October 19, 2006

DVD Review: The Office - Season Two

It's hard to get excited over a sitcom. I have grown weary of the families, the kids, the inlaws, and the neighbors that typically inhabit these universes. Sure, every once in awhile one will slip through the cracks and bring something good to the table, but they are few and far between. I am looking for the comedies that bring something different to the table. Sadly, it is not all that often that I find a sitcom that I believe to be a must see. The past few years have brought a few that are worth my time.

The past few years have brought us the likes of Scrubs, Arrested Development, and My Name is Earl. There is one other that has risen through the ranks, a remake of a British series that has already gone on to bring home a Best Comedy Emmy award. If you haven't guessed it by now, the show is The Office. With Arrested Development gone and Scrubs beginning the year in limbo, awaiting a time slot, The Office is the brightest spot on the comedic battlefront.

The original series ran for two seasons, plus a couple of Christmas specials. It was a huge hit in its native land. I watched the first season on DVD, I remember liking it, but it has been awhile and I do not have very good memories of it. Perhaps I should revisit it. Anyway, when it was announced that it was being adapted for American television, there were considerable questions if they would be able to capture the magic of the original. I mainly remember seeing the commercials for it and hoping that it would be funny. The first short season proved to be very good, and this second season proved to be even better.

The Office is habit forming. As I put the disks in, I found that I could not watch just one episode. I had to keep watching to see what they would do next. The creative team and cast have really captures an insider look at the white collar world. I work for a computer software company, and that experience may help in my enjoyment of this series. I watch the interactions, the friendships, the annoyances, and everything in between and I identify with it. I watch guys like Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) and I see my own co-workers.

The gimmick, if you will, has the office being filmed for a documentary. This allows for great moments that involve the camera, and, vicariously, the audience watching at home. The camera becomes a character, putting us right there. When Jim recognizes the ridiculousness of the situations and gives the camera an exasperated look, he is looking at me, when Michael (Steve Carell) says something he shouldn't and realizes he is being filmed, it is me who is eavesdropping. The use of the camera, not as the fourth wall, but in the scene adds a lot to the show.

It is hard to pick out any single episode as a favorite, I like them all! Each episode can be watched on its own, but when you take them together as a whole, you see some great relationships come out. Jim's relationship with Michael, or his longing for Pam (Jenna Fischer), or the secret love between Dwight and Angela (Angela Kinsey), or Michael and Jan (Melora Hardin).

Audio/Video. The show is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1, reflecting the TV presentation. The video looks very good and is free from any artifacts. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and does a fine job. I do not have any criticisms for either, they are good, and as they should for any release these days.

Extras. You want extras? We got extras.

  • Commentaries. There are a couple of commentaries on each disk featuring cast and creative members. I listened to most of them, and they are very entertaining. They mix information about the shooting of the episodes with them having fun together. This is the kind of track I really like, a bunch of people reminiscing and having fun. Definitely worth listening too.
  • Deleted Scenes. There is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 2 hours of deleted scenes across the four disks. There is some very funny stuff, and it is a shame that they all had to be cut, but it is great seeing them here.
  • "Faces of Scranton." This is the video presentation that Carell's Michael Scott made for one of his corporate meetings, highlighting the people of his branch.
  • Blooper Reel. The usual flubs and goofs made even funnier by those involved.
  • Webisodes. These originally appeared on NBC.com. They are a collection of 2-3 minutes segments focusing on the accountants, Kevin, Angela, and Oscar as they invesigate missing money. I just wish this section had a play all.
  • Fake PSAs. You know those "The More You Know..." segments? Picture those with members of this office giving you ridiculous advice. These are very funny. Again, a play all would have been nice.
  • Steve on Steve. This was Steve Carell the actor on The Office interviewing Steve Carell the movie star in The 40 Year Old Virgin. This clip originally aired during a marathon of The Office episodes to promote the opening of the movie.

Bottomline. This is quite possibly the best sitcom currently on television, and this DVD set of the second season pays testament to that. It does not follow the standard formulas, it has original characters, a fun gimmick, great chemistry, and makes me laugh every time I see it. I am happy to have this in my collection.

Highly Recommended.

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Anonymous said...

Hey there, I'm Aaron. I'm just getting to know my fellow Blogcritic, um..Critics. I'm a TV fanatic too. So, I'm just checking out all the other TV related blogs. I really like yours. Great review of The Office Season 2. One of my favorite shows. Come on by my site and discuss last night's episode with us if you want. Did you catch it?


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