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The Office - Season Three


TITLE: THE OFFICE - SEASON THREE


Info:

DVD Release Date: September 4, 2007 (Universal Home Video)
Color /2006-07
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 574 minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: approx. 477 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
* Deleted Scenes
* Episode Commentaries
* Excerpts from the 2006 NBC Primetime Preview hosted by the cast of The Office
* Toby Wraparounds
* Dwight Schrute Music Video
* Joss Whedon interview
* Videos from The Office “Make Your Own Promo” Contest
* Blooper Reel
* “Lazy Scranton” Video
* Excerpt from the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
* Kevin Cooks Stuff in the Office


Introduction:

Fill your inbox with hilarious moments from The Office: Season Three in this four disc collection that’s crammed with extensive bonus features and all 22 episodes of the 2006 Primetime Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Comedy Series! Steve Carell is back in his Golden Globe-winning role as earnest but clueless boss Michael Scott, who can’t help but contribute his own irreverent commentary to the Scranton branch of the Dundler Mifflin paper company. As the staff deals with potential office closures, mergers, romances, and advancement, Michael’s always there to say all the wrong things at all the right times. Including five “super-sized” episodes and over three hours of deleted scenes, The Office: Season Three is packed with classic moments from the show that Time magazine praises for “satirizing the culture of coffee, cubicles, and Chili’s with heart and laser precision.”


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

It’s The Office. I will admit I did not come to absolutely love the show until its second season, when it started to break away from the British version it is based on. Once it became its own show, though, everything clicked, and it has become great. Every episode of this show is consistently strong and consistently funny. Yes, there is no laugh track to tell you when to laugh, but that is something you adjust to quickly when you are watching a single-camera comedy. You actually get to figure out what is funny for yourself, and The Office is an extremely funny show. To me, easily the best characters on the show are Michael (Steve Carell) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson). The two provide a large amount of the show’s comedy, and easily make this one of my favorite shows. Any episode featuring either of these two characters as the primary focus is bound to have you laughing. One thing I also love about this shows is its tendency to avoid “special guest stars” whenever possible. The special guest has become an almost cliché among sitcoms, and it is good to see one avoiding it. That’s not to say it avoids the tendency entirely: Now-retired NFL player Jerome Bettis guests as himself in the episode “The Convention” in a cameo appearance.


Packaging:

The packaging, I feel, is easily the weakest element of this set. It is a standard issue Digipak inside an outer sleeve. The packaging, while nice, isn’t anything special. It feels like DVD packaging I could have seen from any other studio for any other show. For a set as otherwise wonderful as I will mention this set is time and time again, the packaging -- in my opinion -- drops the ball. However, it is really a minor gripe.

The cover art, which you can view at the top of this review, isn’t bad. It does, however, feel generic and highly Photoshopped. It’s got individual poses of cast members edited together to form a semi-cohesive cast picture, with them standing in front of also-Photoshopped-in papers that have been “thrown” in air. The textual version of the logo appears in raised blue lettering at the top. The rear of the packaging contains the show introduction written out on a clipboard-type graphic, with the special features lists being “clipped” to the side. “Taped” and/or paper clipped to the bottom are various Polaroid-style photos. All of this above a pile of jumbled up blank sheets of paper.

The front cover of the Digipak itself is better. It features a legitimate cast photo of the primary cast in a paper storage closet sitting on or standing around stacks and/or boxes of paper. This photo is attached to a bulletin board, which features the text logo pinned to the top on a sheet of graphing paper. The rear continues the bulletin board, with a “Rediscover Scranton” button, plus a few miscellaneous “notes” and photos, and the special features list scribbled on graphing paper. Opening the Digipak one level reveals…more bulletin boards, and more paper. Well, they are consistent. Opening the Digipak to its disc holders reveals the discs -- with a graphic paper type cover art, in overlapping-style disc holders on the center 2 panels, with printouts of the disc breakdowns on the left and right-most panels. Each disc features the show’s text logo, as well as the disc number scribbled on the disc’s “graphing paper” art. One problem is that the styling used for the number 1 causes it to make it look like a squished together #2 -- the 2 on Disc 2’s increased width being the biggest tip-off as to which disc is which. Below is the episodic breakdown per disc.
Disc 1: Episodes 1-7
Disc 2: Episodes 8-11 (this will hopefully be explained later)
Disc 3: Episodes 12-17
Disc 4: Episodes 18-22

A wildly inconsistent disc count, with lower numbers on discs 4 but especially 2, probably would indicate a combination of longer episodes and/or special features being concentrated on those two discs. Is that the cause? Keep reading.

As a side note: Much as nature abhors a vacuum, I abhor Digipaks -- particularly ones with the interlocking disc holders. There are much more effective disc packaging types on the market for studios to use, there is no excuse to use this often-cumbersome, easily worn packaging type in 2007, and I hope studios will consider a shift away from them. The interlocking disc models -- and this applies to other packaging types too - are absolutely awful, as you have to scratch the discs practically to just get them out. STOP PACKAGING DVDS LIKE THAT.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are extremely nice for the most part, though I did find a bizarre glitch. On each disc, the background dialogue and sound effects from the main menu carry over to the Bonus Materials menu. It is a bizarre glitch. A rather bizarre glitch I noticed almost immediately. Other than that, the menus are fantastic, with animations, sound effects, dialogue, the works. Episodes can be selected by text link on the right side from the screen. Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Materials, or Languages -- which is a glorified subtitles menu. Each sub-menu has a different portion of the office represented -- a character’s desk, a bulletin board, etc. The main menu varies on each disc, and includes such things as a videotape, as well as a Japanese restaurant. On each episode index is an option to view the show, or view the show’s deleted scenes. Runtime of said scenes is included later in the review.


Video and Audio Quality:

Video and audio quality is impeccable. Remember, this is a show from this past TV season. There should not be ANY video or audio defects on current shows, and if you see any on a DVD set, you have problems. The video is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. The color balance is perfect. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio is well used, with all channels being used for various purposes to a quality effect. There are absolutely no defects whatsoever in the A/V components of the disc’s presentation. Chapter stops begin at the immediate beginning of each return from commercial break. This transition is slightly abrupt given the show’s staging. Perhaps the chapter stops could have been place with a slight amount of black screen immediately proceeding to a quick fade in -- something other than these cold abrupt transitions. There are no alternate audio tracks in terms of languages -- just the commentary. Spanish subtitles, plus English Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing is included.

Runtimes (Remember, these times obviously do not include deleted scenes):
Disc 1:
Gay Witch Hunt: 22:04
The Convention: 21:34
The Coup: 21:13
Grief Counseling: 21:19
Initiation: 21:19
Diwali: 21:18
Branch Closing: 30:17

Disc 2:
The Merger: 29:51
The Convict: 21:18
A Benihana Christmas: 42:01
Back from Vacation: 21:17

Disc 3:
Traveling Salesmen / The Return: 42:44
Ben Franklin: 21:14
Phyllis’ Wedding: 21:15
Business School: 21:46
Cocktails: 21:17
The Negotiation: 29:32

Disc 4:
Safety Training: 21:15
Product Recall: 21:16
Women’s Appreciation: 28:57
Beach Games: 28:01
The Job: 42:26


Special Features:

Deleted Scenes: Pretty much every episode has several minutes worth of deleted scenes, which are presented on the same disc as that episode, and accessible as an option beneath the primary episode on that disc’s episode list, or via its bonus features menu. Please note: Synopses of deleted scenes will NOT be provided below: If you want to know what happens, buy the DVD (See bottom of review for details on purchasing this DVD).

Gay Witch Hunt: 8:53
The Convention: 6:17
The Coup: 8:45
Grief Counseling: 8:40
Initiation: 6:02
Diwali: 9:39
The Merger: 7:15
The Convict: 14:57
A Benihana Christmas: 5:57
Back from Vacation: 13:08
Traveling Salesmen / The Return: 26:42
Ben Franklin: 7:36
Phyllis’ Wedding: 10:33
Business School: 5:50
Cocktails: 4:26
Safety Training: 7:53
Product Recall: 12:44
Women’s Appreciation: 5:09
Beach Games: 6:34
The Job: 12:07

Commentaries:
For all commentaries, the running length is the same as the episode runtime list, listed earlier in the review.
“The Coup” -- John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Rashida Jones, and Angela Kinsey. They talk about a multitude of things, including whether to change the opening credits, meeting some of the people whose names they borrowed from, production details, and all sorts of wonderful things.

“Initiation” -- B.J. Novak, Rainn Wilson, and Leslie David Baker. Lots more of the above, with Rainn again plus a couple of others. The commentary appears to start in the middle of a conversation the three were having before the commentary track started.

“Traveling Salesmen/The Return” -- John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Rashida Jones, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, and show editor Dave Rogers. Usually, once you get past around five people in a commentary track, they tend to get messy. They actually manage to make the large group work on this one.

“Business School” -- BJ Novak, Rainn Wilson, and show writer Brent Forrester.

“Safety Training” -- BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling, and show director Harold Ramis.

“Women’s Appreciation” -- Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery, and show writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky.

“Beach Games” -- Ed Helms, Brian Baumgartner, show writer Jennifer Celotta, and Harold Ramis.

“The Jobs -- John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rashida Jones, Melora Hardin, show director Ken Kwapis, and Dave Rogers.

Kevin Cooks Stuff in The Office (5:00): A bizarre little 5 minute skit featuring Kevin…cooking…in the Office, except it is mostly him meandering around the office, with some microwaving at one point.

Excerpt from the 2006 NBC Primetime Preview (8:11): These are the bits that The Office cast hosted. The show clips themselves have obviously been removed -- due to licensing issues as well as the fact that aside from Heroes’ success, this season wasn’t very good for NBC...again.

Toby Wraparounds (2:48): Toby does little wraparound things.

Dwight Schrute Music Video (2:09): Now this is quality entertainment.

Joss Whedon interview (1:00): He directed an episode, and so they interviewed him. By interview, I mean this is a minute of assorted thoughts by him on the episode with clips of his episodes interspersed.

Videos from Make Your Own Promo Contest (2:52): Includes three Grand Prize Winners plus three finalists. I will let you watch these for yourselves.

Blooper Reel (13:44): For how funny the show is, the bloopers are even better. Some are of the cast just goofing off intentionally, while others are traditional screw-up type bloopers.

Lazy Scranton Video (2:12): The orientation video based on the SNL Lazy Sunday video -- the Lazy Sunday video being what helped launched YouTube into the mainstream.

Excerpt from the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1:14): Features the portion of Conan’s opening skit involving “The Office.” Good stuff, though I still think the “To Catch a Predator” take was actually funnier.

Total Runtime of Special Features (drum roll please): 477 minutes, 14 seconds (counting audio commentaries). That took quite a bit of monkeying to properly calculate that number. That is NOT a small number. Even if at times it did not seem like there was actually a lot here, the deleted scenes and commentaries REALLY made up the difference.


Final Comments:

I want to give this set a 5/5. I really do. I love the show, and most aspects of the set are flawless. However, just some noticeable problems keep me from giving a perfect score. The glitch involving the menu audio is a big one. I could overlook it if it was the main theme playing in the background, but as Universal elected to use specialized main menus; the bonus features menus now have random irrelevant audio playing behind them. I really appreciate what Universal was trying to do -- it is just the application of the effort fell a bit short. I also *really* dislike Digipaks, and any packaging type that uses interlocking disc holders. I realize you save a few cents in production costs, but if it increases the rate at which sets need to be replaced due to scratching -- that creates angry customers, many calls to the company, and many new sets having to go out to customers as replacements instead of on store shelves...which ultimately loses studios money.

For the next set, just fix what was wrong with this one: Audio glitch, poor typeface choice, packaging type. In addition, maybe add slightly more substantive special features. Special features are wonderful, and I hope you keep them up. But there’s got to be original content you can make that’s more captivating than some of the stuff I saw here -- stuff I wasn’t completely sold on, honestly.

What is here IS great aside from the above, and there is no valid reason to not buy this set. The humor is top notch, the characters are wonderful -- unlike many sitcoms, the show actually has some semblance of recurrence, in that some issues actually carry over between episodes. This is a wonderful show, and you would be doing yourself a favor to buy it. Strongly recommended.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 08/30/07

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000SINT4S/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=208243


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