The two-part conclusion to The Office
bids farewell to David Brent and his long-suffering co-workers in a surprisingly poignant not to say dignified manner. Supposedly accompanied by the fly-on-the-wall documentary crew three years after his highly undignified exit from Slough-based paper merchants Wernham Hogg, the first part reveals Brent as a travelling salesman by day and D-list "celebrity" by night, enduring humiliating club appearances organised by his clueless manager. But Brent can't keep away from his old stamping-ground in Slough, especially with the imminent prospect of the annual Christmas party. As much to spite suave rival Neil as anything else, Brent is on an agonisingly painful hunt for a date to bring along.
Back at Wernham Hogg, lovelorn Tim has to endure not only the officious behaviour of Gareth, now his manager, but also a cheerless existence bereft of Dawn, who is living in Florida with boorish fiancé Lee. Matters are brought to a head for all concerned--including Lee and Dawn, flown over specially for the occasion--when they finally gather in the office for the party.
As ever the script is full of priceless one-liners (witness big Keith's chat-up spiel, as he promises "at least one orgasm" to any woman), and the show is peppered with those direct appeals to camera (Tim's weary "I don't believe he just said that" look, Brent's desperate self-justificatory "Eh?"), as well as achingly effective silences that simultaneously enhance the fly-on-the-wall conceit and heighten the comic effect. Without descending into the sentimental or the trite, somehow The Office closes for business on a genuinely heartwarming note.
On the DVD: This single disc has good, if unexceptional, bonus features. There's a behind-the-scenes documentary in similar format to those on the previous releases, a commentary from Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais on Episode 2, a funny and deservedly self-congratulatory featurette on the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, the full video of David Brent's single "If You Don't Know Me By Now" plus a recording session for "Freelove Freeway" (with Noel Gallagher on backing vocals). --Mark Walker
Duo of Christmas specials, first screened in December 2003, that conclude the award-winning faux documentary comedy series created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. In 'Part 1', three years have passed since the BBC documentary crew first began filming at Wernham Hogg. When they return for a final catch-up visit, they find Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) in the boss's chair. David Brent (Ricky Gervais) has become a travelling sales rep for a cleaning products company, blown his redundancy payout on releasing his own pop single ('If You Don't Know Me By Now'), and taken on a showbiz agent to book him a string of Z-list celebrity appearances. Despite his successful sueing of Wernham Hogg for unfair dismissal, Brent pays frequent visits to his old workplace with his dog in tow, much to the annoyance of boss Neil (Patrick Baladi). Tim (Martin Freeman) is flustered to hear of the imminent arrival of Dawn (Lucy Davis), who along with her fiancé Lee (Joel Beckett) is being flown back from her new life in Florida by the documentary crew to attend the office Christmas party. In 'Part 2', Tim's world is rocked when Dawn turns up at the office to say hello, but he tries not to get his hopes up, particularly since Lee is accompanying Dawn to the office party. Meanwhile, David Brent has joined a dating agency and, in between making his celebrity appearances in nightclubs, he meets up for drinks with a disappointing selection of single women. However, he hits the jackpot when he meets his dating-agency date for the office party, a very attractive and intelligent woman, Carol (Sandy Hendrickse), who seems to bring out the best in him. Meanwhile Dawn, who had left the party early with her insensitive pig of a boyfriend Lee, later returns alone, much to the surprise and delight of her real soulmate Tim.