The Office Special

The Office Special
North Americans who've fallen for British faux-documentary The Office finally get to enjoy the conclusion of the award-winning series in two forms: as a single disc DVD and packaged with the first two seasons (of six episodes each) in convenient collectible form. For those out of the loop: The Office was a fake doc featuring the world's most annoying boss, David Brent (Ricky Gervais), convinced of his own hilarity and popularity, ruling over a paper goods office in the seemingly dreary English town of Slough. (Even the name makes it sound horrid.) He would torture his co-workers with his blithely stupid jokes, dancing and incompetence, supported only by toadying underling Gareth (Mackenzie Crook). Meanwhile, one of the only sane office members, Tim (Martin Freeman, soon to be seen as Arthur in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy feature), has long carried a torch for pretty receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis) but the crush goes unrequited. As The Special opens, David Brent is "enjoying" what little fame the BBC2's airing of the original "documentary" has brought him, doing embarrassing appearances in nightclubs and coming back to annoy his former co-workers, where Gareth has his job and Tim remains at his desk; meanwhile Dawn has moved to Florida with her fiancé. The two-part Special broadens the world of Brent while demonstrating that the more things change for Tim, the more they stay the same, with the exception of Dawn's absence. She returns for a final Christmas party (a reunion cleverly set up by the "documentary" crew who want to manipulate this reunion), and the whole thing wraps in a surprisingly satisfactory and not too treacly way. The final "Office Closing" documentary is similar to the previous discs' — lots of co-writer and co-creator Gervais cracking up his cast — and updates the life changes enjoyed by this once-unknown cast since the show became an international smash success. Their unlikely two-win sweep of the Golden Globes gets another featurette (two of 23 awards the show has won, Gervais gleefully points out), while Gervais and his partner-in-comedy Stephen Merchant chatter and giggle through a commentary on The Special's second half. That there's a full-length video featuring David Brent would reveal too much of The Special's more delightful twists, but rest assured it's as hilarious as every other second of this has been. Genius as only the English can accomplish. As Gervais quips to an American audience in accepting his Golden Globe: "You remember the English. We used to rule the world before you." In hidden pockets of television, they still do. (BBC/Warner)