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The Office: Season Nine(TV) (2012)
Based on the popular British series of the same name, this faster-paced US 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.
For more about The Office: Season Nine and the The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray release, see the The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 11, 2013 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 Nine Blu-ray Review
A series sendoff done right... minus a few missteps along the way. But who's counting?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 11, 2013
"I wanted to leave quietly. It seemed dignified. But having Kevin grind up on my front while Erin pretends to hump me from behind is a more accurate tribute to my years here. I'm gonna miss these guys."
Say what you will about The Office. A series can't exactly make it nine seasons coasting on fumes; particularly a network comedy with modest ratings. Yet despite all the rough Season Eight roads and bumpy Season Nine detours, it's been an at-times hilarious, at-times painful, unexpectedly heartwarming 201-episode joyride. The trick, then, for showrunner Greg Daniels and his writing staff was in pulling off the impossible: wrapping the show in style, granting each beloved character a fittingly fond farewell, and delivering a deeply satisfying finale run, dotting every last "i" and crossing every last "t". Daniels and The Office alums laugh in the face of impossibility, though, overcoming a number of early season mistakes and ill-advised tangents to deliver a side-splittingly funny, genuinely moving march toward the end, culminating in three final episodes that are among the series' finest. And the finale? Arguably one of the most fully realized and gratifying sitcom finales in recent memory, with a closing sequence as poignant as it is perfect (yes, perfect); a consummation of everything that's kept millions of viewers coming back to The Office season after season, episode after episode, through good times and bad, these past eight years.
Over the course of its Farewell Season, The Office follows Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) as they struggle with career aspirations, long-distance relationship woes and marital strain; Andy (Ed Helms), who goes MIA only to return even more unhappy and unstable; Angela (Angela Kinsey), pregnant and married to a senator (Jack Coleman) Oscar (Oscar Nuņez) believes to be gay; Daryl (Craig Robinson), who joins Jim in pursuing an opportunity at a startup sports marketing company in Philadelphia; Erin (Ellie Kemper), who decides Andy may not be her one true love; Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) and his ongoing... challenges; Creed (Creed Bratton), slave to delusion; Stanley (Leslie David Baker) and his endless irritations; Toby (Paul Lieberstein) and his attempts to woo Nellie (Catherine Tate); a final reshuffling of the office hierarchy that finally, finally passes the reigns to the right man for the job; and, at long last, the revelation of who's been filming the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin all these years. And, more importantly, why.
Where does Season Nine veer off course? Another will-they-or-won't-they dilemma haunts Jim and Pam, this one closer to reality but anchored to a job opportunity and documentary cameraman that are more interesting elements in theory than in practice. Andy's voyage off the deep end, which drags on much too long and amounts to much too little. Dwight's personal life and engagement to a local farmgirl earn too much attention and screentime (in the hopes of introducing a spin-off series that never came to fruition). And a handful of throwaway episodes that drift too far into cartoon comedy territory. Even so, the good outweighs the bad, and, after a string of gut-busting hits and groan-inducing misses, the ninth season gains breakneck momentum in its final six episodes and makes the most of its rapidly dwindling hours.
What works? Everything else. Jim, Pam and Dwight, the unlikeliest Three Musketeers in the workplace sitcom world, bring focus to a series that had become too spontaneous and ungainly for its own good. The lovably deadpanned Daryl, who at long last earns a promotion from bit player to power player. Kevin, Meredith and Stanley, rock solid to the riotous but low-key end. Erin, and new Dunder Mifflinites Clark (Clark Duke) and Pete (Jake Lacy), not to mention Pete's relationship with Erin and Clark's relationship with, um, Dwight. Long story. And one of the more surprising storylines: Angela and Oscar's reluctant friendship, which results in the most unbearably awkward scenes of Season Nine... and some of its sweetest. And that's just some of what awaits fans. There's also Here Comes Treble. A traditional Schrute Christmas. The lice scare. Pam's job interview in Philly. Andy vs. the internet. The Scranton branch's new manager. Oscar's new roommate. "Philllip, Phillip, Phillip. It's all about Phillip. I hate Phillip." The Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager. Jim's video (beware the tears that may follow). The wedding. The cameos. The countless nods and references to past seasons, loose ends, and the returning characters audiences have spent several seasons missing dearly.
Were this any other season, I might be more harsh when it came to some of the first seventeen ninth-season episodes. But I have to admit: The Office couldn't have ended much better than it does here, and I couldn't be much happier with where the employees of Dunder Mifflin hang their hats come the finale. By the time Dwight was offering his final thoughts on the company, his friends, his co-workers and his life, I found myself willing to forgive just about anything, from the series' lowest lows to its most misguided left turns. At the end of the day, though -- or the end of the series, as it were -- it was all worth it. Worth the laughs, the tears, the smiles, the uncomfortable silences, the friendships, the rivalries, the chaos, the hugs, the bitterness, the glances at the camera, the office games, the department wars, the warehouse antics, the off-site trips, the colorful cast of characters, the breakups, the hookups, the marriages, the departures, the arrivals, the memories... all of it. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray, Video Quality
"One of my jobs is to input customer complaints into the computer. And when they're in, I fill out one of these cards. But the information's already on the computer, so....why am I filling out the card? I asked Andy, and he told me to "chillax," and then went away on a big, long boat ride. So here we are. Don't give me a pointless office chore, because I will build a little paper house. Fight the power."
The Office goes out just as it came in: utterly devoted to its mockumentary style and on-the-cheap swagger. Season Nine's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation isn't often pretty, and certainly doesn't scream "high def demo!" But it clings to the series' intended aesthetic, inconsistent clarity and multi-source discrepancies be damned. Colors tend to be brighter and more washed out this season, with higher contrast pushing whites to crush-prone extremes. And yet skintones are quite lovely, primaries pop, black levels are nice and deep, and bland beiges, dull mustard yellows and dress-casual creams look exactly as they're intended. Detail is decidedly decent too, although a fair bit of softness and standard definition footage proves to be a familiar eyesore. No matter, though. Macroblocking, banding, aliasing and other anomalies are kept to a bare minimum, and really only appear when the Office crew go off-site, are sitting in their cars, or are being filmed with hidden cameras. In other words, the only issues that hinder the image are all part of the mockumentary illusion. Ultimately, Season Nine's high definition presentation is comparable to that of previous seasons available on Blu-ray. Fans won't be disappointed.
The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Of all of the vermin in God's great green kingdom, lice are the ones I detest the most. My first day of school, I had lice, and no one would play with me. For fifteen years, they called me freak and four eyes and sci-fi nerd and girl puncher. All because I had lice when I was seven!"
Like Season Nine's video presentation, Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track captures the subdued sonics of the Dunder Mifflin offices without a hitch, despite an at-times underwhelming soundfield. Dialogue is clean and clear on the whole (barring those scenes in which voices are meant to be muffled, amplified or plagued by air hiss or ambient noise), effects are reasonably crisp, and LFE output is fairly weighty... when it needs to be (there really aren't many sequences that call for significant low-end support). The rear speakers field the series' reserved soundscape with ease, and it isn't very difficult to immerse in the inanity of it all, even if immersion is strictly of the documentary variety. All told, The Office: Season Nine sounds just fine. Its lossless track isn't going to wow anyone, or wake the kids for that matter. But this is the series, for better or worse, and Universal's DTS-HD MA mix delivers precisely what longtime fans of the show should expect.
The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"How did I just abandon my dreams so quickly? It's cause I had a fallback. That's the problem. When you have fallbacks, it's just easy to give up. When Cortez landed in Mexico, only way he got his men to defeat the Aztecs was by burning all of his own boats. So they could never return home. Huge dick move but very effective. I need to be that same kind of dick to myself."
Blu-ray/UltraViolet Combo Pack Contents (Subject to Change): The initial combo pack release includes a slipcover (with the original pressing), a DigiPak with overlapping disc hubs/trays (similar to previous season releases), four BD-50 discs, and an UltraViolet digital copy (download and see more details at UniversalDigitalCopy.com). Please note: the Season Nine UltraViolet digital copy is not iTunes compatible.
The Office: Season Nine Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Stone and Son Suit Warehouse recently lost their paper provider. They're a family-owned business. Jim and I used to clean up at those. We'd go in pretending to be family. Brothers. We did it at a family-owned law firm, at a family-owned construction company, and a family-owned motorcycle store. Jim and Dwight Shrupert. I was the dynamic, likeable winner that was doted upon by Mom. And Jim was the closeted foot fetishist pretending to belong. The client never knew any of that... but I knew."
If I felt the need to be more objective, I wouldn't be so forgiving when it comes to The Office: Season Nine. But the last few episodes of the series' final hurrah are so good, so funny, so right that I found myself overlooking earlier shortcomings and shrugging off things that, in any other season, might have left a fouler taste in my mouth. Honestly, I can't imagine The Office -- at least the post-Steve Carell Office -- going out on a better six-episode note. Universal's Blu-ray release does well by the final season too, with a solid AV presentation and a decent supplemental package. Yes, audio commentaries would have gone a long way to helping the Season Nine BD compete with its previous season counterparts, but beggars can't be choosers. If you have any love of The Office, don't pass this one up.
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