Original Airing: 2008-2009
Length: 26 episodes (9 hours, 46 mins), plus 2 webisode serials totalling 20 mins
Genre: Comic Mockumentary
BD Resolution: 1080p 1.78:1 Widescreen
BD Video Codec: VC-1 @ over 20 mpbs
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: Unrated (TV-safe Innuendos and Language)
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Rating: 3 ½
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak and Rainn Wilson
Adapted and Executive Produced by: Greg Daniels
From the British TV Series by: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
The Office: Season 5 is a 4-disc Blu-ray collection of the fifth season of the hit NBC adaptation of the British comedy series about the goings-on in the Scranton branch office of an insufferable paper company. The series is filmed in the manner of a documentary, complete with inset interviews of the characters, suggesting that the mayhem onscreen might really be happening. The humor of the show is the same sort of viscerally uncomfortable kind that Ricky Gervais has trademarked throughout his career. The series will certainly impress and entertain people that enjoy that brand of humor – and there’s a big audience that will go for this, based on the ratings and the prior sales. I found some moments of this to be too toxic to enjoy, but there are plenty of other moments in Season 5 that are actually a lot more palatable.
The Blu-ray set includes all 26 episodes of the 5th season in 1080p HD picture and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound, along with a gravy boat of extras, including ten commentaries, deleted scenes, and a host of other features, including a “One-Liner Soundboard” and a video of the panel appearance for the series at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. There’s more than enough here to satisfy the casual fan of the series, and there are a couple of things here (particularly the commentary on “Customer Survey”) that may by themselves justify the purchase of this set.
VIDEO QUALITY3 ½
The Office: Season 5 is presented in a 1080p transfer that shows off a clear picture and accurate flesh tones. That said, I don’t know that there’s much to this series that carries the kind of detail that a high definition picture can reveal. It’s nice to see this show on Blu-ray, but if the picture is the primary draw, I can’t say that this is a major attraction with this title. I should note that I am viewing this season set on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone with a larger HDTV (60” or more) notices a problem with the picture quality, please comment within this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 3 ½
The Office: Season 5 is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that focuses on the front channels but does bring the surrounds to good effect in various situations where atmospheric sound can enhance the scene. To be sure, this isn’t that immersive of a mix, and most of the sound comes from the front channels for the dialogue, but it certainly is clear and the dialogue is easy to understand.
DISC BY DISC:
As I normally do with TV series sets, I think it will work better here to account for what can be found on each disc, in order. To save time, I’ll note that the ten commentaries are all scene-specific group affairs, with a fair amount of laughter and cross-talk going on between the participants. The deleted scenes are all presented in high definition picture and 2.0 sound.
The discs also contain the usual My Scenes bookmarking and BD-Live functionality of all Universal Blu-ray releases. The BD-Live functionality also applies to the One-Liner Soundboard, which can be shared with other viewers online.
Weight Loss (includes commentary with Randy Cordray, Michael Gallenberg, Brian Wittle, Nick Carbone, Ben Patrick, Alysia Roycraft, Kelly Cantley and Jake Aust), with deleted scenes (16:15). I should note that this episode runs at over 42 minutes, meaning that it was a special one-hour edition of the series.
Business Ethics,(includes commentary with B.J. Novak and Peter & Vartan [Craft Service] and Sergio & Alan [Catering]), with deleted scenes (12:47). I have to say that this commentary really took me aback: I kid you not – this whole discussion is about what foods the cast and crew of the show eat every day! I was thinking they would change the subject at some point, but NO! I recommend this commentary only to those people who really need to know which cast members like to have an egg white scramble for breakfast.
Baby Shower, with deleted scenes (11:23).
Crime Aid, with deleted scenes (7:34)
Employee Transfer (includes commentary with Dave Rogers, Anthony Farrell, Veda Semarne, Chuck Canzoneri, Kyle Alexander and Phil Shea), with deleted scenes (8:00)
Customer Survey (includes commentary with Stephen Merchant, Paul Lieberstein and Mindy Kaling), with deleted scenes (6:17). This episode may be the best one of the season, and it’s accompanied by the best commentary in the bunch. What makes this stand out is that the director is Stephen Merchant, who created the original BBC series with Ricky Gervais. Back in the 3rd season, he and Gervais submitted a script (“Prison Mike”) which went over very well. This time around, Merchant is involved all the way from script development through production. The actual plot centers on Dwight and Jim getting low performance ratings from the customers, but it’s the way the story is executed that sends things through the roof. One role-playing sequence is lifted directly from Merchant’s own office background and it really is a scream. Topping the episode is the VERY dry comic commentary from Merchant and two of the show’s writer-producers. There are enough funny moments in the commentary alone to justify both getting this DVD set and to justify getting Merchant back to do more episodes, in my opinion.
This disc also contains:
One-Liner Soundboard – This feature allows the viewer to mix together favourite quotes from each of the show’s characters, and even to share them online via BD-Live. For myself, this was not that big of a deal, but I’m sure that some fans will have a lot of fun with it. THIS FEATURE IS EXCLUSIVE TO THE BLU-RAY RELEASE.
Business Trip, with deleted scenes (8:07)
Frame Toby, with a deleted scene (1:27)
The Surplus, with deleted scenes (7:03)
Moroccan Christmas (includes commentary with Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey and Brian Baumgarten) with deleted scenes (6:53).
The Duel (includes commentary with Rainn Wilson, Rusty Mahmoud, Jennifer Celotta and Dean Holland), with deleted scenes (10:14)
Prince Family Paper, with deleted scenes (6:47)
Stress Relief, with deleted scenes (26:55 total) I have to say that this is a significant amount of deleted material!
Lecture Circuit, pt 1, with a deleted scene (2:33)
Lecture Circuit, pt 2, with a deleted scene (1:33).
Blood Drive, with deleted scenes (5:29).
Golden Ticket, with deleted scenes (6:06)
New Boss, with deleted scenes (3:49)
Two Weeks, with deleted scenes (4:25)
Dream Team, (includes commentary with B.J. Novak, Aaron Schute, Charlie Grandy and Matt Sohn), and deleted scenes (5:09).
Michael Scott Paper Company, (includes commentary with Jenna Fischer, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg and Justin Spitzer), with deleted scenes (10:26).
Heavy Competition with deleted scenes (3:15)
Broke , with deleted scenes (9:32)
Casual Friday, (includes commentary with Creed Bratton, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Brent Forrester and Claire Scanlon), with deleted scenes (3:55).
Cafe Disco, with deleted scenes (3:36)
Company Picnic, (includes commentary with Paul Lieberstein, Ken Kwapis and Jennifer Celotta), with deleted scenes (4:27). The final episode of the season has to be seen up to the final moments for the viewer to truly understand what is coming in the fall for this show. The best part of the key scene is that while the dialogue cannot be heard, the pantomime makes the information perfectly clear.
This disc also contains:
Gag Reel (14:48, 1080p) – Nearly fifteen minutes of blown takes and cast breakups are featured here.
100 Episodes, 100 Moments (1080p, 8:43) – A single favourite moment from each of the 100 episodes of this series is presented here in high definition. It’s truly a dizzying ride.
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: The Office (480p, Full Frame, 30:02)– A panel discussion at the Academy featuring the cast, writers and Greg Daniels, is presented here in standard definition. It’s interesting to listen to everyone talk about the evolution of the series, but I can’t say that anything truly groundbreaking is revealed. One interesting sidenote is the admission by castmembers of which ones actually have seen the Gervais BBC series and which ones have not, as well as the notion that the filming style was designed to emulate the late great HBO series The Larry Sanders Show.
Promos (1080p, 2:31 and 2:08 respectively) – Specially-filmed promos aired during the 2009 Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, are presented here in high definition.
Webisodes (1080p, 20:18 total) – Just over 20 minutes of webisode material is included here for completion’s sake, in high definition. One series is titled “Kevin’s Loan”, and the other one is “the Outburst.”.
Subtitles are available in English and Spanish for the episodes and for the special features. Standard chapter menus are included for quick reference. The usual Blu-ray pop-up menus work fine. In the event that you pause the show for more than a few minutes, a Universal Logo will appear as a screensaver. For my PS3, I only need to hit the “Enter” button to get back into the episode in progress. Regarding the packaging, as with other TV season releases, there’s an odd setup here where several of the discs are packed in a way that you must remove one disc to get to the other.
IN THE END...
The Office: Season 5 goes a pretty long way toward making me consider watching this series. The episodes are stronger overall than the prior season, particularly the one I have noted that had the benefit of Stephen Merchant’s direction. The loading of special features on this Blu-ray set is another plus, and I cannot help but recommend this set at least for rental if not for purchase.
Kevin KosterSeptember 27, 2009.