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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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It's a dark "Dilbert," a realistic "Office Space." Hit Brit-comedy "The Office" takes mockumentaries to the small screen, featuring the hilariously unfunny David Brent, and his unhappy employees. This three-pack includes both seasons, plus the satisfying holiday special, which also serves as the grand finale.

The first season opens with David Brent (Ricky Gervais) learning that either his branch or another branch of paper corporation Wenham-Hogg will shortly be downsized. So this wannabe-comedian sets out to prove that his branch is better, stumbling as he tries. Trailing in his wake is bored everyman Tim (Martin Freeman), dead-looking yes-man Gareth (MacKenzie Crook), and pretty, quietly cynical receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis).

The second season, while more unsteady than the first, takes some new and darker steps. Now David's rival Neil (Patrick Baladi) is his boss, and David has a slew of new employees who are less than thrilled about his racist jokes, chicken suits, and the lack of any actual work going on. Dawn becomes jealous when Tim gets a girlfriend, and Gareth searches for any way to bed Tim's girlfreind. And after a catastrophic managerial meeting, David learns that the next downsizing just might be him...

After the dismal ending of the second season, the feature-length "Office Special" provides a satisfying wrap up. Three years later, everyone from Wenham-Hogg -- including those who no longer work there -- is being called back for a special reunion. Tim is given one last chance to win Dawn's affections, and David finally learns the truth about himself. (Anyone disappointed by the end of the second season had better check out the new endings)

Don't expect a typical sitcom in "The Office." No laughtracks. No punch lines. No gag humor... well, not much. And no episode has a clear-cut ending. Instead, we have the format seen in "This is Spinal Tap" and the Christopher Guest mockumentaries -- hidden cameras watching the madness. And what those cameras see is enough to make the world's cubicle-dwellers cry. Okay, most offices don't have giant inflatable genitalia, or a comedy-for-charity day, but the core of it is frighteningly close to home.

The series gets off to a slightly bumpy start -- at first, the jokes are a bit too thinly-spread. But soon "The Office" gets its footing and the humor steadies itself ("Tim's put my stapler inside a jelly again. That's the third time he's done it!" Gareth complains, displaying the stapler in a Jell-O mold). And a lot of the humor is a subversive, subtle kind -- it creeps into your mind, and by episode two you'll be laughing your head off at David's bad jokes, his spastic chimp dance, and his prejudices hidden behind a veil of political correctness.

Ricky Gervais is brilliant. David is every bit as annoying and obnoxious as the immortal Basil Fawlty, but hides it under a genial mask and stupid jokes. Mackenzie Crook is wonderful as the obsequious boot-licker with a bit of a sex fixation; his Dirty Bertie toy is one of the most tasteless, horribly funny scenes on TV. Tim, like Dilbert, is a lovable loser who can't get himself out of his soul-sucking job. And Dawn is mired in a relationship with an obnoxious cheapskate, yet it takes her the whole series to finally do something about it.

Clearly destined for cult status, this is "The Office" as it was meant to be, with a darkly funny storyline culminating in a satisfying finale. Funny, strange and immensely entertaining.
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on January 27, 2014
I love this series. It makes me squirm to watch it at times, but Ricky Gervais tapped into a voyeuristic - almost schadenfreude - type of medium to tell a story that is hard to define. A comedy? Yes, but only broadly so. It has humanity at its core, but not the clean and reverential humanity that we tend to see idealized on TV. Rather it is flawed and sorry, and told in such a way that you squirm and laugh at the same time. I don't think that I would have liked it as much without the Christmas Special to close it out and allow some redemptive closure to David Brent, inferred though it might be.

As a total, the two six-episode series and the two-part Christmas Special are in my opinion some of the best TV I've ever seen.
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on April 11, 2005
A few years ago, I remember seeing this British guy (Ricky Gervais) winning a Golden Globe and I wondered "Who the heck is he?" Well now after having watched The Office, I understand why he won for best comedy series. The Office is an excellent example of dry, politically incorrect British humour. At times I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt and at others, I was so uncomfortable that I wanted to hide because of David Brent's complete lack of social skills. The Office is shot like a documentary. Who knew that filming the deathly mundane lives of office workers in a paper company could be so comedic? It is sheer genius and I highly recommend it.
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on March 4, 2007
The British have a long history of producing classic TV comedy series but "The Office" takes it to a new level. The premise is simple, the comedy understated and the characters are completely believable. There is no laugh track, no slap stick and no cliches. Most importantly, The Office has a beginning and an end unlike most series which just go on year after year until the ratings drop below commercially viable levels. The best comedy I have seen bar none and the only program I watch again and again. Not to be confused with the American version which is occasionally amusing but just not on the same level.
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on May 29, 2005
The Office is one of the most well crafted series I've ever seen. No episode lacks a purpose, especially when viewed in the overall story arc of the series and no episode lacks a laugh, an awkward joke, a scene you will remember or a moment where you can feel for a character, at least for me.
Even though from that it might not sound funny, it really is, but when it comes down to it is about much more than laughter. This is a series about peoples' lives, their pains, their loves, their dreams, their jobs, or in short, life.
Life in an Office. See it.
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on November 16, 2005
Do yourself a favour and buy this! You heard me...BUY IT! Dont rent it or borrow it! This is comedy at its best...I was also first introduced to Ricky Gervais through an awards show and wondered why he got this award and why were people so interested in him? And why is he making me laugh while accepting this award? Well folks, THE OFFICE is the answer. The typical mundane goings-on of an office are captured in a documentary of sorts...and the mundane are hilarious!
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on July 18, 2007
I have watched this series several times and it never fails to make me belly laugh. This is not a dvd that will be shelved and forgotton, it will stand the test of time because the writing is so clever, the cast is outstanding and the subject matter is so easy to relate to. I really think this is the greatest show of all time and the only negative I have is that the series was short lived but perhaps that's a good thing considering some shows exceed their expiry date.
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on December 22, 2012
This show will probably be remembered as one of the funniest shows to ever be on TV. Martin Freeman and Ricky Gervais are both fantastic as Tim and David respectively, and it's interesting to see what jumpstarted the careers of Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit), Ricky Gervais (Extras, The Ricky Gervais Show), and Stephen Merchant (Extras, Portal 2). This collection has quite a few special features, and is a good value for it's money.
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on March 26, 2011
...seriously painful. For anyone who even has the slightest tendency to emulate TV personalities, STAY AWAY FROM THIS SHOW! These characters have little to no redeeming qualities; total prats, the whole lot of 'em. It's funny on TV, but not fully in real life. And that gap is bridged on far too many occasions through this 2 season series. Lord help me if I ever see someone break out a guitar during a meeting at my office...
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on December 11, 2005
Anyone with a remotely British (or worthy of! hehe) sense of humour should appreciate this. Set as a documentary, scenes of hilarity impossible in a conventional comedy series place this in a league all by itself. If you haven't seen the episodes before, this collection is definetely worth it: reviewings will occur in abundance!
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