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The Office: Season Five(TV) (2009)
Based on the popular British series of the same name, this faster-paced American version follows the daily interactions of a group of idiosyncratic office employees at paper company Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch via a documentary film crew's cameras. Regional manager Michael (Steve Carell) thinks he's the coolest, funniest, best boss ever - which, of course, makes him the uncoolest, most obnoxious and annoying boss as far as his staff are concerned. Salesman Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) has always loved receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) and loves sabotaging his cube-mate, the know-it-all Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak) started as a young, smart, self-possessed temp, but quickly figured out the real office politics despite Michael's attempts to instill the official point-of-view, and gets himself a job at corporate HQ in New York. The staff is rounded out by quiet Phyllis Lapin Vance (Phyllis Smith), beaten down by the working life Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker), office alcoholic Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery), up-tight Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey), formerly closeted homosexual Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez), stocky and uncouth Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), ambivalent kleptomaniac Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton), Sad Sack HR rep Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein), persistently love-struck Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling), icy corporate manager turned Michael's girlfriend Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin), former Stamford branch denizen and Cornell graduate Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson), and Pam's ex-fiancé Roy Anderson (David Denman)
For more about The Office: Season Five and the The Office: Season Five Blu-ray release, see the The Office: Season Five Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 3, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: Randall Einhorn, Victor Nelli Jr., Jeffrey Blitz, Claire Scanlon
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker
» See full cast & crew
The Office: Season Five Blu-ray Review
100 episodes in and I'm still laughing...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 3, 2009
Sometimes I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way. Like an improv conversation. An improversation.
The Office is arguably the most quotable comedy on television. Week after week, the acclaimed Emmy Award-winning series brings the goods, filling its characters' oh-so-mundane lives with uncomfortable exchanges, hilarious encounters, and the sort of sharply written, deftly delivered dialogue viewers adore. Yes, those who've held a dull, dead-end office job will get more out of each episode than people who haven't had the displeasure, and yes, fans of traditional sitcoms will yawn their way to another channel (or, in this case, Blu-ray release), but most anyone who appreciates wry humor, smart scripting, ingenious improvisation, and unexpected surprises will thoroughly enjoy watching Michael Scott and his ragtag band of paper salesmen struggle to succeed. No hyperbole required.
Did you know that in Morocco, it is common to exchange a small gift when meeting somebody for the first time? In Japan, you must always commit suicide to avoid embarrassment. In Italy, you must always wash your hands after going to the bathroom. This is considered to be polite.
For anyone who isn't familiar with NBC's current moneymaker and iTunes sensation, The Office focuses on the exploits and misadventures of fifteen employees of the Dunder Mifflin paper company, specifically those staffing the Scanton, Pennsylvania branch. There's chummy manager and self-proclaimed comedian, Michael Scott (Steve Carell); series everyman and well-intentioned prankster, Jim Halpert (John Krasinski); his fiancée and office administrative assistant, Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer); his up-tight arch nemesis, gullible workspace buddy, and man of grand delusions, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson); grumpy desk jockey, Stanley (Leslie David Baker); resident ice queen and "Cat Fancy" subscriber, Angela (Angela Kinsey); dense accounting mainstay, Kevin (Brian Baumgartner); shy temp turned managerial monster turned unemployed substance abuser, Ryan (B.J. Novak); soft-spoken sales representative, Phyllis (Phyllis Smith); chatty customer service rep, Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling); lush, alcoholic, and rabies survivor, Meredith (Kate Flannery); devious office enigma, Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton, one of the funniest but most underused actors on the show); gay accounts manager, Oscar (Oscar Nuñez); human resources contact and frequent target of Michael's unwarranted hate, Toby (Paul Lieberstein); and Michael's latest hire, a Dunder Mifflin vet from the Stamford, Connecticut branch, Andy (Ed Helms).
Andy Bernard does not lose contests. He wins them. Or he quits them because they're unfair.
In its fifth season, The Office mixes up the status quo yet again, placing key characters in flux, bringing back old favorites, and freshening up a formula that was threatening to grow stale. As Michael pursues a relationship with Toby's replacement, a fellow dork named Holly Flax (Wire alum Amy Ryan), he has to deal with Dwight's clashes with CFO David Wallace (Andy Buckley), try to outwit the company's Regional Vice President, Charles Minor (Idris Elba, also plucked from The Wire), and attempt to start his own paper company -- the aptly named Michael Scott Paper Company -- after a hasty resignation leaves him unemployed. Meanwhile, Jim and Pam prepare for their upcoming wedding while Pam, in a moment of Jerry Maguire bravado, follows Michael out the door. Elsewhere, the Dwight-Angela-Andy love triangle comes to a head, Stanley deals with a heart attack, Michael's ex (Melora Hardin) has a baby, the Party Planning Committee splinters, Meredith earns herself an intervention, and Ryan agrees to return to the fold to help Michael and Pam with their new company. It all culminates in a clever coup and a crazy company picnic that gives The Office's sixth season endless opportunities and material.
In my opinion, the third date is traditionally the one where you have sex. Does Holly feel that way? I don't know. I will probably find out tonight. If she starts having sex with me I'll know for sure.
Comedy in The Office is a bitter blend of awkward silences, brazen claims, heated over-reactions to ordinary problems, and rampant miscommunication. The characters simultaneously register as real people and bizarre caricatures, making extreme scenarios funnier than they would have otherwise been, and allowing heart-wrenching developments to resonate and elicit genuine sympathy. The series' format injects plenty of docu-charm hilarity into the proceedings, using private interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage to keep things fresh. Much has been made of the gestures and expressions Jim and others direct at the camera, but I always find these glimpses connect me to any character who's noticeably distracted by my palpable presence. Like most legitimate documentary subjects, Michael and his employees shift in and out of their chosen on-camera personas, sometimes at will, sometimes by the sheer nature of the situation at hand. Their valiant attempts to hide their true selves are both amusing and revealing, and their duplicity should be familiar to anyone who deals with snide co-workers on a daily basis. The resulting chaos not only amplifies the series' comedy, it makes each character, and by extension the entire Dunder Mifflin organization, more human, more vulnerable and, as luck would have it, more entertaining.
It's very unusual for Michael not to show up for work. My guess, he's either deeply depressed or an icicle has snapped off his roof and impaled his brain. He has this terrible habit of standing directly underneath them. And staring up at them. And I always say, "Michael, take two steps back and stare at the icicle from the side." And he's like, "no, I like the way they look from standing directly underneath them." It was only a matter of time.
Season Five also proves that a low-key series can thrive indefinitely if it boasts a staff of shrewd writers and a cast of quick-witted comedians. Time and time again, The Office has reinvented itself and played the most unpredictable cards in its hand. Relationships rarely come together the way viewers would expect -- even Jim and Pam's engagement, which many expected to follow the typical lovers-be-damned path to sitcom hell, is shockingly peaceful and, for lack of a better word, healthy -- while characters always react in new (albeit logical) ways. More importantly, the various stories and subplots rely on sleight-of-psychological-hand and crystallizing insights to transform every Dunder Mifflin employee into an archetype in their own universe. I've worked with people who behave exactly like Dwight. I've had bumbling managers who ascribe to Michael's make-em-feel-happy mantra. I spent my cubicled college years next to people like Jim and Pam, cracking the same jokes and making the same observations about the strange cast of characters I worked with. That being said, The Office never allows a character, even the most outlandish freak or geek of the week, to remain a one-note fixture for very long. The writers frequently peel back the subtle layers of each rep and accountant, allowing viewers to feel pride when Michael saves the day, empathy when Dwight's tough exterior is chipped, heartbreak when Toby's feelings go unnoticed, and frustration when Jim's plans fail to come together.
Mike gave me a list of his top ten Springsteen songs. Three of them were Huey Lewis and the News, one was Tracy Chapman Fast Car. And my personal favorite: Short People.
Maybe I'm being overly academic in my analysis of what makes The Office such a fantastic show. Maybe funny's just funny. However, anyone who's paying attention will notice the character-driven craftsmanship that goes into each and every episode. More than a sitcom in the guise of a mockumentary, more than a remake of a UK hit, more than a successful network show, The Office is a mood-booster on a dreary day, a laugh-til-it-hurts ensemble comedy, and one of NBC's few truly must-see TV hits. If you haven't had the opportunity to partake of its tasty goodness, now's your chance.
The Office: Season Five Blu-ray, Video Quality
I keep various weaponry strategically placed around the office. People say, "oh, it's dangerous to keep weapons in the home or the workplace." Well I say, "it's better to be hurt by someone you know accidentally than by a stranger on purpose."
The Office: Season Five features a tricky, at-times uneven 1080p/VC-1 transfer that either suffers from minor technical issues or, as is more likely the case, embraces the series' faux-documentary aesthetics so well that it merely appears to suffer from said shortcomings. While colors are vivid and blacks are well-resolved, skintones are often muddy, flushed or, in some shots, both. Likewise, detail is impressive at times, underwhelming at others. The series' mock-interview segments look fantastic -- crisp facial textures and sharp object definition combine forces to produce a steady stream of striking shots -- but most of the on-the-fly action (or lack thereof) struggles with softness, resolution inconsistencies, and the show's various video sources. Unfortunately, it's difficult to tell what aspects of the transfer should be attributed to intention and what might possibly be the result of a problematic presentation. Even the appearance of errant artifacting, source noise, and other digital anomalies left me wondering whether I was witnessing a clever tweak or a fleeting fluke.
My gut tells me all of the transfer's "issues" are a product of intention -- particularly since everything on display enhances the immersiveness of the experience -- and I've scored the transfer accordingly. Ultimately, fans will be pleased with the results (as well as the fact that the Blu-ray edition handily bests its DVD counterpart) and newcomers will quickly accept the visuals for what they are. I, for one, was completely satisfied.
The Office: Season Five Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Nobody steals from Creed Bratton and gets away with it. The last person to do this disappeared. His name? Creed Bratton.
Like its video transfer, Season Five's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't deliver the sort of sparkling lossless mix Blu-ray owners normally associate with the format. Air hiss, noise, occasionally muffled voices, and camera shuffling invade the soundscape on a regular basis, overwhelming dialogue and other effects. However, while such problems would normally be signs of lazy, lackluster, or low-budget sound design, The Office revels in these shortcomings. Once again, intention is the name of the game. The series is presented as a documentary and the audio track follows suit, embracing all of the unexpected mishaps and technical flaws viewers expect from, you guessed it, a documentary. Intentional problems aside, the tone and tenor of the track itself is relatively impressive. Interview segments feature clean, intelligible dialogue, murmuring voices and crashing kitchenware can be heard in the distance, and the rear speakers help create a convincing soundfield brimming with believable interior acoustics and ambient effects. It helps that directionality is spot on, LFE output is commendable (especially during more chaotic scenes like Dwight's fire drill), and the series' theme song is rich and weighty.
All things considered, Universal's DTS-HD MA track certainly won't turn heads, but it carefully and meticulously exhibits all the qualities of a real office-based documentary. Fans of the show couldn't ask for much more.
The Office: Season Five Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jan is about to have a baby with a sperm donor, and Michael is preparing for the birth of a watermelon with Dwight. Now... this baby will be related to Michael through delusion.
The 4-disc Blu-ray edition of The Office: Season Five arrives with the same generous supplemental package found on the standard DVD version, injects a few exclusive features into the mix, and presents the majority of the video content in high definition. Fans should prepare themselves for ten audio commentaries, more than three hours of deleted scenes, two webisode miniseries, and a variety of other goodies that adds tremendous replay value to the set.
The Office: Season Five Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
When I discovered YouTube, I didn't work for five days. I did nothing. I watched Cookie Monster sing Chocolate Rain about a thousand times.
The Office is just as strong (perhaps stronger) in its fifth season than it was when it first arrived on the scene. The characters are more endearing, the writing is sharper, and the storylines are funnier and more surprising than ever before. Thankfully, the Blu-ray edition of Season Five is just as strong. With a faithful video transfer, a proficient DTS-HD Master Audio track, and more than seven hours of special features -- which sport ten audio commentaries and three hours of deleted scenes -- it's worth any Office fan's consideration. Granted, it would be nice to have earlier seasons in high definition as well, but their absence shouldn't deter anyone from picking up this fine release.
The Office: Other Seasons
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