The Office is an adaptation of the UK TV series of the same name. While the original ran for two six-episode seasons and a two-part Christmas special which wrapped up the series, this version has run for five seasons (it reached its 100th episode in the season finale) with a sixth season starting later this month.
The series follows the absurd day-to-day comings and goings of the Dunder Mifflin paper company’s Scranton branch led by a bungling and self-involved boss. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is that boss; he excels at making messes, stumbling into solutions to problems, and leaving his superiors scratching their heads as to how his branch is so successful given his personality.
The series also follows the workers at Dunder Mifflin. Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) fancies himself Michael’s right-hand man, reports to him all of his workers' “infractions,” and tries to police the workplace the way he would run it if he were in charge. There’s also Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), the office couple who are trying to do their own thing and love to play pranks on Dwight (which is a highlight of the show). There are also other co-workers and more than a few are writers for the show who have taken on supporting roles. The series is shot with a single camera since it’s filmed in a documentary style.
Plots for this season include the introduction of Holly (Amy Ryan), Michael's counterpart, and their ensuing relationship, Pam going to Manhattan to become a graphic designer and maintaining her relationship with Jim, and Pam and Jim’s engagement. When a new boss makes Michael feel threatened, he quits to form his own company, takes Pam with him, and rehires Ryan (B.J. Novack), who was fired for creating fraudulent sales on the website. This plot lasts for several episodes and, including a new opening for the show, the new company took sales away from Dunder Mifflin by offering lower prices and more personalized attention. The resolution of this plot is a highlight of the season and very funny too.
I finally had the chance to watch the UK version and really enjoyed it. While the US version’s pilot is almost the same, the rest of the series consists of original episodes. However there are certain themes and relationships that can be recognized in both series. Each series is enjoyable to watch and succeeds on the strength of the stories and the cast.
The Office: Season Five is loaded with extras. There are over three hours of deleted scenes spread out over the four discs; that’s enough for an additional eight episodes. The scenes are funny and were cut for time or because they didn’t quite fit in with the episode itself, but now viewers have the opportunity to watch them. Kudos to the producers of The Office who aren’t just shooting for the episode and go over the 22-24 minutes (or less) allotted for an episode. Even if the scenes don’t make it into the show, there’s always room on the DVD.
“100 Episodes, 100 Moments” is a montage of clips from the first 100 episodes of the series.
“Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents The Office” is a sit-down interview with the cast which is informative and fun to watch.
“The Office Promos” aired during the Super Bowl and the Beijing Olympic Games.
“Webisodes – Kevin's Loan/The Outburst” are two sets of webisodes which first aired on NBC's website. The webisodes feature some of the secondary characters like Kevin and Oscar. “Kevin’s Loan” follows Kevin, who, as viewers know, has a gambling problem, and the webisodes show what happens when he has an outstanding loan that he needs to pay back. “The Outburst” shows what happens when Oscar, who is normally calm, cool and collected, loses his temper at things happening in the office. Both are funny and it’s great to see that these webisodes are included on the DVD, since some fans might not know about them or don’t have the means to watch them online.
There’s a gag reel which has your typical flubs and goof-ups, but it also shows how much fun the cast has on set and that comes through in this featurette.
Rounding things out are commentaries which have a number of contributors on various episodes. The first few are cast-less — we get stories from behind the scenes people who talk about working with the cast, ad libs turning into unscripted jokes and then making into the episode, and much more. There are also commentaries from most of the cast; however Carell and Krasinski are nowhere to be found on the episodes and it would have been nice to hear their thoughts. But the cast who are present talk about many aspects of the show and have a good time talking about the series.
Some fans thought the show stumbled a bit in season four due to the writers' strike and other reasons. However season five is strong and with the upcoming sixth season the series looks to be better than ever.