Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hi to New Readers

I'm really flattered that people are still finding this blog and asking me to continue with it. I do plan on continuing my recaps til the end, I'm just a procrastinator with way too many blogs. This blog is still something I'm proud of, and I'm glad people are reading.

I also want to thank the readers who pointed out corrections to some of the dialogue. Much appreciated, as I don't have subtitles in my dvds, and there also seem to be issues with the audio volume in certain parts. I'll look through these and make the necessary corrections to the posts when I'm done recapping the Christmas special.

If I find the time, I also intend to write recaps of the Microsoft training videos with just Gervais and Merchant, where Gervais plays David Brent. When I stop blogging, I will keep this blog up as a recaps archive.

So new posts are coming "soon". Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christmas Specials, Part 8: "Mumbo Jumbo's"

Red, lonely streetlights stare into the night as David drives in his car. Next we see him walking in the door of a pub. "Mumbo Jumbo's," he says. Great name that's got it all: cheap lame pun, sounds like a place 16-year-olds go to drink with a fake ID. "Oo, smell the sour beer." It's great that he keeps up the humor in all moments, as if he's a lame TV show host who can't stop joking even if he has nothing good to say. He spots a poster on the wall and points at it to show his name - only it doesn't have his name, it has "Surprise T.V Personality." David is visibly disappointed. He says it's a shame they haven't put his name on it, "now my fanbase won't know I'm on." He thinks he has a fanbase?! Who would that consist of? Fired executives who didn't know how to do their jobs and now hate their former bosses? People with a terible sense of humor? I dunno, I guess it's feasible someone would have liked him if it were a real documentary, but only if they were as clueless as David. Surely not young people who go to places like Mumbo Jumbo's. David's agent walks in, a character not unlike the incompetent agent in Extras. David tells him jokingly, "I'd like to complain about this poster, please."

Peter the Agent is not very good at presenting his agency; the interviewer asks him what they have and he just says "all sorts of stuff." David has to press him to tell the camera what they do, and it turns out they have "celebrities like David" - David chuckles smugly - tribute bands and "lookey-likeys". And which ones? "I've got Kirk Douglas," Peter says. "Michael Douglas," corrects David. Hee. Asked what he does, Peter says he goes to parties and "he'll just wander around looking like Michael Douglas". Sounds very exciting. I think a look-a-like is actually supposed to perform something to make it interesting, not just stand around at the party, but I could be wrong. Peter makes his agency look even sadder by adding that people aren't recognizing him, think he's just some old guy, so he's going to hire a Catherine Zeta-Jones look-a-like to show who he is.

David acts like the agency is just great and has awesomely talented people - like himself - listed. I love the phrase "celebrities like David". It's a good thing to mention that, because "celebrities" alone would be a bit, well, misleading. David jokes that Peter should have a look-a-like of him. "You're nowhere near famous enough," replies Peter who seems to have all the subtlety of a truck, but at least he's being honest. David giggles and claims he was only joking, but then gets offended: "You're meant to big me up... sort of..." Some of David's patented incompleted sentences. Both guys stare ahead awkwardly. I guess David's self esteem is, now that he lost his job, completely dependent on his "celebrity", and comments like that really hurt. Which makes me feel even sorrier for him than usual.

David interview. He talks slowly, like a man on a mission, which he thinks he is. "I..have..been opportunity...that would literally be a sin to waste, so get on with it, yeah?" I love the use of literally, one of the most abused words of recent years. I'm not even sure how the word works here, because how can something be literally a sin? It's a religious concept and David isn't religious, so he's mixing phrases badly. He claims that, since TV showed him to people, they're now saying, "Yeah? What else you got?" Well, I agree, but I think they mean who else, not what else David's wide talents can offer them. "So..duty.. calls, you know. I seem to be able to give pleasure." I love how dirty that sounds, and how at odds it is with the following scene.

There's a young host, and if he's a British celebrity I don't recognize him. The crowd cheers at every sentence he says. They're all about 19 years old, and the chant of the night is "feeling hot, hot, hot!" We see David in the wings, trying to jam to the music and get into the mood. Is it the agent's fault or David's, I don't know, but this totally isn't his scene.

David is announced as a "special treat". As the announcer mentions he's from The Office, David walks towards him, so the crowd can see him, but no one makes a peep (yeah, they love him). The announcer looks at David as if to say "I've got more", and David goes back to the wings. Embarrassing introduction continues: "Some of you may even have bought his single recently, though probably not, cos he got to about number 400." Nice. And as he introduces David in an enthuasiastic tone, the applause is very vague, and the crowd looks bored. First things first: without saying hi, David takes the microphone and says, "Got to 113, so..." That's not so bad for a first single, actually. David chuckles awkwardly. The announcer asks what he's doing. "Just doing this at the moment," David says and chuckles even more awkwardly. Nothing saves the day like a bad joke. The host asks what else he's doing. David buys time by saying "more of these", then mentions his "walks for Mencap... which is important for me...", and he stops to look at the crowd, as if this should convince them that he is the king of charity. No one seems to really care.

"Got lots of stuff in the pipeline," he finishes, thinking this sounds nice and vague. Sadly, this piques the announcer's interest and he wants to hear what kind of stuff. "Oh.. even more of Opportunities really..." He can't think of more to say and just awkwardly cuts it off. You can hear people chattering in the crowd, obviously not listening. "Great," the announcer says in a quiet, unimpressed voice, then corrects, "Great, great!" Gotta keep up with the enthusiastic Mumbo Jumbo's spirit, even if the guest is giving you nothing. David could have at least lied that he's doing something. Writing a book about his experiences, educating other people who got fired, something. Who's gonna check?

For the coup de grace, the announcer asks, enthusiastically again, what David is going to perform tonight. David makes a surprised face, it's obvious that he didn't know he's supposed to do something. "They just said come out and say hello," he says. Someone coughs in the audience, and it's very audible. Never a good sign. "That's it, is it?" the host asks, his voice gone flat now that he realizes this surprise TV personality is not only a complete flop with the audience, but also not much of a personality. "David Brent!" the host shouts again, but no one really bothers to clap. "Feeling hot, hot, hot" is chanted again as David stands in the wings, looking at the camera with a look of utter humiliation and failure, but trying to look stern.

David's problem is obvious: he thinks he can ride on the success of the show, which ended a few years ago, but since he hasn't really gotten his life together to do something new, he has nothing to offer in these performances. Look David, it's nothing personal - documentaries just don't make celebrities.

Christmas Specials, part 7: "Perks of the Job"

David walks into Gareth's office. Is this still the same visit or another one? He opens a closed door without knocking, since he obviously still owns the place. "Heyy, the man himself," David says and gives the good old male "slap my paw" greeting to Finchy, who, to his credit, seems genuinely happy to see David and says "Brentmeister" with some affection. David slaps Gareth's hand, a brotherly greeting, perhaps a bit condescending considering Gareth's the boss now. Neil holds out his hand but David doesn't grab it or even make eye contact, so Neil has to draw the hand back. Classy. You could just treat him like a person even if you do hate him, David.

Finchy asks how "life on the road" is going. David insinuates that there are "a few perks, aren't there." He grins to the guys as if he's having lots and lots of sex all the time. You're not fooling anyone, David. "What sort of perks?" asks Neil, because he either wants to point out that he doesn't believe David, or he just can't imagine anything sexual concerning him. "Use your imagination! Young, free and single - motels!" He makes a sort of car brake screeching noise before "motels". Well, single, OK, but young and free? "What, girls?" asks Gareth, who's smart enough to get the obvious hint, but not smart enough to not point it out. David tells him not to be "so blatant about it." Hee. "Isn't that what you meant?" asks a confused Gareth. "Don't try to work out if I meant something or not, it's an innuendo!" laughs David. But don't you make innunendos so that people can work it out? Obviously he never has sex and doesn't want to be too specific, because he'd get caught lying.

David says Finchy knows what he's talking about; "You don't know, you're stuck behind a desk," he tells Neil belittlingly. Neil says he wouldn't anyway, since he's getting married. Finchy congratules him, seeming genuinely happy. The camera zooms in on David's face, and he suddenly looks like he just bit on some very sour grapes. He pretends to care who it is, and Neil happily tells the camera that his wife-to-be is named Rebecca, and they've been together for six years. His face lights up just thinking about her, which is cute. David reluctantly asks when the wedding is set. "Not until next year," says Neil. David gives a childish giggle, like a reflex. "I'll be bloody married by then," he says smugly. "Who to?" Neil asks, surprised. "All I'm saying is, year is a long time," says David. Did Neil say it's gonna be a year, or that he's getting married next year, since it's December now, so do the math, David. Neil asks if David is seeing anyone. "Grandad," says David as if dating is for old people and he's still young free and single and having fun. "Of course he's not," says Finchy meanly. "Of course I AM!" David hurries to defend himself. He says he doesn't commit to anyone, which is at least true.

Neil shows a picture of Rebecca, which isn't shown to the camera. Finchy, of course, calls her a "stunner" and David, of course, calls him a sexist because the cameras are there. Trying to find something negative to say, David says, "I prefer something a little more intellectual." So he calls Finchy sexist for calling a woman beautiful, yet he falls right into the trap of "beautiful=unintelligent", and thinks it's OK to say that on camera. Typical David. Neil points out that Rebecca is a doctor. Finchy teases him that he never sees women like that "not without a staple through her stomach", and I must admit it took me a while to get the joke. Just shows how innocent and virginal I am. Finchy makes a cheek-swabbing gesture I dont' fully get. Is that meant to be wanking? Eww. Neil laughs meanly, because he's getting some kindf o comeuppance.

As a further sign that Neil sometimes stoops to Finchy's level, he asks David if he's bringing any of his "chicks" - said sarcastically - to the Christmas party. David, cornered, stupidly nods his head, and Neil asks if he needs two tickets then. David nods again and says,"One for me, one for definitely a woman." Hee! Definitely. "See you then, wiith a ladyy," he says drawlingly. Neil knows full well he's bluffing and is only waiting for the day he gets to laugh in David's face at last. Which is kinda low of him, but I can't say I blame him really.

David interview. "Yeah, I've got girlfriends - on and off. They come and go." This kind of thing would be impossible to disprove, so you can freely lie to the camera about having a bunch of superficial relationships that your family and friends never saw because they were just so short. The interviewer asks when his last actual relationship was. David finds a way to idiotically dock the question: "I don't look at it as when, I look at it as who and why." He pauses and looks at the camera to show that he's a deep kinda guy who cares about who he goes out with, and why, not when he went out with them last or whatever. I'm wondering if David ever had an actual girlfriend. On the one hand, he'd have wanted to have a "free" youth with no strings attached; on the other hand, he's not attractive or smart enough to attract a bunch of women all the time. I'm sure he's had sex, but with whom and why? That is the question.

David says that his approach with girlfriends - "or girl stroke friends or whatever you wanna label them" - is a lot like this fictional dialogue: "That was fun, can we do it again tomorrow? Can't tomorrow, doing something else then. What are you doing? -Back off. Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies." He smiles smugly, as if that's really witty and makes him a man's man. Which I guess it would if it were true, because the prerequisite for being a man's man in the eyes of other men is basically being a jerk. He says he's not "browsing" for a relationship, and adds jokingly that he's got the money, but he's waiting for a good bargain. "That's a metaphor, I'd NEVER pay for it," he adds quickly and glances at the camera with concern. Heee. It's like his joke about Dawn in the Motivational Speech episode. Or his "I would and I have" comment when Finchy told him he wouldn't score in a whorehouse. So I conclude he has paid for it once or twice. This distracts him, and he seems to do a "where was I?" look at the interviewer. I love how he always gets distracted explaining that he didn't mean things literally, even if it's obvious from the context.

Christmas Specials, Part 6: "Tim's Agenda"

The office. Anne working and not annoying others for a change, as Tim's not at his desk. Cut to the conference room, where Gareth is starting a meeting, "chaired by myself, G. Keenan." He twists his mouth as if this is a great joke, but it's really just a redundant thing to say. I love how we never saw a meeting of this sort before. David's meetings were easygoing business, just remember to laugh at the jokes.

We're about to see what's wrong with Gareth's approach though, as he insists that they go by the agenda even when Tim's got something urgent to add to it. Tim, who has very low bullshit tolerance, just starts telling it, but Gareth blocks his ears and goes "lalalalalala, I did not officially hear that!" I love this. It's so schoolboyish still, even if Gareth's supposed to be the big boss who uses discipline in the jungle to take the employees to their certain deaths. "So I cannot possibly get this on the agenda? There's no way I can get this on the agenda?" asks Tim. "No," Gareth says firmly. "So what's point seven on the agenda?" Tim asks, and Gareth has to admit that it's "Any other business" and Tim can bring it up then. Gareth's self-importance about The Agenda is just like his old "I'm the assistant regional manager" thing. He says it's already typed up, but who typed it up? I bet he did it himself. He has to do things just so, not because lives depend on it but because he just is wired that way. Tim looks tired, old and worn out. Aww, poor Tim. He must be thinking that he could be the boss now if he had chosen to take the job.

Back to Dawn and Lee. Oh my. And yes, I get it - Tim's agenda was to go out with Dawn. Dawn is still holding baby Ryan, who's wriggling and also pulling her hair, which must be distracting while being interviewed. The interviewer asks how Dawn felt when Tim asked her out. "Which time?" says Lee with his eyes still closed, obviously thinking nothing of Tim. Yeah, you're such a catch that you really don't need to worry about Tim. You treat her so well too. She's lucky to have you. I find very few redeeming qualities in Lee, even if I must admit he's pretty good-looking.

"Shut up," says Dawn, something she should say a lot more often. "I didn't really know what to say," she admits. "Well, you did, you said no," says Lee and look sat Dawn with his frows burrowed a bit. Hmm hmm. Maybe she didn't know what to say because she really wanted to go out with him? Dawn corrects that it was because she felt embarrassed for Tim, but "it's a million miles away", and it's obvious she still has feelings for Tim and can't really discuss them on camera or in front of Lee. She asks, "Can we just not talk about it? I don't want to hurt Tim's feelings."

It's classy and kind of her, but it's also very obvious that she can't handle to talk about it, even now, and wonder what it would be like if she had a life with Tim and not this shadow existence in Lee's chosen paradise. Which is not that different from Tim's situation where he chose to stay at Wernham Hogg and created his own hell. I mean, OK, Dawn and Lee had already made plans to go to Florida when Tim acted on his feelings, so it was too little too late. But Dawn had plenty of chances to dump Lee before. It's not that I don't sympathize, but there are moments when you must make a choice, and Dawn made hers, not based on her own true feelings but based on some false notion of loyalty to Lee who treats her like crap. She's a smart, strong woman, but she doesn't have enough self respect to pull off a life that would satisfy her.

Timterview. He admits he's caught in the act, or "banged to rights" - hee! - because people saw him tell Dawn about his feelings. No more "I asked her out as a friend", so that's a relief at least. Tim says people worry what their mates are going to say, but it's not a problem for him "I have... no mates!" and he chuckles a little. I wonder about Tim's friends. You'd think he has loads of them, but he seems quite lonely, while Gareth the idiot has his "mad mates". Tim tells us that he watched that part with his family, "I was mortified, obviously, and my grandmother said, 'I'm not surprised she chose the other feller, I wouldn't kick him out of bed.' " Hee! That's so good. I can't, under any circumstances, imagine my grandmother even mentioning sex. Disturbing. Tim tells the camera, "Lee, if you're watching and you ever get bored with being with someone with her own teeth - Nana's up for it!" I love Tim's humor. Of course, it doesn't leave much to snark about, but it's just natural and flowing from the circumstances. The exact opposite of David's forced puns, that is.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Christmas Specials, part 5: "Record Sales"

New at Brentisms: the links to the side actually work now! Do check them out if you haven't already seen them. They're as funny as the show, since they're written by GervaisMerchant. Back to the special.

We move back to David and Gareth. David is sitting in the chair where Gareth used to sit, and Gareth is in David's place. The camera is closer to David, and he's talking to it as if he's the host of the show. As he always imagined himself to be, I'm sure. David says that there's been a change of title. Gareth isn't called General Manager; "I was sort of omnipotent, this is a much more watered down version." Omnipotent? How many omnipotent people get fired? Hee. But wait a minute - was David general manager? Wasn't he regional manager to Gareth's assistant regional manager?

Gareth says it was because of David who sued Wernham Hogg for being fired. Sued them. For being fired because of incompetence. I'd love to hear what he used as an excuse. Discrimination based on his looks? No, that won't do since he is actually not good-looking. Maybe he sued them because he got fired for being a man. Or being white. Well, he doesn't say what his case was based on, but he does smugly note that he won, and I do think GervaisMerchant are making commentary on modern law suits. Either way, David got a settlement. "Wasted most of it though," Gareth says. "Tell them what you spent it on." What an idiot. Maybe David puts up with this bullshit because he knows Gareth has a right to ask him to leave and/or bar him from the office, and he couldn't take that.

"I released my own single," David says. Interestingly, he didn't bring this up before, so obviously he thinks it's a big flop. David wouldn't not bring up a success if he ever had one, remembering how he blew up the whole motivational speech thing. But when Gareth laughs and says he "didn't even get into the top 100", David immediately hits him back with a "Good! Didn't wanted to! Next!" He should really come up with a new way of dealing with disappointment. It's a bit obvious. The interviewer asks how much it cost. David fuddles that he had to pay for everything - the studio time, the printing costs - but pressed on it, he admits it came to 42,000 pounds. Gareth, off camera, giggles and David glances at him, looking concerned. He's quick to add that that's not counting the money he made when he sold the single, one pound for every single, because "I've got my own record label, Juxtaposition Records" - pregnant pause and look at the camera to let it sink in. Hee! I'm sure it's a very successful record label, with lots of prominent artists.

He hopes it would end there, on a high note, but no such luck as the interviewer asks him how many he sold. He mumbles something incoherent while touching up his tie. "Excuse me?" "One hundred and fifty," David says clearly. So he made 150 pounds. And he lost - 42,000 pounds. Maybe he should have made a demo and offered it to a record company instead? Gareth meanly points out that he only sold it to friends and family, who bought it to support him, and he bought five himself. "You bought them for your mates," says David. "They're still in the garage," says Gareth. Now, on camera, he'll admit that just to make David look bad. So low. David doesn't know how to react to it while still saving face, so he makes a face that looks amused or belittling, "Whatever." Poor David.

We cut to the video, which is brilliant. It's a good parody of the bland ballad genre in that it could be from a real, albeit cheap and lame, music video. It's subtle and if I saw it on a music channel without knowing David Brent, I probably wouldn't think it's a parody. With a closer look, however, it's difficult to take it seriously. It's difficult to recap a music video, but a few pointers:

-It's obviously shot in some kind of abandoned factory or other huge stone building that doesn't look anything like a modern apartment. Sure, they've thrown in a few lamps, a sofa and an armchair, as well as some kind of Oriental religious statue (!), but it doesn't exactly look inhabited. For one thing, the bookshelf is empty. For another, the white curtains everywhere look like the cheapest thing they could throw together in such a short time to somehow dress it as a "home".

-He releases a white dove from a balcony. I've seen this before in a British parody show, so it must be some British 80's video that had this scene, but I don't think I've seen it myself.

-He looks at the picture of his (ex?) girlfriend, a picture set against a white background, with a really ridiculous portrait of a woman laughing with her mouth open, wearing the exact same clothes she wears in a scene where they fight. There's something so obviously fake about that photo, and it cracks me up that it's the only object in the empty bookshelf.

-David's singing is totally different from the Freelove Freeway stuff - raspy, throaty stuff that doesn't sound anything like his real voice. He's obviously straining to sound really masculine, and it just comes out as ridiculous. Extra points for slouching in an armchair and looking sadly at the statue. He's also wearing all white. And he's barefoot, which looks ridiculous in this setting. You know, if it resembled a modern apartment in any way, maybe it'd look natural, but now? Bwah!

-I love how it says "Courtesy Juxtaposition Records", as if that's even a real record company with real copyright claims. All they need is David's permission.

The song is a very typical lame ballad of the boyband variety. David himself sings the harmonies, of course. It's not as preposterous as the songs he sang in Training Day, but it has some pretty bad lines: "Girl, I know the difference / between right and wrong / I ain't gonna do nothing / to break up our happy home /Oh don't get so excited /I get home a little late at night / cos we always act like children / when we argue for some fight." The point of the song seems to be that she was wrong and he was right, and she shouldn't make such a fuss about stuff. Yeah, sounds like David alright. "I aint' gonna do nothing"? Hee.

I'm trying to figure out what Juxtaposition Records is a reference to - the juxtaposition of David and Gareth's new status? But no, that's more like a reversal. The juxtaposition between David's old life of small-scale success and his new life of failure?

The song cuts off abruptly and we move to the office, where Oliver is working at his desk. Cut to Neil, who hasn't changed one bit, coming in and talking to the new receptionist whose name escapes me and I'm too lazy to check. I keep thinking Pam, but that must be from the American Office. David's advanced to Oliver's desk and is keeping up a rather tedious monologue about how "white middle-class fuddy-duddies" - hee! - are looking in the wrong place: "Dr Dre, Ice-T - they're the equivalent of Wordsworth!" OK, that argument isn't actually as lame as it sounds, and I know it's been said by people smarter than David. Rap lyrics can be brilliant. The real joke is, of course, that David still hasn't gotten over his embarrassment over the racist joke thing, and he has to prove to Oliver that he's cool with the black peeps, yo.

Neil shows up, asking David cordially how he's doing. David seems to see this as some kind of insult, as he starts to list what he's doing: working hard and doing "celebrity appearances, 500 quid a time, so...I think I'm doing alright." He giggles again, because he hates Neil. Then he asks how Neil is doing, as if he cares, and he makes a face at the employees when Neil says he's OK. So rude and, really, weird if you didn't know their personal history. Neil, obviously peeved, asks if he's keeping the employees from their work. Oliver is thinking, "YES! Please ask him to leave, pleease!" but since he's off camera, I have no way of verifying that. "No, it's a morale boost. They're loving it, look at their faces!" David says and giggles childishly. The camera pans to show us Keith's blank, slightly puzzled stare and Sheila looking at David blankly, perhaps even a bit annoyed. "I can see that. Don't overexcite them," says Neil sarcastically and leaves. He's a bit of a prick to David in the final scenes, but he's trying to be nice here, and seems genuinely dejected that David still acts like such a jerk to him.

After Neil leaves, David acts like asking how he's doing was so rude: "He knows bloody well how I'm doing! .. I'm lucky." He giggles tensely and Oliver turns away from him. How is David lucky, in any meaning of the word? I guess he means he's a celebrity now and Neil's just a lowly executive, even if it's obvious he doesn't really think that.

A car, I want to say paused because I keep pausing my DVD, parked next to the highway. Inside, David's eating a store-bought sandwich. The interviewer, who's on the backseat, asks him, "Do you resent Neil?" David asks, "The man or the boss?" in a voice that I'm sure he thinks sounds very masculine and deep, even if the question is idiotic - he doesn't even know Neil the man that well, and Neil isn't his boss anymore. "Either," says the interviewer, obviously realizing the question is just evading the point. "Neither. Next," says David and looks over his shoulder as if it's a brilliant comeback to an attacking question. The next question is whether David misses the office environment. "I am in the office environment. If you have a mobile phone" - he takes his phone and shows it to the interviewer without looking at her, holding it at the end of his fingers, thus making it look both like a massive effort and like he's very patient to correct her false, silly assumption that an office environment takes an actual office - "you're in the office environment." Uh, OK. I guess all teenagers are in the office then, and even at home you're in the office if you have a mobile phone. Nevermind that many people don't even have any other phone anymore, it's strictly business with mobiles. Duly noted.

He tells us an example, how he could be "going 70 miles an hour plus..." Then he remembers he's on TV and corrects to the camera: "70 miles an hour tops," which makes it really obvious. Of course he was bragging about driving really fast and talking on the phone because he's that kinda guy. Except when the cops are around. "And I can pull over safely," he continues to lie and claims he could call his secretary - who must be fictional and whose name is Paula - and ask her to fax important papers. What important papers? He sells cleaning equipment! The interviewer, obviously a smart lady, asks him if he has a fax machine in the car. He backpedals that he could find a fax machine and call her, saying, "I'm in the Ramada Inn, Reading, look it up." Not really the same thing, is it David? The interviewer doesn't point that out as David mumbles some words, plays with his tie and then grabs the sandwich again. He takes a big bite, apparently just to stop himself from putting his foot in his mouth again. After all, sandwiches taste better than feet.

Christmas Special, part 4: "Florida"

OK, as usual, I hate the Tim and Dawn stuff, and there's a lot of it in this episode, so I'll just try to not rant too much. This is a very short chapter and I'm going to make a very short commentary on it.

We cut to Florida, outside a big house, next to a swimming pool. Dawn is looking pretty and taking care of a little baby. This is a bit of a trick form GervaisMerchant, I believe, because at a first glance, I thought the baby was hers. The time passed is long enough for Dawn to have given birth, even if it's a little unlikely that she'd do it in Florida. If Dawn and Lee had had a baby, this might make the Tim and Dawn love story impossible at least for many years to come, and Tim would be a home wrecker. But of course this isn't the case, as she'll soon let us know. The baby wriggles in Dawn's arms as she explains that they were supposed to go home after 90 days, but they're "taking an extended holiday". She does check first if this is going out in the US, so we get a genuine documentary feel. I wouldn't say anything incriminating on camera, because people do share files over the internet and rip TV shows, so there's no knowing what the US authorities are going to see.

Dawn says Lee's doing gardening for money and she's taking care of baby Ryan, "this is Jackie's baby." An interviewer asks off camera who Jackie is. "Jackie is Lee's sister, and Gary is her husband. This is their place." It's a cute touch, since the interviewer didn't ask who Gary is, and Dawn didn't mention Gary before, so it's unnecessary to mention that, but it's likely that she would in that situation, because she introduced Jackie's son and Jackie, so she's rounding up the whole family. Ryan is cute and seems about six months old, so he was probably born during their stay. Lee, who at first looked to be sleeping in the sun, tells the camera that they're not paying rent, so they can use all the money they make on themselves. Probably they're not paying taxes either.

Lee says that their situation is "almost as good as Slough." "Definitely," says Dawn, but you can tell she's lying as she soothes baby Ryan. She doesn't seem happy at all; Lee gets to lay about as she takes care of the baby, and this is probably what Lee had planned for the rest of their lives. Also, I'm not sure if I'd let my brother and his fiancé stay at my place rent-free for years on end. It sounds like an uncomfortable arrangement. I'm not surprised she expects them to take care of her son as a kind of rent.

Timterview. Sadly, it's about Dawn. Tim is embarrassed about the last episode where he told her about his feelings, and backpedals now that he misinterpreted things and they're just good friends. For once, there's really nothing quotable or interesting about a Timterview. He makes sure to say that no damage is done and Lee is OK with him. It's pretty obvious that he doesn't feel OK about it, which is why I think they should have left this bit out. It's just rehashing what Tim has already said before. Moving on.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Christmas Specials, part 3: "Back Again"

The office, where life goes on as always - the same employees, the same desks, the same jobs, somewhat newer computers. Still no flat screens though. There are a few thin magazines scattered on the table next to the sofa. They look like old, worn out issues. What a dead environment.

Mel the new receptionist is staring ahead in an i-hate-my-job daze. Then the camera moves behind David "Once the boss, always the boss, no matter what they say" Brent, as he walks into his old office. "Back again," he says to the camera. He stops at Mel's desk, formerly known as Dawn's desk. "A new Dawn," he says, pointing at Mel. "She looks a bit... A younger model though." She doesn't look that much like Dawn, they just have the same color of hair. Shows how much David cared about Dawn. "I'm not a model," Mel says. Eh. "Not as bright as Dawn," David mutters under his breath. As usual, he seems to think he can say things to the camera that he doesn't want others to hear.

David goes over to Tim, who doesn't look all too excited to see him. He forces a chuckle and slaps David's hand, because David wants him to. "Timbo! Timbeer!" David mugs for the camera. The extras contain many takes of this one as Ricky Gervais kept improvising to make Martin Freeman crack up. My favorite was "Bishop Musharewa!" that somehow came from Tim Canterbury -> Archbishop of Canterbury. I love how his mind works, but wouldn't like to work with him.

David asks how things are going, and Tim has no response except "Same old", because his life is at a point where nothing new ever happens. David tries to show how he still knows the biz by looking at Tim's screen (rude!), and noting there's a familiar name. "Remember what I told you about Trevor? You can tell when he's lying. His lips move!" David grins at the camera as if this is a completely original joke - he comes up with his own material, wank you very much! - and Tim courtesy-laughs. David ruffles Tim's hair as if he's five and walks on towards his old office. Tim gives the camera the cutest eyebrow lift/smile that seems to say "that guy's a jerk but he thinks we're friends and I'm not going to show my true feelings as long as the camera is on me". He'd be great in a kids' show. That expression is adorable. Off-camera, David hollers, "Keenan in?" but he goes in anyway, so Tim just goes, "Huh?" and turns back to his desk.

David sits in his old chair as if he owns the place, and looks into the desktop drawers. I italize that because that is one big no-no in my book. Do not look into other people's drawers. It's an invasion of privacy. But of course, David thinks the room is still his. He triumphantly picks up a stamper and says, "Well, I bought that! From Hartford's." Yeah, that really stamps it as your room. That's when Gareth comes in. They engage in this awesome dialogue that shows their relationship change over the years. Gareth ranks higher now and shows it.

David: "Here he is! The feller who nicked me job!"
Gareth: "Didn't nick it."
David: "Nah. I didn't want it anymore."
Gareth: "Yeah, you did, you begged for it back!"
David: "No I didn't, shut up! Dunno what you're talking about. "
Gareth: "He's here more often now that he doesn't work here than he was when he did work here."
David: "Haha, exaggerating."

It's so clear from this bit of dialogue that their pecking order is now different. Gareth seems to have gained more confidence, even if he seems to use it to put David down. It's like he used to be bullied, now he's got power and he's the bully, which shows what kind of person he really is. David tries to pretend that he's just kidding, but you can tell who's got the upper hand. David claims he only came in because of the viewers. Gareth says, half-jokingly, "Bit disruptive..." David, turning up his grin a notch because he's getting offended, says, "It's not disruptive! It's good for them" - pointing at the camera - "so it's good for the company, so it should be good for you." Gareth, feeling so embarrassed that he can't even look at David, chuckles uneasily: "Always nice to see you..." What does it tell you if he's looking down and says it for the second time? Gareth repeats to the camera that David is there "an awful lot", interesting choice of words. David claims that he's still welcome there, and Gareth suggests that he call them first. "I'm not gonna call ahead, you're not a doctor! When you're a doctor I'll make an appointment," David says and laughs even if that makes absolutely no sense, and it's obvious that he's making desperate jokes to make it all appear jovial, when in fact Gareth is telling him that he's not all that welcome here anymore. Gareth laughs politely and admits he's not a doctor. David, who always takes the joke too far, says, "Six years of medical training - he's got one O level." I suppose that's like the British SAT's? Gareth jokes that he'll lock the door, but David says, "I'll still get in, you'll see", and giggles desperately. To make it even more awkward, Gareth repeats the part about calling ahead, and David again refuses.

Gareth says he only has ten minutes for David and that he's busy, but David refuses to believe him. "I know how many hours you do a week! He seems to forget that," he says to the camera. Well, since his idea of work is basically talking to the employees about anything (and usually not paper), or sitting in his office writing "poems" and game show ideas, it's understandable that he thinks so. On the other hand, he could just be desperate and purposely keep missing Gareth's not entirely subtle ways of brushing him off. He giggles some more and waves his arm at Gareth as if he's trying to hit him, and Gareth makes a bit of a flinch, which shows he's nervous about David's reaction. Then he repeats, once again, that David should call ahead. "I'm not gonna call ahead!" David says, now angrily. It's a reasonable request, and it's really jerkwardly to not comply. I still feel sorry for him though. He's an idiot, but he suffers for it himself.

Gareth interview. He says he learned from David and the mistakes he made: "He used humor, where I use discipline. And I learned that nobody respected him." It's true, but nobody respects Gareth either, and I have a feeling they hate him even more than they did David, because he's a pedantic blowhard, as we will soon see. He wouldn't be Gareth if his mind didn't immediately jump to war. He says you can't use humor there, because men will not follow you if you say, " 'Come with me lads, I'll tell you a joke.' " Hee. Maybe you should tell the joke instead of promising to tell it. Actually, in a war situation, humor might be a lifesaver (well, not literally) to many soldiers. Hasn't he ever seen Good Morning, Vietnam? "It's a direct order: 'Come. With. Me.' And they'll go, 'Yes, he has leadership skills, let's all follow him to our certain deaths.' "

Heee. I love how he assumes that direct orders make people basically want to die. His naïve wide-eyed stare at the camera is even more amusing when you pause there. I do wonder what Gareth would do in an actual war situation. "And also, if you're laughing in the jungle, you give away your position to the enemy," he adds as if that's necessary to know in an office setting. He really provides vital insights to why David got fired.

Tim sits at his computer, and Anne the annoyance sits at hers. She holds up a piece of paper to Tim, while working at her computer still, and asks if he wants her to send it. Tim says yes, looking baffled. "Do you want me to send it as it is? It's got your signature and everything." Tim says it's alright. Anne says sure it is, "cos it is 2002." Ugh. We've probably all worked with someone like this (personally I remember studying with someone who enjoyed correcting any mistakes I made in pair work at language class), and it's just the rudest, most obnoxious way of pointing out a mistake. I'd almost ask what Anne has against Tim, but she's just being Anne - she doesn't give a shit about anyone but herself, her son and her husband. Tim sheepishly apologizes and promises to fix it. I wish he stood up for himself a little more. I do like his character, but I'd like him better with a little more backbone. Not that I'd do any differently in that situation though, so I should just commend the scene's realism. In the end, maybe I'd like Tim less if he were rude back. It's funny how we're wired to always dream of a revenge and hate ourselves when we actually get it. And also hate characters who get their revenge, because that makes them the bad guys. OK, that's enough philosophy for one paragraph.

Tim, looking years older, asks Anne if she wouldn't like it better over there with the number bods. She says she needs her space, and couldn't breathe there. "That Big Keith, he's grotesque, isn't he?" Ah - are the writers saying that people who criticize fat people for taking up space are asses? Could they be? I love them even more if they are. Anne babbles about how she needs space, obviously without getting the hint that Tim doesn't like her. Tim stares ahead with empty eyes. And we cut to who she's probably thinking of, but that's in another chapter.