Author Topic: The Office Christmas finale  (Read 4821 times)

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

  • a hopeless vanity... a stupefyingly futile conceit
The Office Christmas finale
« on: July 30, 2020, 11:19:41 AM »
Yeah, I know, there are some of you who think that Brent telling Finchy to fuck off is unrealistic. Finchy, while momentarily stunned, would almost certainly harangue Brent afterwards, but it's a genuinely lovely and entirely earned moment of fleeting triumph. We don't need to see the outcome.

Tim and Dawn getting together, that's how to write a "will they, won't they" arc. Sentimental? Sod off, it's beautiful when they kiss and wander off, dazed, towards an uncertain future.

But that's not why I've started this thread.

I've just watched the final episode again, and David is still an utter tit during his date with the nice, attractive woman. She appears to be entirely normal, why would she be attracted to him? The moment of quiet redemption is supposedly when she says to him (I'm paraphrasing), "Stop caring about what people think of you, just take the money and run."  Brent drops his guard for a moment and looks reflective. He's a changed man.

Which is a nice idea in theory - a sympathetic person finally tells David to stop trying so hard - but they don't actually build towards that moment at all. David is boastful, self-centred and deluded during their conversation, just as he always is, but she apparently comes to the conclusion that he's a nice man underneath it all. Well you wouldn't, would you? Ten minutes in that man's company and you'd be thinking of your excuses.

I do love The Office, but Brent's redemption should've ended with the Finchy moment. There's just no way that woman would give him the time of day.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2020, 11:23:08 AM »
He’s not though, is he? He points out to her that his gigs are ridiculous because nobody knows who he is and just take the piss. To which she makes the (good) point that he still gets paid, so it’s not such a problem. It’s his first moment of self-awareness, basically.

If I’m remembering right

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

  • a hopeless vanity... a stupefyingly futile conceit
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2020, 11:31:53 AM »
He does admit that, yes, but up until that point he's still being his usual boastful self. I know her comment deflates that, she says it to comfort him, but it feels rushed. It's a writing masterclass compared to everything else Gervais has ever done, but watching it again I was struck by the fact that David is still an utter pillock throughout those final episodes.

Mind you, there is that rather poignant scene of him getting pissed in a travelodge, which isn't played for laughs at all. That does provide some insight into how depressed he is.

I dunno, it just didn't work for me on the rewatch. She's presented as an entirely normal person who somehow, immediately, understands the essential tragedy of David Brent. Maybe she watched the (fictional version) of The Office and wanted to reach out to him. Like those people who write to imprisoned serial killers.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2020, 11:33:03 AM »
Oh don't get me started...

Thomas

  • please describe an encounter with a squirrel
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2020, 11:37:13 AM »
Can't comment until I've seen the true conclusion of Brent's arc in Life on the Road. Which I'm saving. Forever.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

  • a hopeless vanity... a stupefyingly futile conceit
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2020, 11:38:13 AM »
Oh don't get me started...

Hence why I specifically referred to David's date. We know what you think about The Finchy Incident.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

  • a hopeless vanity... a stupefyingly futile conceit
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2020, 11:40:31 AM »
Can't comment until I've seen the true conclusion of Brent's arc in Life on the Road. Which I'm saving. Forever.

Non-canon. Pure fan-fic.

PowerButchi

  • The Bronzed Adrian Adonis
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2020, 11:44:45 AM »
Finchy would have destroyed Brent. I've seen it happen in pubs the length and breadth of the country.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2020, 11:48:39 AM »
I look at The Office Christmas Special as being like Return of the Jedi or Return of the King in that while it's overall brilliant, some of the seeds of rot that would later plague Gervais' writing is planted here, in the same way that the seeds of poor decisions and bad filmmaking that George Lucas and Peter Jackson would later be known for are planted in RotK and RotJ. These seeds would later make The Hobbit and The Prequel trilogy messes, while overall being great. (Ewoks and really rubbish CGI in parts)

Brent's redemption does come too easily and you can see Gervais becoming too sympathetic to Brent, who is a villain up until that point, albeit a pitiable one. Perhaps because he started to become very Brent like after this point. Some of the melodrama that would plague After Life and Derek are set in here.

dr beat

  • #TeamColourfield
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2020, 11:52:08 AM »
I think the two things - Brent's date and then telling Finchy to eff off - are very much interlinked.  IIRC we see the date conclude quite pleasantly, and maybe Brent is aware of that but also thought about some of the stuff she's said.  His response to Finchy could come from both those things, he's having a moment of self-awareness but also angry about having a nice evening spoiled.

Also Finchy and Neil say something really nasty about his date don't they? Such that there's no way for Finchy to double down after what he's already said about her - nothing left in the 'banter' tank.

Something else, in the final shot where they are all taking a photo, Brent is still dicking about seeking attention, doing a Frank Spencer impression, but I've always though he seems that little more comfortable in his own skin.  Could just be me though.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2020, 11:54:14 AM »
TEAM FINCHY

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2020, 11:54:37 AM »
I remember being quite surprised watching the commentary and Merchant casually pointing out that they had to change Neil’s character in order to make David more sympathetic. I had always viewed this as a huge flaw and was surprised that they had did it so nonchalantly. Wouldn’t it be considered a standard example of bad writing? To just change a character to further a plot?

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2020, 11:59:15 AM »
Non-canon. Pure fan-fic.

I do like that in interviews from the time Stephen Merchant would explain it was 100% not an Office film, Gervais could only use the character of Brent as it "pre-existed" the TV series. Lends the film an air of those BBV spin-off videos from Doctor Who, but without anywhere near the creativity those had.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2020, 12:02:41 PM »
I remember being quite surprised watching the commentary and Merchant casually pointing out that they had to change Neil’s character in order to make David more sympathetic. I had always viewed this as a huge flaw and was surprised that they had did it so nonchalantly. Wouldn’t it be considered a standard example of bad writing? To just change a character to further a plot?

I'm not sure it is. Once you realise Neil is a close mate of Finchy, it doesn't seem a massive stretch that he'd be a complete prick in a social situation.

Thomas

  • please describe an encounter with a squirrel
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2020, 12:04:21 PM »
Especially as Neil will have had a couple of smug years being recognised as the handsome boss bloke from that documentary series.

dr beat

  • #TeamColourfield
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2020, 12:08:19 PM »
Yes I think Neil is as desperately eager to please as Brent (such as the French cricket game).  Neil can do charm, but I find him still a little cold and contrived with it, in the way that politicians can be. Although to be fair Neil is much more competent at his job than Brent.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2020, 12:10:08 PM »
 No, but Neil was always slimy but ultimately decent. Even in his bollocking of David he says something like, ‘Listen, you’re a good guy..’ Classic managerial bollocks but underpinned by a human understanding. Laughing along like a right fucking lad at Finchy’s crass sexism seems out of character, whatever his inner thinking.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2020, 12:11:53 PM »
Lends the film an air of those BBV spin-off videos from Doctor Who, but without anywhere near the creativity those had.

Ouch. Brutal!

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2020, 12:12:04 PM »
There's just no way that woman would give him the time of day.

Brent's a twat, but he was never a cunt. Finchy's a cunt. Neil and Tim could be cunts.

Brent just wanted to be liked and maybe his date could see the nice vulnerable guy beneath the twatty exterior.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2020, 12:15:23 PM »
Brent happily joins in when Finchy’s belittling others. He’s only not a cunt because he doesn’t have the guts to be one.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2020, 12:18:02 PM »
Ouch. Brutal!

Heh not as brutal as watching Gervais sing his 8th consecutive ironic song. Give me a home video-quality Sontaran staggering along the Thames over Brent: The Movie any day of the week.

Jumblegraws

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Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2020, 12:23:32 PM »
No, but Neil was always slimy but ultimately decent. Even in his bollocking of David he says something like, ‘Listen, you’re a good guy..’ Classic managerial bollocks but underpinned by a human understanding. Laughing along like a right fucking lad at Finchy’s crass sexism seems out of character, whatever his inner thinking.
I’ve made this point before on threads where the character’s discussed, but when Neil makes his introductory speech to the Slough lot following the Merger, he makes a crass, homophobic joke about Brent that I consider as bad as anything the latter ever said, but it gets a laugh and no call-out. Point being that that I’ve always felt Neil embodied the casual lookism that privileges conventionally attractive people with a halo effect, and that Neil laughing at Finchy’s nasty, misogynist joke in the finale was consistent with this. Although if Merchant copped to changing Neil’s character profile for the specials then that fucks up my interpretation a bit.

dr beat

  • #TeamColourfield
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2020, 12:44:43 PM »
Neil's a decent manager and treats his staff well, but he's a climber within the company and aware of who to keep on the right side of - he can probably see its probably best to keep Finchy onside even if the latter is not at his level - he doesn't want to lose that sense of authority that Brent did in the way he toadied up to Finchy.

Or - its a complex game but Neil plays it better than Brent.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2020, 12:56:17 PM »
Hence why I specifically referred to David's date. We know what you think about The Finchy Incident.

Ah, but I have opinions on that too, you know.

Cuellar

  • Taxes, they'll be lower...son
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2020, 01:02:12 PM »
I’ve made this point before on threads where the character’s discussed, but when Neil makes his introductory speech to the Slough lot following the Merger, he makes a crass, homophobic joke about Brent that I consider as bad as anything the latter ever said, but it gets a laugh and no call-out. Point being that that I’ve always felt Neil embodied the casual lookism that privileges conventionally attractive people with a halo effect, and that Neil laughing at Finchy’s nasty, misogynist joke in the finale was consistent with this. Although if Merchant copped to changing Neil’s character profile for the specials then that fucks up my interpretation a bit.

Crass homophobic banter is the sign of a #legend in The Office though (Tim and Dawn to Gareth, e.g.)

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2020, 01:22:14 PM »
I remember making my parents watch this at Xmas 2003.My mum fell asleep after ten minutes. It was the scene where Brent is begging to keep his job that left my father nonplussed. "This is really upsetting. Can't we watch Morecambe & Wise instead?"

Jumblegraws

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Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2020, 01:28:06 PM »
Crass homophobic banter is the sign of a #legend in The Office though (Tim and Dawn to Gareth, e.g.)
This is true, although Gareth does call them out on it (albeit not in an especially pro-LGBT tone), which incidentally I think is the most underrated moment in the finale.
I remember making my parents watch this at Xmas 2003.My mum fell asleep after ten minutes. It was the scene where Brent is begging to keep his job that left my father nonplussed. "This is really upsetting. Can't we watch Morecambe & Wise instead?"
That’s in the final episode of the series proper rather than the Xmas specials.

Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2020, 01:41:58 PM »
Neil mock-chastises Finch for 'stealing all his best jokes' which Finch grudgingly acknowledges with 'I borrow them....'. As Stewart Lee might say, Finch doesn't strike you as someone troubled by duality of meaning. If an incorrigible bigot can appropriate your jokes at face value, it's probably time to hold the mirror up to thyself.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • Well ...enjoy your lifetime supply of virginity!
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2020, 01:50:01 PM »
This is true, although Gareth does call them out on it (albeit not in an especially pro-LGBT tone), which incidentally I think is the most underrated moment in the finale.That’s in the final episode of the series proper rather than the Xmas specials.

There's also a nice little scene in the series proper where Jasper Carrot Features the Receptionist calls out  Tim for being a fully grown adult getting off  on making Gareth say things that make him sound like a gayer, showing that she's not just a nasty cunt ( As she and Tim both are most of the time), but realises that there has to be a time when enough is enough.
Otherwise, by and large, " The Office" remains a load of badly written old bollocks full of absolute cunts.

Uncle TechTip

  • You won, get over it
Re: The Office Christmas finale
« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2020, 01:52:02 PM »
This has been discussed before, but how much of Brent's bravado comes from being in front of the camera, and where is this line drawn where the documentary cameras are no longer rolling? Is the Finchy scene meant to be on camera? How much of the performance is Brent's real personality?

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