Back before Ricky Gervais became known as the guy who was the “edgy” host of the Golden Globes (hint: if you are referring to yourself as edgy, you are not edgy), he was the mastermind behind a brilliant little program called The Office. Before America was bestowed its own version with Michael Scott, Jim, Pam and Dwight, Gervias created their blueprint over at the BBC with Tim, Gareth, Dawn and David Brent.
There has been an on-going debate amongst fans as to which version of the show is superior since the U.S. version debuted in 2005. While I enjoyed both programs, I think that each one bring something different to the table. The British version proved better at knowing when to call it a day; while the U.S. version is limping through its final episodes and is now barely watchable, the original version of The Office was only 13 episodes long – 12 regular episodes and a two part Christmas Special (man, those Brits love their Christmas Specials). The American interpretation is sweeter than the original UK version in many ways. This is most evident in a comparison of the two bosses: while Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is a doofus, it is clear that many of his gaffes and bad behavior comes from a place of loneliness and a desire to make his co-workers his family. David Brent (Gervais), on the other hand, has a nastier edge than his American counterpart and is much more oblivious to how people see him and the impact his behavior has on others. If you look at the early episodes of the American version of The Office, you can see some of these traits still present in Michael Scott; he would lose these as the series progressed.
For the most part, Gervais has retired the David Brent character, save from a surpise appearance on the U.S. version of The Office during Steve Carell’s final season:
However, it seems like that is going to change. Ricky Gervais is stepping back into the character for a one-off special that will air on the BBC and on Gervais’ YouTube Channel on March 15th, 2013. The special is part of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day, a fundraising event that uses comedy to raise money for charitable causes in the UK and Africa. The special will find David Brent ten years after the end of the UK The Office run. From the promotional materials:
The Office Revisited finds David working a menial job while pursuing his true dream: making it in the music business. “He is passing on his wisdom to younger would-be rock stars now and is living vicariously through a young performer, Dom Johnson,” said Gervais. “Well, really he is trying to worm his way back into rock and roll. Fans of The Office will be excited to know we finally get to hear the whole of ‘The Serpent Who Guards the Gates of Hell’ and an amazing Brent self-funded video, ‘Equality Street.’ Horrendous.”
A trailer for The Office Revisited can be viewed on Ricky Gervais’ YouTube page. It definitely has some potential, though I always have some trepidation about going back to spend time with characters that I’ve made my peace with. There is always the fear that it will taint your memory and become a parody of what it once one. But it’s for a good cause and since it is intended to be a one-time only thing, I’m hoping that they will do a nice job with it. This was Gervais’ most iconic role and I don’t think he wants to trifle with it either.
So mark your calendars – David Brent is back for a limited engagement!