For fans of the original iteration of The Office, which turned Ricky Gervais into a star and gave the BBC its first major modern breakout hit, the character of David Brent is up there with Homer Simpson or, in contrast, Tony Soprano. The series ran for an abbreviated three seasons with a few specials, but was influential enough to spawn NBC’s version of The Office, which, in turn, ended up creating a model that was eventually followed by the likes of Modern Family and Parks & Recreation. It was, and remains, one of the most important one-camera comedy series to ever be created for a television audience, on this side of the pond or the other.
As created by Gervais and the great Stephen Merchant, the original Office was also one of the founding works of the awkward humor boom, powered by big laughs based largely on tinny self-seriousness, humiliation, and social anxiety. Plenty of shows have followed Gervais and Merchant’s lead and have come up with little more than a shallow, mean-spirited cornucopia of people’s intimate idiosyncrasies, fears, and pain. So, it’s good to know that the master is back with David Brent: Life on the Road, a mockumentary continuation of Brent’s story which is directed and written by Gervais. Brent’s latest adventure will be centered on him reuniting for a tour with his old band, Foregone Conclusion, for one last ride. The film is already set to hit theaters in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, but today brought news that the film will be released stateside via Netflix, which is beginning to really build an enviable line-up of original films as a distributor.
Gervais took to Twitter and the infamous Opie and Anthony radio show to announce the North American rights sale to the streaming giant. “I’d rather 20 million people see it rather than half a million in the cinemas,” is how Gervais explained his perspective on the sale, and went onto say that he hopes to do a comedy tour off the back end of the film’s release. It’s a smart move for him as well as for Netflix, who could attract the still-passionate contingency of Gervais and The Office fans without relying on wondering where exactly in America this kind of work plays the best…outside of New York City and Los Angeles, of course.
Here’s video of Gervais’ announcement on Opie and Anthony: