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The Office: Season Seven(TV) (2010)
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-fiancÚ Roy Anderson (David Denman)
For more about The Office: Season Seven and the The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray release, see the The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 2, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms
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The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray Review
The hit series' seventh season is a welcome return to form...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 2, 2011
If she's engaged, I'm going to go crazy and I'm going to start attacking people. If she's not engaged... in all honesty, I might just burn this whole place down to the ground out of happiness. Either way, I am going to need some talking down. And nobody talks me down like myself, in a video, talking me down.
Can The Office thrive without Michael Scott? Can it even survive? The short answer: absolutely. Had Steve Carell resigned from Dunder Mifflin at some point in the series' first three seasons, chances are The Office would have faded into the Scranton night. But now? Seven, soon eight seasons in? Michael Scott, proud purveyor of one-liners, misunderstandings and awkward pauses, is just another cog in a well-oiled ensemble; a beloved cog, sure, but a cog all the same. Jim, Pam, Dwight, Andy, Stanley, Angela, Kevin, Oscar, Kelly, Daryl, Phyllis, Ryan, Meredith, Erin, Creed, Toby... how is that a single show has given us so many unforgettable characters? Who would have thought the Little American Adaptation That Could would grow beyond its leading man, to the point that his departure would bring laughter, tears and, perhaps most surprisingly, a sense of exciting new possibilities? For all the doubt hanging over Michael's empty desk, for all the questions about who will fill his chair, does it really matter? Should anyone really be worried? The Office, at its best and even at its worst, has reinvented itself with each passing season to hilarious, unpredictable, ever-quotable (and, yes, occasionally hit-or-miss) ends. And Season Seven, three or four shrug-inducing episodes aside, stands as one of the series' best.
No, no. Holly, this isn't 'Ocean's Eleven' where you get together with all your friends and just have fun and don't care about how it turns out. What'd you really think, honestly?
There's no shortage of uncomfortable encounters and ludicrously mundane office antics in the series' twenty-six seventh season episodes. Inept but endearing branch manager Michael Scott (Carell) is forced to meet with his mortal enemy, Toby (Paul Lieberstein), for six hours of contentious counseling, tries to outwit a rival firm's silver-tongued paper salesman (Timothy Olyphant), contacts all of his exes after a herpes scare, invests in yet another doomed venture (WUPHF.com!) brought to life by Ryan (B.J. Novak), rekindles a relationship with returning HR rep Holly (Amy Ryan), finally finishes his eleven-years-in-the-making feature film (Threat Level Midnight: The Movie, A Michael Scott Joint) and tries to decide whether or not he should leave his Dunder Mifflin family for good. Meanwhile, cutest (not to mention healthiest) married couple on TV Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer) deal with the challenges of parenthood, try to impress an influx of potential new managers (Will Ferrell chief among them) and work to balance their finances, professional relationships and impish office impulses. And resident beets-bears-n-BSG fanatic Dwight K. Schrute (Rainn Wilson) tries his hand at landlording, lashes out at the Steamtown Mall, starts a daycare center (much to Jim and Pam's dismay), accidentally fires a gun at work (much to everyone's dismay), lobbies to win Michael's seat of power, and eagerly (albeit briefly) rules the office with an iron fist.
Angela is engaged to a gay man. As a gay man, I'm horrified. As a friend of Angela, horrified. As a lover of elegant weddings, I'm a little excited.
Elsewhere, Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) grafts himself to grounded traveling salesman Todd Packer (David Koechner), Angela (Angela Kinsey) falls for an in-the-closet state senator, Creed (Creed Bratton) seizes power and loses his mind (even further), Daryl (Craig Robinson) leaves warehouse life in the dust and Andy (Ed Helms) works to woo Erin (Ellie Kemper) away from Sabre lackey Gabe (Zach Woods), showcases his skills in a production of Sweeney Todd, conducts a Sex Ed seminar in the conference room, and experiences the joys of a fast new computer. I could go on -- everyone has their standout moments this season, even Jan (Melora Hardin) and other ghosts of seasons past -- but it's clear that Carell's looming exit inspired the series writers to dig deep and push for every last joke, punchline and deadpan jolt. The actors rarely leap overboard (at least not so far that the rest of the ensemble can't haul any rogue jumpers back in), and forced comedy isn't on anyone's to-do list. Like most previous seasons, episode to episode gimmicks abound (mock YouTube videos, lip-sync routines, quick-hit guest stars, Threat Level Midnight and other go-big-or-go-home blips on the Office radar), but a prevailing sense of the ordinary and everyday is paramount. The more low-rent, the more cringe-worthy, the more embarrassing the better, and The Office knows how to make its viewers cringe with plenty of low-rent setups and heart-wrenching, side-splitting jabs. The showrunners continually walk the fine line between painfully funny and intentionally unfunny without teetering too far to one side or the other.
Disposable cameras are fun, although it does seem wasteful and you don't ever get to see your pictures. If it's an important event that you want to remember, I recommend using a real camera.
There's a real sense of cohesion this go-round; as if every actor is stepping up to help plug the Carell-shaped hole left in their midst; not for the good of a single character or an individual arc, but for the good of the ensemble, for the remaining spread of Dunder Mifflin mainstays, and for the series as a whole. With Michael bidding his final farewells, the writers have stories to wrap, groundwork to lay and vacancies to fill, and the sudden surge of renewed purpose allows both the showrunners and cast members to intuitively sidestep the sort of episodic bear traps that rendered Season Six so uneven and, at times, so rudderless. Parks and Recreation is sharper and Community is edgier, more surprising and quicker on its feet, but The Office doesn't flinch, settle or conform for a second, regardless of how strong the NBC Thursday Night comedy block competition becomes. The series' talent know their know product, know how to sell it, know how to deliver it and do just that. I'd even go so far as to say Season Seven doesn't show the series' age at all. In fact, the show is more spirited than it's been in years. Time and time again, the creative team finds new ways to work familiar magic with the same essential fundamentals, even as the playing field shifts more and more with each passing episode; time and time again, the actors find unexpected ways to transform lead into gold, even as friends, co-workers and (what must seem like) family come and go.
My perfect Valentine's Day? I'm at home, three cell phones in front of me, fielding desperate calls from people who want to buy one of the fifty restaurant reservations I made over six months ago.
Season Seven pulled off what some had considered impossible: forging ahead, comedy improved and integrity intact, while saying goodbye to Steve Carell and Michael Scott, arguably the series' heart and soul. Don't get me wrong, the upcoming eighth season still has a lot to prove come September 22nd, but I'm not nearly as worried as I was last year when news of Carell's exit raised countless questions. It looks like The Office is here to stay... if Krasinski, Fischer, Wilson and their fellow Dunder Mifflinites have anything to say about it.
The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray, Video Quality
I will never be happier than I am right now. I will also never be less happy. I will be at my current maximum happiness for the rest of my life, because I am manager of the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin...acting manager.
If you already own previous seasons of The Office on Blu-ray, you should know exactly what to expect from Season Seven's faithful-to-a-fault 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The series' mockumentary aesthetics sometimes produce unsightly, low-res eyesores (complete with hideous car-cam shots, compression artifacts, aliasing and other inherent anomalies), but most, if not all, of the offending issues simply in on the ongoing joke. Far more often than not, though, the presentation leaves quite an impression. Colors (dull and mundane as they are on occasion) are bright, bold and altogether satisfying, skintones are warm and natural, black levels are nice and deep, and contrast is dead on. Detail fluctuates a bit, but again, only as the cameras and shooting styles involved in a particular scene swap in and swap out. Faux-interviews, conference room meetings, office sit-downs, breakroom misadventures and midfloor encounters look great, with plenty of well-resolved fine textures to go around. Object definition is sharp and (generally) free from ringing and other similar oddities, overall clarity is excellent, and any delineation shortcomings, once again, should be chalked up to intention. Best of all, the encode is sound. Yes, artifacting and other issues abound, but only in the situations I already mentioned. Otherwise, I didn't notice anything that could be attributed to Universal's encoding efforts or the raw quality of the video presentation.
The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I love banter, but I hate witty banter...
Ditto. Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't going to raise the hair on your arms, wake the neighbors or rouse the fam from their midnight slumber. But a careful ear will take note of just how terrific Season Seven's lossless mix really is. Ambience isn't aggressive, but it is incredibly convincing; most of the directional effects in play aren't going to turn any heads, but they are used to great (albeit subtle) effect; rear speaker activity isn't overwhelming, but it is assertive, so much so that it makes the most out of every keyboard tik tak, background chatter, pencil tap tap, bit of unintelligible co-worker gossip and printer zzz schh that frequents any given scene. Likewise, the LFE channel doesn't exactly have any gunfire or explosions to work with -- Threat Level Midnight notwithstanding -- but it does make the most of everything that comes its way, be it a mid-range sedan engine, a slamming door, a Sweeney Todd stage production, an in-office firearm incident or any other mishap that requires some tender loving low-end care. All the while, dialogue remains clean, clear and carefully prioritized, voices sound as if they belong in whatever environment their speakers are inhabiting (cramped cubicle, small office, open warehouse, or city streets) and lines are rarely lost or buried in the mix (even when they are, they're supposed to be). As it stands, Season Seven sounds as good as it looks and, as far as this Office devotee is concerned, Universal's AV presentation justifies the cost of admission.
The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There is no such thing as a product. Don't ever think there is. There is only sex. Everything is sex. You understand that what I'm telling you is a universal truth, Toby.
Each season of The Office seems to arrive with fewer and fewer special features. Sadly, the 4-disc Blu-ray release of Season Seven is no exception. Still, five audio commentaries, a deluge of deleted scenes, three webisodes, a lengthy blooper reel and the full cut of Threat Level Midnight amounts to four hours of good series fun.
The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Let me make something clear. Jim and I have never, and will never, have sex in the office. Besides, we have something those other people don't have, which is a home and a bed.
Not everyone will be as fond of Season Seven as I am, and I'm sure The Office has worn out its welcome with more than a few old fans. But, in my humble estimation, the series' seventh season is one of its most consistent and consistently funny to date, sets the stage for life beyond Steven Carell, and bids a moving, altogether memorable farewell to Dunder Mifflin's 148-episode commander in chief. Will Season Eight be just as good? Time will tell, of course. But if Season Seven is any indication, the answer is a resounding "yes." For series fans, purchasing Universal's 4-disc Blu-ray release of The Office: Season Seven should be a no-brainer. Extras are dwindling from season to season, but there's still four hours of supplemental material to enjoy, and the series' latest AV presentation is, as always, excellent. Why are you still here? Add Season Seven to your cart, grab some tissues, toss in Disc Four and try to hold back a tear as Michael Scott walks off into the television sunset forever.
The Office: Other Seasons
The Office: Season Seven Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Office: Season Seven - July 1, 2011
Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring The Office: Season Seven to Blu-ray this September. The final season starring Steve Carell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) as Michael Scott, this year of The Office focuses on the misadventures that lead Scott to resign ...
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