The Office has a new Special Edition DVD out now, in time for the holidays! No, it’s not the American sitcom starring Steve Carell, but rather, the original UK version, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant — who still collaborate today — it’s dry British humor, but every bit as funny as the American counterpart. Considering this is an article written in America, and will mostly be read by Americans, parallels between the two series will be drawn throughout.
Ricky Gervais (The Ricky Gervais Show, Extras) plays David Brent, a completely horrible boss for a small branch of a large paper company. More concerned with being liked than getting the job done, and hopelessly inept at both, Brent bumbles along for twelve episodes and a two-part Christmas special, getting fired along the way — a highly realistic development. Gervais is excellent in the role, which put him on the map. David Brent, who has cameoed twice in the American remake, is way worse than Michael Scott ever considers being. He is eager, but not generally a good person. He gets what he deserves in the end.
Of course, Gervais does not carry the series alone. His assistant to the regional manager is Gareth (Mackenzie Crook, Pirates of the Caribbean), much more well rounded than Dwight, Gareth makes a much better boss when the time comes. Tim (Martin Freeman, Sherlock, Love Actually) and Dawn (Lucy Davis, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip) are the Jim and Pam, ‘will-they, won’t-they?’ couple. Spoiler: they will… eventually.
There are also other employees, most notably Keith (Ewen MacIntosh), who is a sort of Kevin. But aside from the main foursome, the others are not as fleshed out as the supporting players that Americans are used to. This is all right, however, because of the short run of the original The Office. With only two six-episode series and the Christmas special, there is no time to give anyone else any depth. Which doesn’t detract from the enjoyment at all.
Now, many already know the story of The Office, as these episodes have been released before. The great thing about this tenth anniversary special edition, available only on DVD, not Blu-ray, is the many, many extras included. The bonus features from earlier editions are present, plus much more. Deleted scenes, video diaries, outtakes, director’s commentary, and a music video are just some of the repackaged content, already released.
The best of the new items is a twenty minute rough pilot made three years before the series. It proves that Gervais put a lot of thought into David Brent, and perfected the part long before he played him on a weekly basis, though the other characters are played by different actors. This pilot was filmed in 1998, not to be mistaken with the 2000 version, of which only clips are included, not the entire thing. The 2001 version is the one packaged as part of the series.
Two forty-minute extras are also a highlight. The first includes five web videos, providing interviews with many of the people involved, including Gervais and Merchant. The second is “Comedy Connections,” a single special that delves into the making of the series, with a focus on the original batch of six episodes, and pack with clips.
The one complaint buyers may justifiably have is the introductions to each of the first series episodes. They run around five minutes a piece, and there is no way to begin the episodes without them. They are informative, but also spoilery, for those who haven’t seen The Office yet. They contain great guest cameos by Ben Stiller, Hugh Jackman, Matthew Perry, and others not involved in the series. For most, a simple hit of the ‘skip chapter’ button on the remote will fix this, but it is a shame that one must do so, rather than selecting a ‘Play Without Intro’ from the menu, as many similar series have done. Even worse, there are interviews within the ending credits, too, ruining the flow into the tag.
In short, because of the preceding paragraph, The Office: Special Edition – 10th Anniversary Edition is for the fans. Those who haven’t seen The Office yet should seek an earlier version to enjoy the episodes as they are meant to be seen. Also, collector’s should not throw away their old sets, lest they try introducing new fans to the show. However, for people already in love with The Office, this is an excellent set, and a worthy edition to your Office collection.