Who’s the funniest character in TV history? Homer Simpson? George Costanza? I’m thinking David Brent. Ricky Gervais’s performance as the dumbest, most incompetent boss in the two series of The Office is already the stuff of legend and, in this feature-length special, we get to see him set loose into the world!
Most hilariously, we learn that Brent used the exit money he got from Wernham Hogg to produce and release a single, his cover of If You Don’t Know Me By Now! The DVD is a must-buy just for the music video, in which David, all dressed in white, pours his heart out while arguing with a girlfriend. Unfortunately, the record wasn’t a hit. “It didn’t even make the Top 100.” “Didn’t want it too. Next!”
David’s now a travelling salesman, going to other offices to sell them cleaning furniture… Though he apparently still spends most of his time at Wernham Hogg, popping in every other day to throw around a few jokes with his old staff. The man needs an audience, even if they are clearly indifferent – at least they can’t walk out, they’re stuck at work. So we get to see that Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) is still an insensitive control-freak with military delusions and that Tim (Martin Freeman) still loves to make fun of him. And he still cares for Dawn (Lucy Davis), even though she’s now living in Florida.
The crux of the special is the office Xmas party, which David is attending even if he’s not with the company anymore. When asked if he’s bringing a date, he lies about it, which brings up another thing: as ridiculous as the guy can be, he’s also full of pathos. He’s obviously lonely, that’s why he’s constantly craving attention, trying to win people over as an everyday entertainer. It’s kinda sad, but it’s still funny as hell, like when he makes public appearances in clubs or when Gareth has him enrolling in a dating agency. The party also brings back Dawn, which leads to a surprisingly touching payoff to her thing with Tim.
“The Office Special” is an endlessly enjoyable watch. On top of the feature (which was originally a two-part BBC special), you get a behind-the-scenes documentary, a featurette about the Golden Globes, Director’s Commentary and the aforementioned If You Don’t Know Me By Now music video. It doesn’t get much better than this!