Judge Erich Asperschlager has been looking everywhere for a Princess Unicorn doll.
Our reviews of The Office (UK) Special Edition (published December 1st, 2011), The Office: Season Two (published September 18th, 2006), The Office: Season Three (published September 4th, 2007), The Office: Season Four (published September 2nd, 2008), The Office: Season Five (Blu-ray) (published September 8th, 2009), The Office: Season Six (published September 7th, 2010), The Office: Season Six (Blu-ray) (published September 13th, 2010), The Office: Season Seven (published September 22nd, 2011), The Office: Season Seven (Blu-ray) (published September 14th, 2011), The Office: Season Eight (Blu-ray) (published September 2nd, 2012), and The Office: Season One (published October 5th, 2005) are also available.
"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.
Facts of the Case
The Office: Season Five has 26 episodes, across 5 discs:
• "Business Ethics"
• "Baby Shower"
• "Crime Aid"
• "Employee Transfer"
• "Business Trip"
• "Frame Toby"
• "The Surplus"
• "Moroccan Christmas"
• "The Duel"
• "Stress Relief"
• "Lecture Circuit: Part 1"
• "Lecture Circuit: Part 2"
• "Blood Drive"
• "New Boss"
• "Two Weeks"
• "Dream Team"
• "The Michael Scott Paper Company"
• "Heavy Competition"
• "Casual Friday"
• "Cafe Disco"
• "Company Picnic"
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.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
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.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Episode Commentaries
Review content copyright © 2009 Erich Asperschlager; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.