Universal // 2008 // 608 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // September 8th, 2009
"I would like to invite you all to come along with me on a journey...Welcome to The Michael Scott Paper Company!"
As if to make up for the strike-shortened fourth season, The Office: Season Five clocks in with twenty-six episodes, running ten and a half hours -- besting last season by more than three hours and making it the longest season yet. That should satisfy all the fans who complained about getting less for their DVD dollar last year. But Season Five is more than a good deal. It's a great collection of episodes. Gone is the pall cast by Dwight getting dumped and Michael scrambling to appease crazy Jan. It's a brand new year for our Officemates -- a year of new love, wedding plans, and the show's 100th episode. If that sounds a bit too happy, don't worry. There's plenty of scandal and drama as well, in the form of cuckolded fiancees, relationships torn asunder, economic recession, a tough new boss, and an earth-shattering resignation.
The Office: Season Five has 26 episodes, across 5 discs:
* "Weight Loss"
Summer goes by in a flash as everyone tries to win a corporate contest to lose weight.
* "Business Ethics"
Holly's first seminar uncovers a major infraction that threatens her friendship with Michael.
* "Baby Shower"
Michael's excitement about becoming a father is dampened somewhat when he finds out that Jan already had the baby.
* "Crime Aid"
When the office is robbed because Michael forgets to lock the door, he holds a charity auction to recoup the losses.
* "Employee Transfer"
Corporate finds out that Michael and Holly are dating and sends her back to New Hampshire.
* "Customer Survey"
Jim and Dwight team up to figure out why they got such bad customer service reviews.
* "Business Trip"
An unlikely friendship is forged when Michael, Oscar, and Andy travel to Winnipeg to meet with clients.
* "Frame Toby"
The prodigal HR rep returns and Michael is so bummed about it that he tries to get Toby fired...or worse. (Presented in an extended version.)
* "The Surplus"
A $4300 surplus divides the office on what to do with the money: new chair or new copier?
* "Moroccan Christmas"
Michael tries to force Meredith to go into rehab after she gets drunk at the office party. Dwight corners the market on a popular toy.
* "The Duel"
Andy finally finds out about Angela's cheating heart and challenges Dwight to a duel.
* "Prince Family Paper"
Dwight and Michael are sent on an undercover mission to infiltrate Dunder Mifflin's competition, who just happen to be the nicest family in the world.
* "Stress Relief"
Dwight's misguided fire drill results in a corporate mandate to reduce employee stress, which Michael turns into an excuse to throw a roast for himself.
* "Lecture Circuit: Part 1"
Michael is sent on a tour of the other Dunder Mifflin branches to share the secrets of Scranton's success.
* "Lecture Circuit: Part 2"
Pam and Michael make an unscheduled (and forbidden) stop on his branch tour: Holly's office in Nashua, New Hamphire.
* "Blood Drive"
A Valentine's Day blood drive turns into a chance meeting between Michael and a potential Ms. Right.
* "Golden Ticket"
When Michael's Willy Wonka-inspired promotion goes horribly wrong, he forces Dwight to take the blame.
* "New Boss"
Michael goes from excitement to resentment when the new corporate VP cancels his 15th anniversary party.
* "Two Weeks"
Michael tries to recruit employees for his new paper company.
* "Dream Team"
The Michael Scott Paper Company assembles its crack sales force, meets with investors, and moves into its new (and tiny) office.
* "The Michael Scott Paper Company"
Tension is high among the employees of Michael's start-up paper company.
* "Heavy Competition"
Dwight is caught between two bosses when Michael asks him for inside information about Dunder Mifflin.
Early morning deliveries and cut-rate prices drive The Michael Scott Paper Company to the brink of bankruptcy.
* "Casual Friday"
Back in his old job, Michael causes a Mifflin mutiny by rewarding those who stayed loyal to him and punishing those who didn't.
* "Cafe Disco"
Trying to lighten everyone's mood, Michael converts his former paper company office into a combination coffee bar and dance club.
* "Company Picnic"
Michael and Holly are reunited at (and accidentally spoil) the company picnic, while Pam and Jim get some exciting news.
Though there's plenty of drama in The Office: Season Five, it feels a whole lot happier than the fan-dividing Season Four. As always, the show's heart are the relationships. From romantic to adversarial to completely indifferent, laughs in The Office come from seeing the Dunder Mifflinites interact with each other. Last year, those interactions were often uncomfortable to watch, including Michael and Jan's dysfunctional relationship, Dwight and Angela's breakup, and Ryan's corporate meltdown. Season four had plenty of great moments, but even the writers must have realized that things got a little too dark.
Season Five is a return to form on all fronts. Time is split more equally between main characters and the supporting cast. There are plenty of hijinks, office pranks, and one-liners to camera. Best of all, there's lots of variety in the story arcs, and none of them overstay their welcome. Some (Michael and Holly's relationship) could have lasted a little longer, but others (the rise and fall of The Michael Scott Paper Company) are just long enough.
With more episodes to work with this season, there's time for lots of great one-off episodes, too. Usually, Jim works hard to annoy Dwight, but in "Customer Survey," they team up to solve a minor mystery. "Business Trip" pairs up Oscar and Andy -- two great characters who, surprisingly, go great together. "Golden Ticket" is classic Office Michael, blurring the line between reality and a 1971 Gene Wilder kids' movie. And "Cafe Disco" is just plain fun.
Even if you watched the episodes when they were on TV, it's worth getting The Office DVDs for the extras. They consistently put other TV sets to shame. This season in no exception. The centerpiece of the bonus features are more than three hours of deleted scenes that are just as good as what got left in. They can be watched either from the episode list or all together in the bonus section on each disc -- a nice touch. I'm also happy to report that they're finally presented in the same anamorphic widescreen as the episodes themselves. Hallelujah.
There's also ten episode commentaries (a big improvement over last season's paltry quartet), a 14-minute blooper reel, hilarious Super Bowl and Beijing Olympics-themed TV promos, a "100 Episodes, 100 Moments" collection from every episode so far, and the two complete webisode series from last year: "Kevin's Loan" and "The Outburst." The longest single bonus feature is a 30-minute Q&A with the cast and crew recorded onstage at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, hosted by Andy Richter. The sound and picture quality of the live taping may be lacking, but it doesn't detract from all the juicy tidbits for fans.
Season Five is great, but it's not flawless. The Michael-Jan storyline, such a big part of season four, ends abruptly with this year's second episode, "Baby Shower." Actually, it doesn't so much end as it is never mentioned again. The same is true of the Michael-Holly storyline. Everyone knew The Office was only getting Amy Ryan for a few episodes, but in that time they made Holly an integral part of the cast. It's frustrating to see her pushed aside so soon after she and Michael start dating. The most annoying subplot this season, though, has to be Pam's brief stay in New York, away from Jim. Credit goes to the writers for not splitting the couple up, but shame on them for even suggesting it might happen.
With more TV shows, including The Office, taking advantage of the high-def format, you'd think the audio/visual quality of this set would be higher. The widescreen picture looks fine, but the surround mix might as well be stereo. And why do each of the five discs have the same clip reel behind the main menu screens?
The Office: Season Five isn't for the Jim and Pam haters. It's also not for those who wish the show hadn't changed after Season Two. It's not for the whiners, the nitpickers, or the Anglophile ninnies who can't see past the original British version of the show. It's for those of us who love these characters and can't wait to go to work with them every week.
Not Guilty. I would have liked one of those Golden Tickets, though.
Review content copyright © 2009 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 608 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site