Not since Seinfeld have I seen a sitcom as smart and hilarious – I can already see myself rewatching and quoting these episodes for years. Writer-director Ricky Gervais also stars as the instantly classic character David Brent, not only a spectacularly incompetent boss but also one of the most clueless would-be comedians you’ll ever see. The guy feels he always has to joke around, he just can’t do his job and be the boss, he has to try desperately to be buddy-buddy with his staff, to show that he’s still “mad”. He’s the perfect example of a guy whose sense of humor is so unfunny that it makes you laugh anyway.
Also priceless are Martin Freeman’s Tim, increasingly incredulous at what a dumbass his boss is, and Mackenzie Crook’s Gareth, a “Territorial Army” soldier with a serious lack of social skills who takes himself way too seriously. The uneasy interaction between these two deskmates is priceless, with Gareth being increasingly annoying and Tim coping by mocking and playing pranks on him with the help of Lucy Davis’ Dawn, the receptionist he not-so-secretly fancies.
Season 1 is bloody awesome, but Season 2 is even better. We know and love these characters by then, and the cast feels more comfortable than ever playing them, so it’s all gravy. Around spectacularly incompetent manager David, freaky-geeky Gareth, smart-ass Tim and every-bloke-‘s-woken-up-at-the-crack-of Dawn, we now get new employees from the Swindon branch of the Wernham Hogg paper company merging with the Slough staff, including a lady in a wheelchair and a black guy. You can only guess what kind of awkward and offensive moments this will lead to!
A few favorite moments:
When we learn that David used to be a singer-songwriter, which he proves by performing a series of ridiculous (but catchy!) folksy-progressive ditties. “Free love on the free love freeway…”
Gareth’s investigation of who did the fake porno picture of David.
David trying to convince his bosses that his “black man’s cock” joke wasn’t racist.
Every appearance by sales rep Finchy, who’s even more of a witless asshole than David.
David’s train wreck of a motivational speech, embarrassingly ending with Tina Turner’s Simply the Best.
Gareth’s shockingly clueless attempts to seduce women.
David’s Flashdance / MC Hammer dance fusion (!).
I laughed and laughed and laughed all through this BBC series. It’s a bitch it’s so short (2 seasons of 6 episodes), but at least Gervais and co-creator Stephen Merchant can say that they had a perfect run.