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March 29, 2004 | by  | in Film |
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(DVD Review) The Office

Like The Simpsons and Fawlty Towers, The Office is one of the greatest television programmes in the history of mankind. I don’t watch enough television to authoritatively make such statements, but the populists back me up. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows the fake-u-mentary set in the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg paper merchants is as good as it gets. It’s impossible to single out classic episodes, ‘cos they all are.

I love all of it. Keith as Ali G. The tech geek. David as a consultant at motivational seminars. David spin-doctoring the press. David comparing himself to Jesus. David and Gareth, like Don Brash, trying to pretend they’re not bigoted, when they’re exceptionally prejudiced. You name it. It’s hardly any easier to choose particular scenes to quote. Nonetheless, one sublime example is David rhapsodising the merits of England’s shitholes when he’s fired: “My world does not end with these four walls – Slough’s a big place. And when I’m finished with Slough there’s… Reading, Aldershot, Bracknell, you know. I’ve got Didcot, Yateley…”

Nothing spectacular on the special features, but with something this wonderful who needs them? I posit that part of the reason The Office is so successful is that’s there a little bit of David Brent, a little of the would-be “chilled out entertainer,” in most of us. No one – and I’ve commiserated with a lot of people – can believe the Americans are going to lobotomize it into a remake, probably with a canned laugh track. With Brad Pitt as David Brent (yes, that’s not a typo). Humour as dumb and obvious as The Office’s is dry, delicate and side-splitting, no doubt.

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Newtown, between 1908-10. Photograph taken by Sydney Charles Smith. 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. 1/1-019663-G

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