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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The Office ~ Season Five [Blu-ray]

 

(Developed by Greg Daniels, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: NBC Televsion

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: approx

Chapters: 26

Size: 50 GB

Case: Expanded Gatefold Blu-ray Case w/ slipcover

Release date: September 8, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentaries by Cast & Crew on (10) Selected Episodes

• Webisodes – in HD (20:18) 2 x ca 9 + 11 min

• Deleted Scenes – in HD (ca. 3 hrs. 15 min.)

• 100 Episodes, 100 Moments – in HD (8:45)

• The Office Promos – in HD - XLIII Football Championship (2:31) + Beijing Games (2:08)

• Gag Reel – in HD (14:48)

• Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: The Office – in 4:3 SD (30:02)

• One-Liner Soundboard

 

 

The Film: 6

The Office [among other things, a satirical study in sexually harassment - LN] is presented as a mockumentary. The primary vehicle for the show is that a camera crew has decided to film Dunder Mifflin and its employees, seemingly around the clock. The presence of the camera is acknowledged by the characters. . . The main action of the show is supplemented with talking-head interviews or "confessionals", with the characters speaking one on one with the camera crew about the day's events. . . In other instances, the camera seemingly has affected plot lines. . . In "E-mail Surveillance", Pam asks the crew to help her look for evidence of Dwight and Angela's secret relationship, which they later provide. In "Fun Run", the cameras catch Jim and Pam kissing, which leads to them admitting to the crew that they are in fact dating. - Wikipedia

Excerpt of review from Wikipedia located HERE



The Office is NBC's most popular comedy since Seinfeld and an Emmy-Award winning series to boot, so who am I to say "Nay." It's a show that dares you to take it seriously, and yet, I can't help myself. Comedy, unlike drama, I think we can agree, is very much a matter of personal taste, but that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be critiqued. Now I like silly and wicked and contrary as much as the next person – I think. I like the Marx Bros. and Laurel & Hardy, but not the Stooges. I prefer Keaton to Chaplin, more than a little I should think. I find A Fish Called Wanda hysterical, and Tootsie reassuring. My list of the best TV comedies admits quite a range: Fawlty Towers, Soap, Mary Tyler Moore, Barney Miller, Seinfeld. But not The Office – not the American version, anyhow.

For example, while the absence of a laugh track is to be commended, I fail to warm to the constant acknowledgement of the camera by the actors, which strikes me, especially after four seasons, as scripted instead of spontaneous, which is what it ought to seem. Pam's (Jenna Fischer) furtive glances at camera, especially in close-up, come across as unnatural and not funny after the first few times. After five years of her continuing comment to the camera, the less I can understand what Jim (John Krasinski), one of the more level-headed characters in the show, sees in her. Some of these acknowledgments work better than others, as when Dwight (Rainn Wilson) grins at the camera when "caught" leaving a tryst with Angela (Angela Martin). Then, too, the whole handheld camera thing is dizzying on a big screen, especially given the frequent cutting. As for its star, Steve Carrell, as the office manager who thinks far too much of himself in, oh, so many ways - even as late as season five, I continue to feel he tries too hard – like, I see the acting, but not the character.

 

Image: 8/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

How to describe this image, that is the question? "Ripe" seems about right – like a peach that could explode delicious, sappy juices at first bite. Universal's Blu-ray image for The Office: Season Five is saturated and warm: "Flushed", like the temperament of most of the employees at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. It is also prone to blowing out the highs at times, no doubt a result of its being shot on HD Video. Most of the time, it just looks like the dynamics are crushed in favor of a color scheme, funnily enough, seems at odds with the office mentality, though not their fantasy life. These are observations, more so than criticisms, and aside from these, I found little in the way of artifacts and other nuisances that were bothersome. Detail and textures are faithfully presented. Bit rates remain high, averaging about 30 Mbps, with spikes of 40.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7
I have to credit the producers for their insistence on maintaining the illusion of a documentary – this means no laugh track and, except for the occasional diagetic music heard wafting through computers and office parties, no music either. But all is not lost for an ostensible surround mix: office and outdoor ambiance is caught beautifully; indoors, there is a subtlety that could pass for non-existence, until you turn off the surrounds. The dialogue, like the color, is fat, but always intelligible.
 

Operations: 7
The discs load promptly, eschewing promos and other diversions. The menu design is much the same as other Universal Blu-rays – but with no U-Control in this case. While not properly an operation, I must once again take points off for Universal's lack of imagination lately when it comes to disc face art. There isn't any – at least nothing that distinguishes these discs from others, except the title and the disc number. How lazy can you get!

 

 

 

Extras: 10
NBC/Universal offers an extraordinary number of high quality extra features for The Office Season Five. For a comedy television series, these are above and beyond. In addition to audio commentaries (thankfully, without PIP) by roundtable collections of various cast & crew for some 10 episodes, there are over 3 hours of Deleted Scenes presented in surprisingly good quality high definition. Since the show has a kind of vaudevillian quality about it anyway, these scenes amount to simply more Office. The only way for these scenes to have been presented any more interestingly would be for them to have been seamlessly branched into selectable extended versions of the televised episode.

Other segments in high def include: "100 Episodes, 100 Moments" – nearly nine minutes of one liners, counted down in the corner of the frame like a sports event rally (I liked these enough to use them for the entire of my menu/bonus caps); a Gag Reel of nearly a quarter of an hour; several promo clips from major sports events (how's that for a bizarre association, typical of the show's sense of humour!); and two webisodes ("Kevin's Loan" and "The Outburst"), 9 & 11 minutes each.

 

 

Bottom line: 7
I don't quite see how the series deserves more than a season in this format: A documentary about a year in the life of an office – yes; five years, not so much. On the other hand, the whole show is perversely voyeuristic, so why shouldn't this have rubbed off on the camera crew! I suspect they are addicted to their subject and, like V'Ger, have long ago forgotten their original assignment in favor of the new. That said, the Blu-ray sports a solid image and listenable, if voluptuous dialogue track with subtle surround cues, and ample extra features that will tickle the fancy of any fan of the series.

Leonard Norwitz
September 3rd, 2009

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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