It seems like when influential TV shows are discussed, anything past the 1980’s is left off the list. Things peter out around All in the Family and come to a stop right around Seinfeld. That’s nearly two decades worth of shows left out of the conversation. One of these shows recently released a 10th anniversary edition. The Office may only have two short English seasons and a 2-part Christmas special under it’s belt, but its influence has been felt in modern television for a decade. Our review is after the jump.
The Office centers around an odious boss and the cube farm he rules. David Brent (Ricky Gervais) describes himself as “A friend first, and a boss second, probably an entertainer third”, though any of him employees hearing that statement would roll their eyes along with the audience. He inflicts his awful brand of management on a crappy paper company in a crappy town in England. A documentary crew follows him around and a lot of the tropes of documentaries are used to comedic effect here.
The most obvious offspring is the American version of the show, which hews very closely to the British version in its pilot. But the American version has grown strong and influential in its own right. Fans of the American version won’t find the strong ensemble and workplace comedy. This Office centers around Brent and the terrible things he does to make himself looks better for the cameras. The other major ongoing plot revolves around the budding romance between sweet secretary Dawn (Lucy Davis) and Tim (Martin Freeman). Gareth (Macenzie Crook) rounds out the familiar characters as Brent’s lackey.
Fans of the American version will find some similar beats in the early goings, but the differences quickly make themselves apparent. Michael Scott has some redeeming qualities and a strange naivete that makes him endearing to watch. Brent has no such qualities, but his bad behavior is the glue that holds the series together. Gervais holds little back when making Brent unlikable but the nervous laughs at his co-workers reactions and his outrageous antics are well-earned.
The series ended after two 6-episode seasons but the principals were brought back for a Christmas special. They use the documentary form again to their advantage and take a look at the characters after the original documentary was “released”. Though the series itself trades heavily in dark humor, the specials offer a bit of a happy ending for most of the characters.
This set contains all the extras from the 2004 Complete Collection, plus a few new extras to tempt those fans who have the previous editions of the show. These include introductions to episodes by Gervais and the cast as well as interviews with celebrity fans of the show. The original pilot is also included. Pilots are always fun to watch to see the first elements of a show come together. For those getting in on the ground floor, this set includes the usual collection of documentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes and more.
The Office changed comedy when it hit the airwaves. Shows ranging from Modern Family to Arrested Development owe some measure of their success to The Office. If you’ve never visited Slough or haven’t been a while, this set is an excellent choice to see where it all began.