Being initially aired before I was old enough to be interested in The Office, I bought this set with high hopes and a fresh perspective. I won't elaborate on the quality of the series itself, but safe to say that it is good comedy. The first episode is shaky, not as funny as I was expecting at all, but from the second episode onwards the series really hits its stride and provides some proper laugh-out-loud moments, and there's no shortage of cringeworthy "must hide face in hands" moments courtesy of Ricky Gervais as David Brent. I don't think it lives up to the hype, though. There are other shows which are funnier and more interesting plot-wise, I think (Gervais and Merchants' "Extras" being one of these, in my opinion). It's definitely worth a watch though, and I'll watch it again without a doubt.
What really lets this set down, though, is the obligatory watching of the special features during the first series. When I watch something for the first time, I want to just watch it, unspoiled and not be bogged down by a bunch of (often random) talking heads extolling the virtues of a programme I haven't seen yet. I was disappointed, then, on pressing play to find out that this is exactly what happens - the first five minutes of each episode go through an analysis of some aspect or other of the show's greatness by people in the show, and randomers who, as far as I'm aware, have nothing to do with it (Hugh Jackman being one of these). There is absolutely no need for this at all - special features should not be forced on the viewer, that is what the second disc is for, and in my opinion all this added to the series was the impression that Gervais blatantly agrees with all the hype associated with it. It really soured the first viewing from what would have otherwise been a pleasant experience. Additionally, it means that in order to go and watch those features in future (should I even want to), I'd have to go to each episode and watch only the first five minutes. Not a huge task, but irritatingly unnecessary. This only happens with the first series - the second series and the Christmas specials both play as they should, with special features left exactly where they should be. However, it's definitely a weak point in an otherwise good box set. Buy with the confidence that you're getting the series in its entirety, and if you love The Office then you'll love this set. However if you're like me and just a casual or new fan, be prepared to do a bit of scene skipping to get to the goods that you paid for!