Alex Casey argues why The Office Christmas special is the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. //
Check the TV guide this time of year and you’ll see the likes of Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas and something terrible called Gangsta Granny. So often Christmas specials turn out to be the TV equivalent of a Kmart Christmas cracker – novelty, exciting for a second, but you’re quickly left with nothing but a whole lot of rubbish and a pile of bad jokes.
I strongly believe that The Office Christmas special bucks this trend, truly embodying the heartwarming spirit of Christmas to a tee, as well as wrapping up the Wernham Hogg story perfectly. The two part, feature-length event packs in more anguish, laughter and summer sprinkler-level tears than anything I have ever seen on TV before. Or even in a cinema. And that’s film. Fancy film.
The Office special takes place three years after the documentary crew have finished filming the original series, and they return to Slough to check up on all our old favourites. David Brent, after losing his job, is now a ridiculous door-to-door salesman (the moment where he asks “who does your tampons” is still a joke for the ages). His job has since been taken by Gareth who, in an exciting turn of events, is now the general manager. Timothy Canterbury remains much the same: same desk, same eyebrow-raised glances to camera, and same heartbreaking pining for Dawn, the lost love of his life. The crew also catch up with Dawn and Leigh, who are tanned as hell and overstaying in Florida.
Just like every Christmas, I have kept up my tradition of watching these specials alone late at night (so nobody sees the tears). This time round, I compiled a small bundle of metaphorical gifts that The Office can give you this Christmas.
These are my favourite moments to unwrap every time I watch because, unlike with dowdy old Christmas, they never disappoint.
David Brent’s Debut Single
Give yourself a funnier gift than any sort of novelty toilet book this Christmas. After coming into money from an out of court settlement, David starts his own record label (Juxtaposition records) and releases a single. The growling cover of Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” features an accompanying music video that will keep you laughing well into the new year. Wearing a floaty white pyjama/kaftan ensemble, Brent slowly walks through a sparse studio of chiffon breezy curtains and framed stock images of his fictional lover. From the release of a white dove to the subtle touch of eyeliner – there’s so much (maybe too much) vivid imagery to enjoy. See for yourself:
A Killer Christmas Playlist
Talking of music, the soundtrack to the specials is perfect, roping in all the 80s/90s Christmas pop hits and much much more. Being a mockumentary, there is little opportunity to include music, so the Christmas party is one of the only instances in the whole series where Merchant and Gervais get to flex their music muscles from back in the old XFM days. It’s a great mix of cheap Christmas radio hits and pop from the 80s and 90s. In the director’s commentary, they both agree that Take That’s song “Back for Good” is one of the best pop songs ever made. After watching this, I have to agree. I obviously included “Get the Party Started” in the playlist because of this. I’m into Pink.
Tim and Dawn’s Christmas Kiss
I can’t imagine that most office party kisses are as well-executed as this. The perfect ending to the Tim and Dawn will-they-won’t-they, we see a tear-stained Dawn rush back through the door as she realises that Tim is clearly the dream choice for her. Everything about this should send you straight to romance-city this Christmas. The lights, the music, oh man. Now THIS is how you use diegetic soundtrack.
“All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
Sorry, I am essentially a puddle of pine tree sap at this stage.
David Brent Stands Up To Finchy
Christmas is not only a time for togetherness, but a time to reflect upon the people in your life. For David, this comes in a moment of realisation that his long-time best mate is actually the worst guy in the whole world. He tells Chris Finch (and Neil by proxy) to “fuck off” after saying something awful about his date. It’s an incredible moment for Brent, finally rising above years of pandering to Finch’s awful anecdotes about threesomes and annoying pub quiz sportsmanship. We see, just for a rare moment, that there could be real hope for Brent, and that he does have some sort of moral compass after all. It’s a Christmas miracle.