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The Office: The Complete Series (2005-2013)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/7/2014

All Ratings out of


Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/1/2014

If you asked the average person if they are smart, what would their answer be? One would hope that the answer would be yes, as it's depressing to think of people as seeing themselves as not being smart. However, when one looks at the landscape of pop-culture, one has to wonder one many individuals are truly "with it". A lot of movies, music, and especially television seems to be aimed directly at the middle and the lack of true intelligence in TV programming can often be off-putting. Every year, we see the same sit-coms trotted out and then everyone wonders why they are cancelled so quickly. Therefore, if a truly intelligent show can not only make it to the air, but last a season, it's a true feat. The fact that The Office ran for nine seasons is nothing short of a miracle. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has now brought the complete series to us in a new boxed set.

The Office takes place in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company, a mid-level office supply firm. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is the regional manager. He is a self-centered blowhard who is prone to malaprops. And yet, he views himself as a great boss who is beloved by his employees. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) is the office goof-off -- an amiable slacker who excels at his job without even trying, leaving plenty of time to torment Dwight Schrute (Rain Wilson). Dwight, who is a beet farmer in his spare time, is a very strict worker, who acts as a sycophant to Michael. Jim also likes to spend time flirting with Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), the receptionist, despite the fact that she is engaged. Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) is a curmudgeon who hates to be bothered. Phyllis Lapin (Phyllis Smith) is seen as the grandmotherly type in the office, despite the fact that she went to high school with Michael. Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) is uptight and judgmental. Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) has a secret which will eventually come out. Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) works in accounting, but he appears to have the mind of a child. Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) is old and crazy. Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) is a non-stop chatterbox who works in customer service and is obsessed with Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), the temp (as is Michael). Finally, Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) is the sad-sack HR rep who Michael hates, as he has no authority over him. This rag-tag team, which changed somewhat over the years, attempts to keep Dunder-Mifflin afloat by dealing with the havoc which Michael creates.

Many, many times in the past, I've written about how Hollywood is out-of-touch with the lives of everyday Americans. But, every now and then, they get it and The Office is a perfect example of this. Based on the British TV series of the same name created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, this version, developed by Greg Daniels, has a distinctly American flavor. One of the main reasons that the show works is that it so clearly nails the various personalities which one gets in a work environment and how weird office politics can be. If you have ever had a job with a group of people, something about The Office will hit home with you and you'll wonder if someone has been spying on your life.

It's the characters which really drive the show. Michael Scott is the epitome of the boss who fell into the position -- he had been in sales with Dunder-Mifflin -- and has no idea what to do in the role. He loves being in charge, but he hates responsibility. He also gets into everyone's business and doesn't understand personal boundaries. If you've ever felt that you were smarter than your boss, then The Office has something to offer you. Jim is the character with which I identified most (which should tell you something about me), and we've all worked with people like Dwight and Angela -- those who never outgrew being a Teacher's Pet and who will inevitably do something which causes everyone to have to stay late.

Yes, Michael Scott is truly the center of the show. Even when he was unlikable, he carried the series. (One of the great things about this boxed set is seeing how the characters evolve, especially Michael, who is somewhat of a jackass in the first season.) So, when Carell left the show in Season Seven, the series definitely took a hit. It would go on for another season and a half, but the show was simply never the same once Michael left. Yes, the "job search" story arc was fun, as it brought in some great cameo appearances, but once Carell left, it became all too apparent that, despite having an incredibly solid supporting cast, he had indeed carried the show. And with that, we also realized that no one plays this sort of role like Carell. Michael was a huge ball of arrogance and insecurity and Carell nailed it, especially in the moments when Michael would break down and cry.

So, let's now return to our original point. I stated that The Office will appeal to anyone who has experience in the workplace. While this is true, the show is truly aimed at those who enjoy their humor with a heaping dose of cynicism and cleverness. Sure, the show is filled with broad humor will most anyone can appreciate, but the true essence lies in the more subtle jokes, which often involve quick wordplay, such as when Michael confused "philanthropist" with "philanderer". These jokes are aimed at those who value an "us against them" mentality and understand that there is an excellent reason to question authority.

There had been workplace comedies before The Office and I'm sure that there are still plenty to come, but nothing else will ever match the comic genius of this show. It dared to reflect the absurd working conditions which many of us endure and we couldn't help but laugh along with it. This handsome boxed set contains all nine seasons of The Office, each of which is housed in its own individual case, which I prefer to a giant stack of discs which blend seasons. If you are a fan of the show and you don't already have it on home video, then this is a no-brainer. Or this would make a perfect gift for that special someone in your life who hates their boss.

The Office: The Complete Series should not have had all of that fettucini on DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. All nine seasons of the show are included here and have been spread across 38 DVDs. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. As we are talking about 187 episodes, the quality of the video varies somewhat, but for the most part, the image is sharp and clear. The first season shows a small amount of grain, but this is gone by Season Two. The colors look good, and as the show is faux documentary, the tones are natural. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is somewhat soft at times, but the detail is never in question. Season One has a Dolby 2.0 audio track, while the remaining seasons all sport Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. All tracks provide clear dialogue and sound effects. While Season One clearly has its limits, the other seasons sound fine, offering some notable stereo effects, most of which highlight off-screen sounds, and a few surround sound effects. Some music offers scattered subwoofer effects.

As noted above, the boxed set contains what amounts to each individual season DVD release. Therefore, we are treated to all of the extra features which accompanied those releases. To list them all here would take up the space of another entire review -- Suffice it to say that there is plenty here for fans of the show. Each disc is packed with deleted scenes and bloopers. We also get audio commentaries from the creative team and the cast. NBC has been known for extended (Once called "Super-Size") episodes, and any that qualify are included here. The discs do a great job of including promotional pieces as well, such as music videos, webisodes, original shorts, and award show appearances. I've seen some sets like this which dispense of the extras, but not here. There are many hours worth and there are truly some gems to be found.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long