – they whose desk is their domain and theirs alone, and woe betide any poor sod who dares breach its parapets? Yep, definitely been there.
Those nauseating inter-office relationships – the ones where the two protagonists canoodle freely yet are so cocksure that they’re keeping their liaison 100 percent secret - despite the fact that the resident IT person has broadcast their diced carrot-inducing emails to every other staff member - making all those around them find new ways to regurgitate food they haven’t ingested since about birth? Oh yes, been there.
The boy's club mentality and general air of sexism that pervades most everything? It's generally been more obvious than the conk on Dumbo's face.
The threat of retrenchment – and bullshit excuses as justification for as much - whilst useless fat cat banana-brained bosses remain safely ensconced pulling down more figures per month than I’ll earn in three lifetimes? Been there, done that, bought the postcard, sent it from jobless-selling-my-life-off-to-pay-the-rent purgatory.
The resulting bullshit interviews following said retrenchment – should you get one as cloth-eyed “human resources managers” (like, what do they actually do?) usually look for one buzzword in your CV, generally “dynamic” or “facilitate” it seems - yet where in the end the most important thing is how you look in a Polaroid, how long your legs are (at least I score there) the size of your chest and colour of hair rather than your actual work-suitable abilities? Lived it. Many a time.
Those interminable “ra ra ra!” supposedly inspirational seminars when you actually land another job, the only vague shred of muse-like wisdom which they manage to conjure is the discovery of your ability to down 14 Monte Carlo bickies in a two-hour period? Hey honey, I wrote the handbook.
The big-noting, loser-dork sleaze-ball sales reps who suffer from the un-shaking belief that they are god’s gift to womankind? Yep, know them, didn’t f*ck them (this excludes the sweet one who brought me cookies once – oh goodness no, I didn’t – umm, but he was just a sweetie, OK?)
...and those god-awful, ear-bleed inducing, insanity-producing, dork-exposing ridiculous mobile phone ring tones, whereby somebody thinks that having Take On Me by A-Ha (or whoever has covered it this week) bleeping out at the top of their poor little Nokia’s lungs somehow makes them the height of hip’n’trendiness? I’ve lived it, and a newsflash to those going “yeah, so what’s wrong with that?” types – you’re big f*cking losers!!!
Ahem. But enough about my life experiences – and on to the DVD release of the BBC series The Office. Basically, it’s all about – oh shit, umm, erm, heh – well, I kind of blew the synopsis in my introductory monologue (oh alright, un-disguised rant). For this is essentially a summation of all you’ll find in this six-part series, which pretty much goes with the This is Spinal Tap/Waiting For Guffman/Best in Show-styled “mockumentary” vibe, runs towards the goals, deftly baulks a few oncoming opposition defenders, shoots and well and truly scores.
The situations will be familiar to many, only the environment has been changed to protect anybody who either doesn’t work in, or hasn’t been under the employ of, a paper merchant. The boss? David Brent (co-writer and co-director Ricky Gervais). What more can be said? The anally retentive dork? Gareth (the human embodiment of The Muppet Show’s Beaker, Mackenzie Crook) – as above, but with the added AGH!-factor of being ex-army (well, territorial army at any rate) and the type of toadying, climb the ladder at any cost even if there isn’t one, tongue-up-boss’ rectum 2IC being from hell that I am confident many reading this will know more then well. You know them, the sort who are actually convinced that they wield some sort of authority, whereas in reality you'd have more hopes of a show of power by popping a couple of AA batteries in the jacksie of a jumbo jet and trying to get the thing in the air. That relationship? Well, with slight tweaks it’s Tim (Martin Freeman) and receptionist Dawn (Jasper Carrott’s daughter Lucy Davis – and why, by the way, are all receptionists named Dawn?) – the only slight issue being her betrothment to a certain other... Now, add the usual array of “interesting” types you’ll find in any office, and, well, this is basically as scarily realistic as it gets.
And this is what makes The Office such “fun” for those who have been in the trenches. It will meander along in it’s “been there” way for a while, then drop a pearler of a gag – this reviewer thinks of the two lesbians or super-chicken - which will have you guffawing until long after the episode ends – not to mention adding ideas to that little revenge file residing in a certain part of your brain. Hmm, a stapler wobblily ensconced in a mould of jelly – yeah, nice one!
Basically you’re not always sure whether to cringe of laugh, and this is testament to the job both Gervais and his partner in both writing and directorial crime Stephen Merchant have accomplished with The Office - along with the great, basically unknown (at least on these shores) cast, who lend an often scary air of abject realism to all that goes on.
If you’re savvy enough to pick this up and give it a spin, and happen to end up thinking something along the lines of, “oh yeah, right – like no office could ever be like this” then think again, ooh yes indeed. After all dear reader, I have lived it many a time, and there’s a line finer than one on a sheet of A4 ruled lecture pad paper between “mockumentary” and “documentary”. The Office straddles it brilliantly.
|"You work half a century, you get a golden handshake, you rest a couple of years and you’re dead..."|