Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: NBC Televsion
Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Size: 50 GB
Case: Expanded Gatefold Blu-ray Case w/ slipcover
Release date: September 8, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: AVC
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1
English SDH & Spanish
• Audio Commentaries by Cast & Crew on (10) Selected
• 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 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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
September 3rd, 2009