Universal // 2010 // 610 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 14th, 2011
"I suppose summer had to end sometime. It's sad though, because I had a great summer. I got West Nile Virus, lost a ton of weight. Then I went back to the lake. And I stepped on a piece of glass in the parking lot, which hurt. That got infected even though I peed on it. Saw Inception. Or at least I dreamt I did..." -- Michael Scott
It's the little show that could. Who could have known that a remake of the BBC hit show The Office would go on to become one of TV's best and brightest comedies of the last decade? Year after year has brought more wildly awkward situations for the workers at Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company and the currant antics have all been captured for your amusement on The Office: Season Seven, now available on Blu-ray care of Universal Home Entertainment.
The gang at Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company -- as socially inept as ever -- are about to have their worlds shaken up. Season Seven brings a lot of changes for everyone; Jim (John Krasinski, Leatherheads) and Pam (Jenna Fischer, Blades of Glory) are dealing with their new duties as parents of a little girl; Ryan (BJ Novak, Inglourious Basterds) is trying to get his new WUPHF.com website off the ground, while Kelly (Mindy Kaling) continues to drive him up a wall; uptight Angela (Angela Kinsey) falls head over heels for a state senator whom Oscar (Oscar Nunez) is sure is as deep in the closet as one can get; Dwight K. Schrute (Rainn Wilson, Super) attempts to lord his power over his coworkers by becoming the building's new landlord; and clueless Michael Scott (Steve Carrell, Crazy Stupid Love) attempts to restart his romance with Holly (Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone) only to find himself at a crossroads as the season comes to a close.
What makes The Office such a wonderfully amusing experience is that it has grown into one of the best ensemble comedies ever unleashed on television. While there are some characters who stand front and center, others walk into the frame for only a few minutes, leaving an indelible and highly funny impression. As hard as it is to believe, there really aren't any weak links in The Office; it's a show that has been perfectly cast down to the security guard and janitorial staff.
In comparison to more recent seasons, The Office is strong, funny, and poignant in ways the series didn't hint at during its initial few. As the show has grown, we've grown to love these characters who are wildly absurd and over the top but infused with a fair dose of humanity. Although Rainn Wilson's Dwight is a complete ass, he's also a character we have pity for -- I'm thinking specifically of an episode where Jim shared in Dwight's sadness over losing Angela, even though the two are mortal workplace enemies. It's these small moments that have made the show more than just a workplace laugh fest; it's also a mirror of ourselves.
Season Seven is, of course, where Steve Carell's Michael Scott finally takes flight from the series. His departure strikes just the right balance between humor and nostalgia. In fact, when Michael finally exits the show, it actually brought a slight tear to my eye. It's a special TV show that can do that -- tell me, when was the last time you shed a tear because someone on The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men did something with any real resonance?
Lest I make The Office sound like a humorous version of Six Feet Under, the show is really about the laughs. And while they come fast and furious during the seventh season, the biggest laughs are often from the background characters. Oscar's reaction to Angela dating a state senator clearly in the closet offers him a chance to make some fantastic observations. Jim and Pam's newly acquired parenthood finds them balancing trying to work and have a social life with being a mom and dad -- I especially loved Kelly's (Ellie Kemper, Bridesmaids) attempt at babysitting that ends in everyone being at a staged version of Sweeney Todd. Even other characters with smaller amounts of screen time (such as Creed Bratton and Toby Flenderson) can't help but make the most of their bizarrely funny moments.
The Office also offers a few disappointments. Darryl's (Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine) move from the warehouse to the upstairs offices has curbed his appeal and dulled his character's edge. The love triangle between Kelly (Kemper), the creepy undertaker-esque Gabe (Zach Woods, The Other Guys) and poor Andy Bernard (Ed Helms, The Hangover II) fizzles and loses steam, although the fact that Gabe makes the meek Kelly watch horror movies is fairly amusing.
The season's biggest misstep was allowing big name superstars to show up. Will Ferrell makes an extended cameo as Deangelo Vickers, Michael's temporary replacement, and turns in the least funny performance of his career. Add a season full of cameos by Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, and Catherine Tate and you've got a show that comes close to folding under the weight of its own celebrity (which is sad, since the show was built around everyday people in their workplace). The writers need to learn that viewers don't come to The Office to see A-list celebrities, but rather the cast they've come to love.
Each episode of The Office: Season Seven is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p high definition. The overall effect of this transfer is good, but not great. Due to the 'mockumentary' style of the show, there are moments where digital artifacting, compression. and other imperfections creep in. Yes, there are some fine moments of detail and clarity (especially during the outdoor scenes), but overall this is a decent if not stellar presentation. The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround in English. Much like the video presentation the sound is up to the task, but never overly impressive. This isn't a sound effects heavy comedy and thus features a lot of ambience and very little else. There are a few moments when the soundtrack really kicks in (like when Andy Bernard is doing musical theatre), but overall this is a standard mix. Also included are Spanish and English subtitles.
The bonud features included on The Office: Season Seven (Blu-ray) are more than substantial enough to satisfy any diehard Dunder-Mifflinite.
Included with this four-disc set...
* Five Episode Commentaries -- "Nepotism," "Threat Level Midnight," "Goodbye Michael," and "Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager," with participants BJ Novak, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson, Paul Lieberstein, Greg Daniels, Claire Scanlon, Angela Kinsey, Brian Baumgartner, David Rogers, Ellie Kemper, Mindy Kaling, Steve Hely, and Justin Spitzer.
* More than Two Hours of Deleted and Extended Scenes -- from the episodes "Nepotism," "Counseling," "Andy's Play," "Sex Ed," "The Sting," "Costume Contest," "Christening," "Viewing Party," "WUPHF.COM," "China," "Ultimatum," "PDA," "The Seminar," "Classy Christmas," "Todd Packer," "Garage Sale," "Michael's Last Dundies," "Goodbye Michael," "The Inner Circle" and "Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager."
* The uncut version of Michael Scott's opus "Threat Level Midnight."
* Eight minutes of Webisodes, wherein some of the employees making a horror movie that is just...well, horrible.
* Blooper Reel
* BD-Live Content
* Bookmarking Capabilities
Quibbles aside, The Office: Season Seven is a strong entry in the show's history and offers viewers both a funny look at continually mundane office life and a few moments of emotional resonance. Though I don't look forward to the end of Michael Scott, I am looking forward to seeing where the show will go from here. All things indicate it could be somewhere good.
The Office is still a worthwhile show that will hopefully keep its bearings even after the departure of its beloved star.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 610 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Uncut Episode
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site