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This review is from: The Office - The Complete First Series  [DVD] (DVD)
Some people still don't get this. I'm amazed how many people still give me that perplexed glare when I compare the genius of `The Office' with that `Faulty Towers'. `The Office?' they say, as if their long-standing respect for my opinion is suddenly in jeopardy, `but why is it funny? It's just people in an office'. An worthy reflection and précis, no doubt! I'm increasing convinced that people just don't WANT to get it! People just don't want to give undivided attention, absorb every aspect, and conclude for themselves (.e., without the assistance of a studio audience or laughter track) precisely what is and is not funny. Yes, the lack of a `laughter prompt' is a hindrance for some. I can't help but wonder how many past sitcoms would have been so superior if the laughter track been dropped: `I'm Alan Partridge', `Father Ted', `The Young Ones'..... but the dim reality is that they would not have been half as successful!
Thankfully, Merchant and Gervais managed it! In fact, they used this concept to attract the audience they desired: an audience who appreciated their art. Indeed, in this fast-paced day and age, many simply do not have the time they wish to emerge themselves in book, classics and culture, but are completely aggravated with the monotonous so-called entertainment that the `box' offers.
`The Office', in this sense, is perfect! That is not to say that it is for the elite. Actually, I fail to comprehend what is NOT to get or what is NOT funny. Gervais sets up the exasperatingly over-confident tactless idiocy of character David Brent right from the opening shot. As Brent interviews and promises to employ someone who is plainly under-qualified for a job as forklift diver, he `bigs up' the candidate to Sammy (who gives jobs in the warehouse) complete with fibs, comical hand gestures, and knowing glances at the candidate and camera that are the staple traits of this main character. The complex relationship between Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis) is performed outstandingly by the actors and produces the main thread of the plot that links all the episodes. In turn, their light-hearted harassment of Team Leader Garrath (Mackenzie Crook) is also great entertainment for the viewer. The highlight of the series is probably episode 4, when an outside trainer visits the team for a day's workshop. Having an outsider among the chaos enforces the ridiculousness and unprofessional nature of the whole set up, and what a real fool Brent really is, as his reaction to potentially being slightly out of control is played brilliantly by Gervais.
So, some people cannot understand what IS funny about `The Office', personally, I simply cannot see what IS NOT funny about it. Pure genius in fact.