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September 1, 2015

The Office (BBC): Episode 3

by Annie Wu, posted Jun 14th 2006 9:01AM
The Office
(S01E03) The thing I really like about this episode is how all the events leave a terrible taste in my mouth. It's bitter and frustrating and everything good that happens dies a slow and painful death. Brilliant.

The episode starts off with Tim explaining to the camera that it's his 30th birthday and his mother woke him up (I love that he lives with his parents) to give him his present, HatFM, a radio to wear on the head! Meanwhile, David's all excited for the annual pub quiz (it's like Trivial Pursuit with a lot of people... at a bar) and calls up his quiz buddy, Chris Finch (the guy that indirectly made an appearance in the last episode). Finch tells him a joke over the phone, which Brent simultaneously repeats for the cameras. "What's black and slides down Nelson's Column?" Brent repeats, before pausing for an answer. "Winnie Mandela?..."

When David hears about Tim's birthday, he comes over and gives him a fantastic little speech about the big 30 and taking care of one's parents. "Both of mine are dead," David says, as Tim nods solemnly. "... Well. Dad isn't dead. He's in a home. So... good as." He even ends his speech with "Anyway, he is a vegetable now, and that's something we've all got to look forward to... So... Happy Birthday!" HA! I think this moment is only topped by Gareth demonstrating what it would be like to have a sniper blow your brains out.

Later, Dawn and her fiance, Lee, give Tim a present as well: a giant, inflatable cock. The sort of thing you can find at Spencer's Gifts. David and Gareth immediately come over and start playing with it, trying to do Whose Line Is It Anyway? prop gags (David puts the toy on his face and throws a shout-out to Doctor Who... "Ex-speeerm-inate!"). Tim makes a great face when the camera quickly swings to him during David and Gareth's fun-time. Throws me into giggles absolutely every time.

Everyone's still going about their business when David comes over to Ricky and some other employees to make sure they're going to the pub quiz. Ricky makes a side comment about how he has experience 'cause he was on the game show, Blockbusters. David immediately feels the need to challenge him (probably because his ego is still inflated from that time that he correctly answered that Dr. Spock was half-human, half-Vulcan, and not a full Vulcan) and sparks a Dostoevsky trivia war with an awkward exchange of questions. It's hysterical how David rushes to his office, flips through a few books for some quick facts, and walks over like a bad-ass to Ricky to show off how he knows Dostoevsky's birthday and stuff. His desperation to be held in high regard is so ridiculously glorious. When Chris shows up (and ends up being a bigger jerk than David is), he confronts Ricky for being a know-it-all.

Tim and Dawn have a great moment when they bug Gareth while he's trying to compile questions for the quiz (he's the quiz master). Tim asks him a few questions about the army, throwing homosexual innuendos around the oblivious Gareth. Dawn giggles all the way through but finally asks, "How old are you? 30? And you're getting off on pretending Gareth's gay." There's a pause, and Gareth says, "I think she's been on the wacky-backy..." Tim makes yet another hilarious face when he realizes the extent Gareth's gullibility. Still makes me laugh.

At the quiz, there are some amazing team names. Here's a sample of some old and new names: The Dead Parrots (Chris and David), The Tits (Tim and Ricky), Malcolm and Dennis (Malcolm and... Dennis), Universally Challenged, Carpetmunchers, Dr. Wankenstein, and, my personal favorite, Stephen Hawking's Football Boots.

David gets a phone call in the middle of the quiz, and when he sneaks away to answer it, he cheats and asks the person (I think it was one of his dad's caretakers) one of the quiz questions he couldn't get. In the deleted scenes, we see that Tim cheated and read the questions/answers aloud while Gareth reprimanded David for cheating. I'm glad they didn't include that in the actual episode because that would have really ruined Tim's "good guy" position.

Anyway, it comes down to The Dead Parrots and The Tits and they settle it with a sudden death question about Shakespeare. Ricky answers correctly and Chris and David are furious (Chris calls David a waste of space and brings up the time he answered that the leader of Cuba was Fray Bentos). At the pub, they challenge them to an informal game of throwing as "the real contest". Chris brags about his throwing abilities (which Gareth backs up by yelling at Chris, "He's thrown a kettle over a pub! What've you done?!"). Ricky finds this hilarious and agrees, so David and Chris (with the help of Lee) steal one of Tim's shoes to throw over the pub. Of course, Chris makes it over and makes a huge deal out of it, rubbing it in Tim and Ricky's faces. Everyone, slightly drunk, stumbles back into the pub, leaving Tim outside with one shoe on. Dawn tries to come over and see if he's alright but Lee pulls her away. Tim stands there, looking disheveled with his HatFM, and finally hobbles his way to the back of the pub to get his shoe. And, the final moment -- I love this -- is Gareth running over, during this melancholic moment, and attempting to kick the inflatable cock over the wall. He fails, awkwardly glances at Tim and the camera, and runs off.

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James Kew

The US had University Challenge first, although not under that name -- it's called College Bowl. (ISTR that there's an acknowlegement at the end of the credits of University Challenge.)

I think Chris Finch is the Office character that makes me cringe hardest of all; Brent's a buffoon, but Finchy is a swaggering blowhard with a really nasty streak that comes out when he's feeling insecure.

June 14 2006 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know if there has ever been a version of it in the US but just so people know, the team name "Universally Challenged" is an allusion to the BBC quiz "University Challenge" in which the teams are made up of students representing their various Universities. It's actually full of proper, hard questions as opposed to just being a Game Show.

June 14 2006 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Kew

I think Brent is just a funnier name than David -- they play this up a bit when he refers to himself in third person during his interview with Inside Paper: "Brent quipped..."

I'd always assumed that quiz night was held in the warehouse -- it certainly doesn't look like a pub.

June 14 2006 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Prescott

Not confusing just curious. Actually the only place it's confusing is when you say, "Ricky gets a phone call in the middle of the quiz, and when he sneaks away to answer it, he cheats and asks the person (I think it was one of his dad's caretakers) one of the quiz questions he couldn't get." By Ricky I assume you mean Ricky Gervais, not the character Ricky because it is the character of David Brent who recieves the phone call and cheats during the quiz. Am I annoying you yet? I know this show by heart, it's ridiculous.

June 14 2006 at 12:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annie W.

That's just a really bad habit of mine. I know he's David Brent. I'll call him David from now on if it's confusing.

June 14 2006 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Prescott

should have read "continue to call" not "all" these comments need an edit function.

June 14 2006 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Prescott

question...you call everyone by their first names except david who you continue to all brent. is this on purpose or do you really think his first name is brent?

June 14 2006 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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