'The Office - Special Edition'
(Ricky Gervais, Mackenzie Crook, Martin Freeman, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2011 / BBC Home Video)
Overview: In celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the BBC premiere of the original Ricky Gervais comedy sensation, The Office, BBC releases The Office Collection Special Edition featuring the complete, original UK series plus an assortment of new bonus features.
DVD Verdict: The Office (primarily the UK verson) is like watching those horrendous wedding speeches. All at the same time you cringe, tune out, mentally attempt to speed it up, laugh at the speaker's ineptitude, watch the reaction of others, celebrate when the content is relevant and entertaining, and generally marvel at how we humans can miscommunicate and be unaware of our behavior and how we present ourselves. Anyone who has worked in an office can relate to bizarre co-workers, incapable leaders, office politics, relationships that cross any acceptable boundaries, in fact, it is amazing that any work at gets done in the workplace which is so ably demonstrated in this series.
And that is what Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have extraordinarily captured in a very original format. It borders on voyeurism as we follow the excruciatingly painful missteps of a hapless boss and his unambitious team as they are followed in a quasi-documentary format. But where the brilliance lies is in the exploratory of topics and situations that regular sitcoms never remotely touch. I still cringe at many scenes too numerous to mention which make it relatable, believable, and at the end of the day, real.
The ensemble cast must get huge credit given what Gervais brings to the role. It is an incredible portrayal and catalogue of what must be every excruciating interaction he ever had with a bad boss. The writing is terrific and so is the amazing ad lib. Having watched the whole thing five times in six years (damn you Gervais - my time is precious), I am continually surprised how much the U.S. version continues to mine the brief U.K. version for story-lines and one-liners.
Basically, Ricky Gervais's Brent is a train wreck you can't take your eyes from!! Fans of the US version might miss the humanizing sadness of Steve Carrell's Michael Scott, and the initial, prolonged heartbreak of the Jim/Pam relationship, but there are other, more wince-inducing pleasures to be had with the original.
Abd so now with 'The Office – 10th Anniversary Special Edition,' newcomers can experience the hypocrisy, pettiness, and egotism of David Brent. Longtime fans can re-experience his ineptitude, as well as experience new-to-DVD special features. With two short seasons – six half-hour episodes each – and a pair of 45-minute specials that conclude the series, the original UK show never (to my mind, at least) wore out its welcome. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.