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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Office: Season Two (2005-2006)

"Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty.In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is myloyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty morehighly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most."
- Dwight (Rainn Wilson)

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: September 28, 2006

Stars: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson
Other Stars: B.J. Novak, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, LeslieDavid Baker, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Kate Flannery, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, David Denman, Melora Hardin, AmyAdams
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sexual references)
Run Time: Approx. 477 min.
Release Date: September 12, 2006
UPC: 025193037824
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-B+ A-

DVD Review

The Peter Principle: "In a hierarchy, every employee tendsto rise to his level of incompetence."

I think I'm supposed to start off this review by talking about the British sit-com that inspired the American series TheOffice, but there's really no point anymore. Though they share aconcept—a faux-documentary about office drones and theirsemi-competent middle-manager working at a paper company—they'redifferent beasts at this point. In 14-odd episodes, the Britishseries, created by and starring Ricky Gervais, created a near-perfectmix of pathos and the painfully funny. The American version, whichhas already aired 30 episodes, is broader is some ways, richer inothers, and certainly as hilarious and endearing. Generally, if youlike one, you'll like the other; let's just leave it at that.

In Season Two, after a shaky, mid-season freshman year debut, the American takereally hits the ground running. Once again, we're introduced toMichael Scott (Steve Carrell), who is supposed to be managing theoffice for paper supply company Dunder-Mifflin, but seems to spendmost of his time trying to be a best friend to his employees, unawarethat the last guy a cubical denizen wants hanging around him is hisboss. Episodes generally focus on one of Michael's ill advisedattempts to bond with his underlings, often causing embarrassment andbitter resentment in the process (a good example: CrisisManagement, in which Michael's attempt to get grievances betweenco-workers out in the open succeeds at making everyone miserable).

With the luxury of 22 episodes to play with, Season Two delves deeperinto the lives of other Dunder-Mifflin workers. We already know someof them: Jim (John Krasinski), the sweet and funny salesmanharboring a crush on his best friend, engaged receptionist Pam (JennaFischer); Dwight (Rainn Wilson), the anti-social suck-up with anoff-putting competitive drive and a frightening loyalty to Michael("I'm like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like... Mozart. You try andhurt Mozart, you're going to get a bullet in your head, courtesy ofButch Cassidy."). But this season, we also see more of chattyairhead Kelly (Mindy Kaling), morose HR rep Toby (Paul Lieberstein),humorless Stanley (Leslie David Baker), and friendly, awkward Phyllis(Phyllis Smith). We find out that Meredith (Kate Flannery) is anexhibitionist as well as an alcoholic, that Kevin (Brian Baumgartner)thinks his 100 I.Q. makes him a genius, and that no-nonsense,kitten-loving conservative Angela (Angela Kinsey) does indeed let herhair down once in a while. And then there's Michael's strangeobsession with mortified temp Ryan (B.J. Novak), who would probablyprefer his boss not proclaim him the sexiest person at Dunder-Mifflin.

This is technically a sit-com, but it never feels staged or stiff.The humor has a natural, improvised quality, and there aren't reallyjokes so much as moments—this dry, deapan style is either yourthing or it isn't, but it's a biting satire of corporate drudgery at its best. Anyone who hasever trudged off to an unfulfilling job will recognize thesecharacters, this workplace dynamic. Season Two gets a lot of mileageout of the office atmosphere, with standout episodes involving aChristmas gift exchange, a mandatory awards ceremony, performancereviews, and Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

Through it all, the writing staff (which incidentally includes morethan a few of the actors) manages to weave in soap opera elements thatadd depth and humanity to the characters, who might otherwise boarderon caricatures (even Dwight, unhinged and unreal, has a few momentsof sanity). Of course, the one that hooks most people is theinter-office unrequited love between Jim and Pam, their every sharedglance and inside joke made awkward by the frequent reappearances ofPam's doltish fiancé Roy (David Denman). The way their romanceis metered out throughout the year is pretty perfect—they rarelytake center stage, but when they do, it's never less than satisfying(and a little maddening).

But it's important not to discount Carrell, who really is the center ofthe show, despite the fact that Michael is sort of an insensitiveboob. He may be a bad boss, but it's the fact that he's out theretrying to be the best bad boss he can be that gives the show itsbiting wit, and also its beating heart. He cares about his employees(well, maybe only because he wants to be liked), and that's whywatching him screw up is never quite as hard as it should be.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The show is shot in HD, and it looks great on DVD—seeing it thisway after getting used to fuzzy TiVo is actually a little jarring.Nevertheless, it has a bright, natural look, with visuals that neverlive down to the documentary premise. Detail is excellent; digitalblockiness is absent.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 mix is pretty standard, front-heavy stuff, but the dialoguecomes through loud and clear and the surrounds contribute a bit of officeatmosphere.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 88 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
19 TV Spots/Teasers
22 Deleted Scenes
10 Feature/Episode commentaries by cast and crew
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag reel
  2. Webisodes
  3. Olympics promos
Extras Review: Universal isn't generally my favorite studio when it comes to TV onDVD, but they deserve praise for their work on TheOffice—from the slick packaging to the variety and quality ofextras, this is one of the best releases of the year.

Commentary fans can get their fix with tracks on 10 episodes,including the momentous season finale. All of them are fairly lightand fun, providing a nice behind-the-scenes peek at how the show isassembled. Just about every actor, writer, and director makes anappearance, as does executive producer Greg Daniels. Star Steve Carrellisn't around, but I can forgive him, because I believe he filmed twomovies in the time it took me to write this paragraph.

Each disc also includes a surprising number of deleted scenes for eachand every episode. The amount of material here—additionalinterviews, extended subplots, jokes that don't quite work, jokes thatdo but must have been cut for time—is really astounding. Alltold, there's well over two hours of it, enough to make up five or sixadditional episodes. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to place in context, as it all just plays in an unedited reel, butconsidering the disjointed nature of the narratives in general, itisn't really a problem.

Disc 3 features Michael's "The Faces of Scranton" video, snippets ofwhich were shown in Valentine's Day. It's somehow even morepathetic in its extended form, Michael's desperate need to be liked byothers so clearly on display. Other joke videos, such as the weddingaudition tape for Kevin's band, Scrantonicity, are sadly nowhereto be found.

A whole bunch of extra stuff is loaded onto Disc 4. There are 19 fakepublic service announcements in the style of NBC's "The More You Know"ads, a handful by each of the major characters. All run less than 20seconds; some are moderately amusing. Ten "webisodes" released viaNBC.com over the summer run for a little less than 20 minutes total,offering up a mini-episode about the hunt for $3,000 missing from thecompany's books. Oscar, Angela, and Kevin star, though others makebrief appearances. It's a pretty cool idea, producing web-onlycontent over the hiatus, but these segments are light on laughs anddon't really deliver. Still, a worthy inclusion.

Just to please the completists (and take advantage of theNBC/Universal corporate synergy), the set also adds a reel of Olympicspromos (01m:41s) that teased the show's return following the 2006winter games with newly-shot themed gags and "Steve on Steve"interview segments (03m:19s) aired during an Office marathon insummer 2005 to promote The40-Year-Old Virgin.

And in the "overkill" department, there's a 16-minute gag reel that'sreally only funny if you like watching people laughing and blowingtakes. Not a lot here you haven't seen before, though maybe I wasexpecting too much.

Adding a bit of sheen to the proceedings is the uniform presentation.The menus take the form of the desk of the character pictured on thedisc art and all the episodes and extras (save the commentaries) arefully subtitled, which, incidentally will probably make it a loteasier for you to watch them covertly during office hours.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Rarely has a soul-killing job been quite so much fun. Season Two ofthe Americanized The Office more than lives up to its Britishnamesake. With the demise of ArrestedDevelopment, it stands as the best so-called sit-com ontelevision, and Universal's DVD set is sure to leave you satisfied andsmiling. (That's what she said!)

 


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