The Office-Series 2 (2001)
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Video Diary
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes, occasional|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Office is a truly novel warts-and-all depiction of life in a nondescript office, like many thousands of others. It is not the funniest show I have seen come out of the BBC in recent years (that honour goes to The League of Gentlemen), but it doesn't lag too far behind in terms of strength of writing and the outstanding performances put in by the lead actors. Before moving to Australia in 1995, I spent a couple of years working in Slough, on the very trading estate which is shown in the opening credits for The Office. I have to apologise to residents of that town - not for Sir John Betjeman's damning poetry - but just because I am sorry that you have to live there.
This is the second series of the show, and for those of you who missed the first, the review of the Series 1 DVD can be found here. In a nutshell, the series is a spoof "fly on the wall" documentary, exploring the working lives of a group of office workers in 2002 England. The denizens of Wernham Hogg (paper merchants) are filmed throughout their working lives, and most of them seem to cope admirably - almost forgetting the cameras are present in the main. Unfortunately for all concerned (except us viewers), the office manager, David Brent (Ricky Gervais) is all too aware of the cameras and makes it his goal to appear on them as often as possible. He believes he is loved by his staff, due in large part to his innate (imagined) leadership skills and his (self-perceived) immense talent as an entertainer. He thinks his sole purpose in life is to have fun...unfortunately his managers disagree.
This series begins as the "new lot" of employees from the now-closed Swindon branch try to adjust to life in the Slough office. All the old favourites make a welcome return, too - the obsequious and terminally insensitive Gareth (Mackenzie Crook), newly-promoted senior sales rep Tim (Martin Freeman) and the secret love of his life, receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis). Unfortunately for David, he has a new boss Neil (Patrick Baladi) from the Swindon office, and this chap has a secret weapon - true management ability!
This DVD presents all six episodes from the second series, as follows:
The series is genuinely very, very funny. It is also incredibly cringe worthy - Gervais is magnificent as the boss from hell. He veers uncontrollably between nauseatingly un-funny, political incorrectness and petulant vindictiveness, all the while seemingly oblivious to how monstrously he treats his staff and the ever-present television crew. This is very highly recommended, and will ring very true to almost anyone who has ever worked in an incestuous office environment. Darn close to classic television - very highly recommended indeed (although be warned, the M15+ rating is totally warranted).
The overall video transfer of this disc, for a television series, is very good indeed.
The series is presented in its original televised aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it has been 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer, as might be expected for such recent material, is essentially flawless. There is a touch of softness occasionally, along with some deliberate loss of focus (to support the fly-on-the-wall feel), but it is generally as sharp as any Australian digital television broadcast. There is some noticeable grain/pixelization present during the opening title shots of Slough, but otherwise the transfer is very solid.
Shadow detail and black levels are not heavily tested as almost all of the series is shot in bright conditions. Colours are very realistic and well rendered, with a fairly subdued and minimalist palette as befits offices in general, and Slough in particular. Skin tones are totally natural throughout.
The transfer is free from MPEG artefacts. Aliasing is mildly evident (for example as a shimmer in Venetian blinds), but on my set-up was never distracting. When viewed on an interlaced player, the aliasing is more pronounced, but again is not problematic. There was no noticeable edge enhancement. There are no significant film (video) artefacts in the way of scratches or specks.
There is an English for the Hard of Hearing subtitle track present, which follows the dialogue fairly well, giving relevant audio cues, but it does paraphrase some of the dialogue for the sake of brevity.
This series comes on a single RSDL disc. I was unable to locate the layer change, so I assume that it is wisely placed between episodes.
The overall audio quality of this disc is perfectly fine for a television series. I could identify no significant defects at all.
The audio track is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at a bitrate of 192 kbps.
Dialogue was always crystal clear and audio sync was fine.
The title music is arranged by Big George and is a very nice cover version of Handbags and Gladrags (written by Mike D'Abo, of Manfred Mann fame). Other than during the titles, music is pretty well unused in the series. In Episode 5, the Bee Gees tracks sound fine - albeit they are being played from a portable CD player in a noisy office!
The soundstage is obviously heavily frontal in nature, but perfectly satisfactory and totally suited to the pseudo-documentary nature of the series. With Pro Logic enabled some sound is redirected to the surround speakers, but this generally adds little to the audio experience. Possibly the most striking audio feature is the refreshing lack of canned laughter. This adds immensely to the documentary feeling of the series, and makes a welcome change from the laughter which is often heavily overdone on television comedies.
The subwoofer is (unsurprisingly) unused.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a few reasonably good extras on the disc.
The menu is a minimalist photograph of a potted plant, accompanied by ambient office noises. It allows the selection of individual episodes (each with five chapter stops), the option to play all episodes in sequence, chapter and subtitle selection or the following extras (all available with subtitles).
Running for a healthy 13:08, these are all high quality, very funny scenes, presented at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
Running for 7:43, these scenes are all fairly typical bloopers which will definitely raise a smile nonetheless. They are presented at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (co-writers) presented a behind the scenes look at the creation of the show. This crazy feature provides an insight into the japes and general backstage nonsense of the writers and runs for a commendable 20:11. It is once again presented at 1.78:1, with slightly inferior video quality and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Whilst the first series has now been released on DVD in Region 1, the second series does not yet appear to be available. The Region 2 disc appears to be identical to the Region 4 release.
The Office - Series 2 is a rare treat. The humour is sometimes embarrassingly crass - but no matter how politically incorrect, it always manages to raise an embarrassed laugh. Ricky Gervais has produced what many consider a classic character in David Brent, and a marvellously funny roll call of supporting straight men. When Matt Groening (The Simpsons) proclaims this to be "One of the funniest comedies I've seen in years", who could deny that this is classic British humour at its best. Outrageous, embarrassing and sterling stuff. Utterly recommended.
The video quality is very good for a television series.
The audio quality is perfectly fine for a dialogue-driven, pseudo documentary television comedy.
The extras are fairly few, but of good quality and appreciated nevertheless.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|