Office, The (UK)-Series Two (2002)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||216:22 (Case: 717)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||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|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Small scene during the credits of each episode.|
“Money don't make my world go round. I'm reaching out to a higher ground."
After the initial season of The Office achieved huge critical and popular success, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant produced another six episodes which first screened in September 2002. This series follows on from the prior closing episode with Swindon branch closed and staff relocating to Slough. David Brent (Ricky Gervais) remains manager of the branch however the former manager of Swindon, Neil Godwin (Patrick Baladi), is now David's boss. Most of the cast from series one have been retained however the addition of Swindon means a new batch of characters has swelled the ranks. The basic premise and main characteristics of The Office environment and staff as described in my season one review here remain unchanged, so I won’t repeat them.
The main difference from season one is the addition of Neil, who is everything that David is not. He is younger, better looking, more dynamic, and worst of all for David, more popular with the staff. Another significant addition is Rachel (Stacey Roca), who is flirty and attractive, and has the potential to upset the office dynamics between Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis).
Two weeks have passed since the staff at Slough branch learned that they would remain and incorporate Swindon into their office. The former manager of Swindon, Neil Godwin, is now David's boss - a fact that David finds very uncomfortable. Tim Canterbury has been made senior sales representative and seems to be pretty cosy with the additional responsibilities and power that the role brings. Things are a bit cool between Tim and Dawn after their unfulfilled romance was squashed in the last series, and Tim's increased officiousness isn't helping. Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook) remains the thorn in Tim's side but is still the object of practical jokes. Neil arrives in the branch to help welcome the staff from Swindon and it is soon apparent that he has won the respect and admiration of the combined offices. Jennifer Taylor-Clark (Stirling Gallacher), who is Neil's manager, also arrives for the meeting to help oversee the transition. Brent is intimidated at being upstaged by Neil and so goes overboard in trying to impress the staff with off-colour and very bad jokes that go down like a lead balloon. As the hole he is digging gets bigger, and the awkward silences deepen, Brent bales out disgusted that the Swindon crew don't understand that he is an entertainer. In the subsequent drinks session Brent remains an outsider while Neil gets on with everyone - including the Slough staff. A blue joke involving black men and racial stereotypes lands Brent in hot water and earns his first reprimand for the day. Rachel and Tim share some flirtatious sparks with Gareth circling like a sex starved shark - evil intent on his mind. Brent re-joins the party but soon earns his second reprimand for the day following more ill-considered banter. Dawn is concerned at the obvious attraction between Tim and Rachel and tries to reconnect with Tim, but her fiancée Lee (Joel Beckett), who works in the warehouse, interrupts them angrily. All in all a pretty bad day for David.
David continues to try and connect with ex-Swindon staff but his efforts keep falling flat. After his off-colour joke from the previous episode he has taken a special interest in black employee Oliver (Howard Saddler) - to "prove" that he's not racist. It's time for appraisals for the office staff but David seems more interested in any positive feedback about him being an inspiration and role model. When that doesn't come naturally David isn't adverse in prompting a positive response. A fire evacuation drill results in Brent leaving the wheelchair bound Brenda (Julie Fernandez) stranded in the stair well. His awkward treatment of her becomes a recurring theme across the episodes. The relationship between Tim and Rachel seems to have reached a new level much to Gareth and Dawn's concern. Gareth has some advice for Rachel which extends beyond the boundaries of good taste. "Big" Keith (Ewan Macintosh) has an inspirational appraisal interview with David which pretty well sums up the utter pointlessness of their office existence. Neil assembles the ex-Swindon staff for a meeting with Brent who ends up on the receiving end of some negative feedback. David thinks taking them out for lunchtime drinks will change their minds about him but even this degenerates into uncomfortable silences. Neil continues to gain the affection of the staff which results in a Brent outburst and yet another reprimand. Dawn reluctantly tries her best to bolster David's damaged ego after work.
David takes on a new look which he thinks reflects his youth and daring personality. Strangely enough his new clothes are remarkably similar to what Neil usually wears. It is Trudy's (Rachel Isaac) birthday and she receives some raunchy presents - seemingly in tune with her raunchy personality. Tim shows the Swindon group around the warehouse where the usual barrage of sexist and boorish behaviour is on display. A training firm arrives in the office to see David with the offer of a substantial payment to deliver a training presentation. David's damaged ego gets an enormous boost, however he gets defensive again on learning that Neil turned down the same offer because he was too busy. Neil organises a birthday party for Trudy and again shows how popular he is with the staff - much to David's annoyance. Tim and Dawn prank Gareth but Rachel takes some of the gloss off the occasion for Dawn. Brent's best mate from season one, Chris Finch ("Finchy") (Ralph Ineson) arrives for the party and shows, to David's dismay, that he and Neil are already good mates. Neil even laughs at Finchy's crude jokes - which seems a bit out of character. As the alcohol flows the party raunches up with Trudy getting especially friendly with the male staff. Another ill-considered comment by Brent at the party leads to an uncomfortable silence, however during the closing credits we see that Trudy and Finchy haven't let that spoil their night.
David arrives for work sporting an earring to go with his new image. He is excited about his upcoming trainer session and recruits Dawn to help. Tim and Rachel appear to have closed the deal on their relationship and Gareth is disgusted that she would prefer someone that looks like a "Fisher-Price" man over him. Gareth helpfully suggests however that he'd still "do" Rachel even though she is now "sloppy seconds". Simon the computer expert (Matthew Holness) has come to upgrade the office computers and soon demonstrates why Tim thinks he's a tool. Gareth however soon strikes up a conversation with him where they try to impress each other with bullsh*t stories. "You know Bruce Lee's not really dead don't you?" - heh. Brent and Neil clash over David using Dawn for his trainer session that night and earns yet another reprimand. It is clear that Neil intends to stay on top of David until his performance improves. During a training practice session with Gareth, David finds out that the Swindon crew have nick-named him "Bluto" (the villain from "Popeye") because of his appearance. Needless to say this does not go down well so Brent confronts the office where he is reminded of his own use of nicknames. Of course Brent doesn't "get" the hypocrisy. Yet another reprimand from Neil is earned when it is learned that David has forgotten to authorise Brenda's pay and Neil really shows dissatisfaction at David's apparent laziness. Never mind - the gig as guest motivational speaker later that night will show his true talents. As you'd expect however his efforts are a complete disaster and result in a hilarious, but cringe inducing performance, that leaves everyone dumbstruck. The last few minutes truly show how out of touch with reality he really is.
It is comic relief day in the office where the staff are raising money for charity. Dawn is selling kisses and Finchy soon takes advantage with the usual crude banter. "Squeal like a piggy" anyone? Tim doesn't see the appeal of joining in with someone else's idea of "wackiness" where the boss acts like an idiot and a colleague is "dacked". Gareth shows his compassionate side by describing how he'd test disabled people to make sure they were not faking. Brenda is obviously unimpressed. Jennifer arrives in the office and introduces Neil and Rachel who will do a dance performance for charity money. Of course the duo nail their interpretation of "More Than A Woman" and "You Should Be Dancing" from "Saturday Night Fever" leaving Brent disgusted but the office staff in raptures. Brent responds with a MC Hammer routine that will make your jaw drop. This is one of the great scenes in either season of "The Office" - showing the complete inadequacy of David as a popular person or effective manager, whilst remaining ignorant of the fact. Gareth's mates Jimmy "the purve" (Bruce Mackinnon) and Nathan "Oggmonster", (Stephen Merchant in his first appearance in either series) arrive in the office to contribute to the charity day. Oggie shows a similar inability to take a joke as David and the two soon clash. At a quiet point in the day Neil confronts David about a report that is overdue and lays down a warning that his performance must improve otherwise there will be ramifications. During the tea-break Tim hides Gareth's office equipment while Keith and Dawn share some quality time (scotch-egg anyone?). Tim pays for a kiss from Dawn and the spark makes him realise that his fling with Rachel is not real and that Dawn is his true love. Neil and Jennifer make another visit to David's office to give him the news that he is to be made redundant. David is devastated but expects that the staff will be outraged and rise up to support him. They of course do nothing of the sort. The day closes with David dressed in an ostrich suit playing the martyr during a magazine promotional photo shoot for the charity. A very poignant end to a brilliant episode.
Brent's last day in the office show him as outwardly calm and looking forward to a new career as motivational speaker. He equates his situation with Jesus in that his "work here is done", and he needs to move on as the world is out there waiting for him. None of the staff seem too concerned about David leaving, and even Gareth seems to have coped well enough with the news. The company has sent a writer to interview David for an article in the industry journal "Inside Paper", but David is more keen on dictating the content rather than answering the questions. Tim and Dawn continue to wind up Gareth with Rachel getting in on the fun. Gareth has bought a "Dirty Bertie" doll for his mate "gobbler's" birthday - much to Tim's disgust. Dawn hands in her resignation which David assumes is in protest at his redundancy. She assures him that it isn't but of course Brent prefers his interpretation of events. Neil offers Tim the job of office manager but Tim recommends Gareth instead as his heart is not really in the position and Gareth would be a better candidate. Gareth soon shows that he will become the complete office Nazi and Tim ponders his unwise recommendation. After an office discussion on what women find attractive in men Tim decides it's time to break up with Rachel. Gareth sees his opportunity to move in but Rachel rebuffs him in no uncertain manner. The representatives of Cooper and Webb with whom David hopes to work as motivational speaker arrive in the office to see David. David thinks this will be a good inclusion in the magazine article however they deliver the bad news that his services won't be required. Brent is devastated and for the first time in the series looks really depressed and dejected as the reality of his position hits home. Adding to the office drama is the discovery by Tim that Dawn has resigned and is moving to America with Lee. Dawn is obviously also not happy about the impending move and her relationship with Lee, but rationalises that a relationship is not meant to be like a fairy tale, and that reality means compromises must be made. Tim finally realises that his time with Dawn is running out so he must make a move or forever live wondering what might have been. Things do not go well for Tim with Dawn rejecting his offer - however at least their feelings are now out in the open. Neil and Jennifer meet with David to discuss the redundancy package at which David finally breaks down and begs for his job. The decision is made however, and Brent is left to ponder life and where it all leads. As he eloquently quotes from Dolly Parton "if you want a rainbow then you have to put up with the rain" - "and people say she is just a big pair of tits" - heh. An amazing episode which lurches from comedy to pathos whilst ending on a rather depressing note. For the first time Brent shows that he is a real person - with real feelings - not just a buffoon. While Tim and Dawn look on forlornly and ponder their futures the credits roll and we are left wondering whether the door has finally shut, or whether there is redemption for the staff of The Office.
The Office - Series Two is the third disc included in The Office Special Edition four disc box-set.
The video is presented in the original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and is essentially identical in quality to the series one transfer reviewed earlier. Being filmed in a pseudo-documentary style with standard definition cameras means there were frequent intentional losses of sharpness due to camera zooms and quick pans. Overall however there is nothing to complain about with good colours and accurate skin tones. Despite the deliberate drabness of the office environment the sombre hues of white, grey and brown are distinct and clearly defined with lots of detail evident. The only video problems were some visible compression artefacts and graininess during dimly lit scenes such as at the pub and a bit of aliasing in the venetian blinds and computer monitors. These however were minor distractions only. Given the nature of the source material this is a very good presentation overall.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 Kb/s is the only offering but is a very acceptable effort. All the dialogue is clear and synchronised with the video. With surround encoding activated there was a surprising amount of incidental office sounds such as phones ringing and copiers clattering from the surround channels. The English subtitles appear accurate and are easy to read. Given the pseudo-documentary style of presentation and office environment the audio track is suitably clear and problem free.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu includes short animations with office background noises.
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital audio at 192 kb/s. Some hilarious stuff here - mostly involving Gareth. Would have been nice to hear reasons why these were left out of the final cut.
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital audio at 192 kb/s. As Ricky says - these are the bits where the actors f*ck up and start laughing during takes. Most of these are caused by Gervais improvising and there's a couple of real funny ones involving "big" Keith's character
1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital audio at 192 kb/s. Gervais' and Merchant's video diary of the making of series two. Includes hand held video filming of the actors and crew during writing, award presentations, filming, and editing. Pretty interesting behind the scenes stuff although the video quality is not so good.
This version is from a four disc box-set which contains both series, the Christmas specials, and a disc of special features. The Region 4 single disc version of The Office: Series 2 appears to the be identical in video and audio quality and includes the same extras. The Region 1 DVD contains an additional extra called "Slough slang glossary " - presumably to help American audiences with British slang. The US version of the four disc special edition box set appears identical to this box set under review apart from different cover art work.
Following on from the first series these six episodes chronicle the fall of David Brent until his final unravelling. With the addition of David's nemesis Neil, we have the embodiment of everything that David is not. Ultimately David's ego folds under Neil's obvious superiority, and realises that he is indeed a failure. It is this shattering realisation that makes David a sympathetic character, rather than just a egotistic buffoon. The relationship between Tim and Dawn also takes a dark turn with what could have been a real romance and a new life for them being dissolved by indecision. Indecision and apathy is an underlying theme throughout all twelve episodes, and it seems fitting that The Office should conclude on that note. There is however a glimmer of hope for our protagonists in that although this door has closed, other doors may yet open.
In common with the creators of Fawlty Towers, Gervais and Merchant limited their work to a brief twelve episode run plus two Christmas specials. Gervais has said in the past that once you've told your story, just stop. Don't keep going. If you do, eventually, the audience will grow to hate you for it. Perhaps because The Office never outlasted its welcome it remains one of the very best pieces of entertainment ever committed to television.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good. The extras are limited but interesting.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|