I went to see David Brent: Life On The Road the other night. A major disappointment, the film didn’t really go anywhere past its initial premise. In fact, it would have made a much better hour-long TV special.
Even since The Office finished after two series, Ricky Gervais has claimed to be following John Cleese’s model with Fawlty Towers: two six-episode runs, leaving the public wanting more, but killing the show off before standards start to slip. A couple of lukewarm Office Christmas specials muddied the water slightly, but it did look like Gervais had left the show behind ever since.
Unfortunately, the latest appearance of David Brent is a failed attempt to hark back to the early 2000s success of The Office. The absence of Gervais’ writing partner Stephen Merchant could be to blame, but I just think too much water has passed under the bridge. The mockumentary concept – never original, merely forgotten by the time The Office first aired – is now a staple of television comedy. It’s so ubiquitous that shows don’t even bother alluding to the format anymore (see Parks & Recreation, Modern Family), and audiences don’t even question the way that talking head interviews to camera break up the narrative.
The most annoying aspect of Life On The Road was Brent’s high-pitched laugh – a sound used sparingly in the television show, but rolled out seemingly after every other line in the film. Still, the damage that Gervais has done to the Brent legend is nothing next to the awfulness of John Cleese recently rolling out Basil Fawlty for a Specsavers commercial. How the mighty have fallen…
Hit: “Mrs. Richards” Scene 2: Mrs. Richards’ Room
Hidden Gem: “Hotel Inspectors” Scene 2: Dining Room At Lunchtime