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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Visually Impaired
  Extras
  • 1 Audio commentary - with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
  • 1 Featurette - 'The Office: Closed for Business'
  • 2 Music video - David Brent's 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' and 'Freelove Freeway'
  • 1 Awards/Nominations - Featurette on Golden Globe Awards
The Office - The Christmas Specials
BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 186 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Ricky Gervais’s The Office took Britain, and subsequently the world, by storm. Shot in a documentary style, the pathetic daily struggles of the Regional Manager of paper merchants Wernham Hogg, David Brent managed to hit the ‘cringe’ button inside everybody in the world who had ever worked in an office.

Both seasons were a massive hit for the BBC, and while Co-creator, co-writer, co-producer and star Gervais happily left the series after the second year, fans demanded to know what happened to their beloved characters after the events of the second-and-final series.

Since Dawn had rejected his second advance and moved to Florida, would Tim ever be happy? How would Gareth survive in the office without David? What was David going to do without his beloved job? The people demanded answers, and so Gervais and partner-in-crime Stephen Merchant re-teamed to create two 90-minute Christmas specials. Picking up six months after the ‘documentary’ finished filming within the walls of Wernham Hogg, this is a fitting climax to the funniest television show I have ever seen.

A big call, sure, and while Seinfeld, Friends and The Simpsons are all important and highly successful comedies (amongst a half-dozen others) for me, I have never laughed as hard or as often as this show manages to incite. It’s hugely subjective, however, and reliant on your own personal experiences in a similar office. Without this ‘it’s funny because it’s so unbelievably true’ mentality, you are left only with unsympathetic characters and motionless plots.

If you have worked in an environment such as this, though, The Office is as insightful, and gut-bustingly funny as it gets.

These specials are essential viewing for those who have enjoyed the previous DVDs, as they spend most of their time furthering the characters to a point where they can rest happily (or, in Gareth’s case, maniacally) in the post-narrative ether. The climax is as touching as any television series’ finale, and the close of the episode is movingly perfect.

If you haven’t met David Brent or seen any of The Office, grab a copy of Series 1 and 2 as soon as you can, confident in the fact that when you’re done, these specials are finally awaiting you on DVD. If you have seen them, chances are this is already a part of your collection.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

There is nothing wrong with this transfer, which is up to BBC’s usual standards. What is horribly disappointing though, is the quality of the original footage. Filmed on digital video cameras to emulate documentary footage, this succeeds in looking rough and unplanned. But in this age of television where documentaries and reality television all feature cinematic visuals, the washed out, grainy picture quality is disappointing. Sure, it looks bleak, colourless and over-lit, just like any fluorescent-light-globe-heavy office space, but this could have been achieved without the result looking like a VHS transfer.

A two-channel stereo mix is what you get here, but in a dialogue-heavy show without a score, laugh track or any particular action, it’s plenty.

The Office: Closed For Business (22.36)
Featuring interviews with all cast members, a well as significant input from Merchant and Gervais, this is a neat package on the experience of creating the specials. From the reasons for coming back, to the reasons why it won’t happen again, we get a thorough account of the fun to be had on set. Many bloopers are included, mostly of Gervais making other performers lose it, as are (a few too many) clips from the show.

Golden Globe Featurette (5.47)
When ‘The Office’ was nominated for two Golden Globe awards, everybody, including the BBC, was caught completely by surprise. Meetings were held with the cast and crew to practice their ‘losing faces’. The show went on to win both awards for which it was nominated, and this short featurette hilariously documents the experience.

‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ Full video (3.36)
The complete music video of Brent’s brilliantly terrible cover. Soft focus, eyeliner, white doves… It’s all here!

Audio Commentary: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
This is the second funniest (after ‘This is Spinal Tap’) commentary I have heard on a DVD. Gervais is always ‘on’, and Merchant raps so well with him, that it’s a shame he never made more than a cameo appearance in the show.

Full Band Version of ‘Freelove Freeway’
A short documentary on the studio recording of one of David Brent’s ‘hits’.

If you’re already a fan, then this is a no-arguments purchase. It must be yours. If you’ve never met David Brent, give it a shot; It might just be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen.


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  •   And I quote...
    "The best office Christmas party you’ll be invited to this year!"
    - Tristan Lutze
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sharp SX68JF100 (F2 Full Flat)
    • Amplifier:
          Sony Mini Hifi
    • Speakers:
          Sony
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony
    • Surrounds:
          Sony
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony Active Superwoofer
    • Lifestyle System:
          Sony HT-K215
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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