Revisiting “The Office,” 10 years later, with this special edition DVD

No matter your feelings about the American version of The Office on NBC — love it, loathe it, or used to love it but have become disappointed in it over time (which is how I feel this current season) — this is the perfect time to revisit the original UK version that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant created, wrote and directed for the BBC a decade ago.

That’s because the BBC has just released The Office: Special Edition four-DVD set.

Watching it now, what strikes me is how much more risque the original UK series was (God bless the Brits for their tolerance and openness), as well as how much more believable it is — not only in its humor, but in its character development and the relationship all of the characters have with the documentary crew filming them inside and outside of the office.

Just take a look at this clip from the first season. Roll it.

Also, David Brent (Gervais) seems like he actually was a good boss before the documentary crew showed up, prompting him to play to the cameras and try to position himself as a comedic star. Of course, in real life, this show achieved just that for Gervais.

Of note, the first disc includes the entire first season, but with the added wraparounds of introductory five-minute pieces interviewing Gervais and Merchant, cast members Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook and Lucy Davis, as well as celebrity fans such as Matthew Perry, Ben Stiller, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Guest and more.

The second disc features the original pre-pilot that Merchant made as part of his initial BBC producer training back in 1998, three years before it emerged as a BBC program and five years before it appeared on BBC America. That pre-pilot stars the David Brent we’d come to know and laugh at, but put him in charge of a wood pulp, bleach and dye company, and included Merchant among the office employees. This disc also includes a 38-minute documentary that explains how Merchant met Gervais and how their friendship begat the show.

Disc three includes the second season, video diaries and outtakes. The fourth and final disc includes the two-part Christmas special finale (with commentary), as well as other documentaries, featurettes and videos.

It’s frankly a must-have for anyone who already is a fan of the show, or of Gervais and Merchant.

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Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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