David Brent Returns: Ricky Gervais Brings Back ‘The Office”s Clueless Leader

Most Americans associate “The Office” with the NBC hit that came to an end last year. A lot of us are aware that it was a remake of the hit British version that starred Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman, the latter starred in the TV series “Fargo” that I’ve already written too much about in the past several months. It went for two seasons and a Christmas special, a formula Gervais and “Office” co-creator Stephen Merchant would use for their follow-up program, “Extras!”

David Brent was Gervais’ thus-far more revered creation from “The Office.” It formed the basic formula that made the U.S.’s Michael Scott (though Steve Carell would dramatically alter the character’s source and make it his own).  Though in Carell’s final season, these two awkward managers briefly meet.

Brent was socially awkward, often awful and self-delusional. In an episode, he tells his receptionist she’s fired in a poorly planned and executed joke. She breaks down into tears as he tells her they have to let her go for stealing post-it notes, then gets really cringe-worthy when he explains it’s a joke. This scene represents what I loved about the British version and Brent’s character. It’s very dark humor. Twisted, awkward and started a trend which, despite the American version’s shaky first season (they smartly decided to go in their own direction rather than copy the original) made sit-coms work with out canned laugh tracks or studio audiences.

But enough has been written about the show itself. This week, Gervais announced he will be reprising the character (though he already has this year with a charity event and some YouTube videos) with a movie. It apparently follows Brent, more than a decade after he was fired from Wernham Hogg, on a musical trek in a last ditch effort to create a music career. It’s titled “Life On The Road.”

I am on the fence with bringing back Brent in a major way. I love the original series, and I love it’s U.S. counterpart. And we got the resolution of the series in the Christmas Special. So, going back to this much cherished well has rubbed some the wrong way. It’s not like Gervais has been stuck since “The Office” ended. His other projects, “Extras!” “The Invention of Lying” and “Derek” have been great. So why go back to his break out character?

I can only speculate. To me, to go back to this world, I would  like to see where the others from the series are now. Where are Tim and Dawn after all these years? Seriously, if Martin Freeman is not going to be in this, I will be pretty angry. Brent is not a character I can watch solely for an hour and a half. His overbearing attitude and mindlessness was complemented by Tim bringing sanity to the table for balance.

But it will be interesting to see what comes of this. It’s kind of a bold move to pull off and not mess it up. We shall see.

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