The Office is a comedy-mockumentary that follows the employees of the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of a medium-sized paper company called Dunder Mifflin. Led by branch manager Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), we see the DM staff go about their daily business, selling paper and trying to find some sense of contentment in their mundane office environment.
8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
The Office is a comedy-mockumentary that follows the employees of the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of a medium-sized paper company called Dunder Mifflin. Led by branch manager Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), we see the DM staff go about their daily business, selling paper and trying to find some sense of contentment in their mundane office environment.

The fifth season starts off with Michael excited over the upcoming birth of his ex-girfriend’s baby, despite the fact that he knows he’s not the baby’s father. Meanwhile, Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) deal with their temporary separation as Pam leaves for New York to participate in a three-month graphic-design program. Amy Ryan returns to play Holly, Toby’s replacement and Michael’s potential love interest. Meanwhile, Angela (Angela Kinsey) is still sleeping with Dwight (Rainn Wilson) behind her fiancé Andy’s back. Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) knows about this and is all too happy to hold the secret over Angela’s head, having spent years under Angela’s heel. And despite having been arrested and fired for the scam he was involved in, Ryan (B.J. Novak) manages to secure his old temp job at the DM Scranton branch for a little while.

While still maintaining most of the usual format of the series, the fifth season takes a few twists and turns that, when I watched the show during its original run, I wasn’t completely crazy about. My biggest issue was the amount of time focused on things going on outside of the office. This was due in large part to Michael starting his own paper company and working out of his home, and later out of a closet-like office in the DM building. I recall watching the Michael Scott Paper Company story arc play out at a snail’s pace when it originally ran, but knowing how it would all wind up during the DVD rewatch seemed helped me to appreciate the arc a lot more than I originally did.

Whether it’s the romantic relationships (Jim/Pam, Dwight/Angela/Andy, Michael/Holly) or the interoffice relationships (Jim/Dwight, Angela/Oscar/Kevin, Michael/Dwight, Michael/Toby), the fifth season delivers in pushing all of the relationships a little bit further while also establishing newer alliances (Andy and Dwight’s unlikely friendship). Great stand-alone bits in the season include the debate among the office over whether or not Hillary Swank is hot, whether Michael should use the surplus money in the budget on a new copier or new chairs, and the episode that sends Michael “abroad” to Canada with Oscar and Andy.

What makes The Office a stand-out series is the balance between the day-to-day antics of the characters and the ongoing story arcs that focus on the relationships they have with each other. The series is one of those shows that rewards regular viewers with fantastic character moments and little inside jokes, while at the same time, keeping most of the humor broad enough that it doesn’t alienate casual viewers. On top of that, many of the tedious issues the characters have in the workplace are things anyone who’s ever worked in an office will find relatable. It’s the balance between the overall story arcs and the stand-alone plots that make the show so great. In that respect, the fifth season is yet another fantastic installment to this series.
10 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
As an Office fan, this DVD set is definitely a must-own. Not only does it contain all 26 episodes from the fifth season, but the set is also packed with bonus features that will appeal to anyone who loves this series. It took me the good part of the long-weekend to watch everything that came with the set, so if you’re looking to drown yourself in Office greatness to get amped up for the premiere of the new season, this set will definitely do the trick.

Twenty-six episodes is a lot for one season, and that’s not counting the season-premiere double-episode. On top of that, there are enough deleted scenes to make up a whole new season of the show. I know that at least some, if not all of the deleted scenes spread out over the five discs were once featured on NBC.com. I know I recognized a few of them, including the hilarious scenes that revealed that Kevin, having once made a “donation” to the sperm bank next to the IHOP where Jan made a “withdrawal” in order to make her baby, could possibly be the father of little Astrid. I recall back during the second season of the series when Pam informed Jim that if you let the ice melt in your mixed drink, you can drink more. She called it “second drink,” and to me, the deleted scenes are a lot like second drink. They’re watered down, and in some cases you can understand why they were cut, but if you love the show and you embrace those little humorous moments, maintaining a buzz by slurping up the deleted scenes is definitely a plus.

Also among the bonus features are a variety of commentaries featuring the writers and actors. One commentary actually includes some of the craft services people and caterer. If you’re such a fan that you want to know what the cast and crew are munching on between takes (cookie cake or disappointing caramel apples), that commentary’s definitely worth listening to. As this is a series that’s comprised of a big cast and numerous fantastic writers, each commentary has something different and interesting to offer.

The last disc includes a gag reel, which shows the actors goofing up their lines. If you were impressed to see that Steve Carell could declare that he once gave Phyllis a “golden shower” while keeping a straight face, the gag reel will reveal that it did in fact take numerous tries before he got that line out. Another feature is the “100 Episodes, 100 Moments,” which is a long and amusing montage of scenes from the series that will have you wanting to break out your old Office DVDs and start from the beginning (or head out to the store to purchase them, which I think was the intent of this feature, as it ends with an ad for the first four seasons on DVD).

The two webisode series are included on the fifth disc as well, the first featuring Kevin’s money troubles and the second focusing on Oscar’s outburst. Finally, there’s the “Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents The Office” panel video, which includes the cast and writing staff as they answer questions about the series. It’s interesting enough, as the cast and the writers are all an amusing bunch of people. My only complaint is that the video and sound quality isn’t that great.

I don’t think we could’ve asked for much more on this DVD set. Even if you’ve already watched and rewatched all of the episodes in the season, the special features alone make the set worth owning for any fan of the series.

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