DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: approx 268 minutes (excluding commentary)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* 100 Episodes, 100 Moments
* Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents The Office
* The Office Promos
* Episode Commentaries
Scranton’s most outrageous workforce is back to give their clients the business in the fifth hilarious season of The Office. Join obnoxious regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his fellow paper pushers Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Jim (John Krasinski), Pam (Jenna Fischer), Ryan (BJ Novak) and all the rest as they steal customers, frame co-workers, indulge in intra-office love affairs, and just plain behave badly while a documentary film crew captures their every word and misdeed.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The series starts off with an hour-long premiere, “Weight Loss”. Ryan returns to Scranton, again as a temp, while the whole Office participates in a company-wide weight loss challenge. As you can imagine, it doesn’t particularly go well.
Airing after the Super Bowl this year was the two-parter “Stress Relief.” One of Dwight’s antics causes Stanley to have a heart attack and raises everyone else’s stress to the maximum. Michael tries to get everyone to relax only to discover that he is in fact the cause of much of the stress -- leading to his staging a roast for himself. Michael, however, gets hurt at the comments at the roast and leaves upset -- everything is ultimately resolved at the end, with Michael getting over his hurt feelings the next day and roasting everyone back in the office.This episode also features a rare set of guest appearances. In the episode, Jim & Pam watch a bootleg movie with Andy. The fictional movie features Jack Black, Jessica Alba, and Cloris Leachman. It’s a welcome sight to see the guest stars appearing in a context that makes sense. The episode, overall, is easily my favorite of the season.
The episode “New Boss” launches a multiple-episode story arc that sees Michael quit Dunder Mifflin and form his own paper company after clashing with a new boss (played by Idris Elba from The Wire). Michael’s paper company is solvent long enough to eventually be bought out by Dunder Mifflin, eventually restoring the natural order of things.
The season finale, “Company Picnic,” is the show’s 100th episode (assuming that you number hour-long shows as two episodes, anyway). Most of the staff plays some volleyball, while Michael and Holly perform a parody of Slumdog Millionaire, accidentally revealing in the process that the Buffalo branch is closing, a fact told to Michael in-confidence that hadn’t been announced yet. In the volleyball story, it’s shown that Pam is in fact a surprisingly good player, and as a result the Scranton branch faces off against the main office in the finals. Pam hurts her ankle, but wants to continue. Charles (the aforementioned Idris Elba), now back with Corporate, wants Pam -- Scranton’s best player -- out of the game “due to the injury.” Jim, though, has Dwight stall while he takes Pam to the hospital. At the end of the episode, the doctor informs the two of something, (the news isn’t heard by the camera crew), causing Jim to call Dwight and tell him to send in substitute players. Though never explicitly stated, it’s strongly hinted in the episode that Pam is pregnant.
It’s a Digipak. In 2009, this is an event to take notice of and celebrate. NBC/Universal is essentially the last holdout with regards to those clear plastic cases I despise so much. Studios, particularly Fox and CBS/Paramount, are not only releasing new sets in those packages but they’re rereleasing older sets in them as well. While standardization has its benefits, it would have been nice for them to settle on a more reliable packaging type--Universal, thankfully, remains loyal with the artwork-heavy Digipak. The front artwork you’ve likely already seen, since it’s at the top of this review. The disc holder itself though is made to resemble one of those glass-case bulletin boards you often see in offices. The front panel features a building director -- Dunder Mifflin, for example, is suite 200. Inside the remaining panels of the case are various photos, schedules, an episode list, and other odds and ends. The three panels with disc holders in front feature a large panoramic shot of the cast, in groups of three, with the five silver discs in front. As for disc placement, discs 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 use overlapping disc holders, while the fifth is on its own. Episodes 1-5 are on disc 1. 6-11 are on 2. 12-16 are on 3. 17-22 are on 4, and the final 4 episodes are on the 5th disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The problem I have with the otherwise-good menus can be summarized in exactly one sentence: The first thing you see on the main menu is Rainn Wilson with his pants down. Beyond that, however, you do have well-designed menus. Various interview clips from the documentary portions of the episodes play. The clips continue to play for a couple of minutes before looping. While not the best menu scheme ever, it’s certainly better than 95% of other TV DVD menus. Sub-menus once again take the bulletin board cabinet style used in the packaging.
Video and Audio Quality:
Video and audio quality is as flawless as standard-definition formats allow. The video quality is great, as you might expect. Audio quality is great, as you might expect. Chapter stops are placed in several locations throughout the episode, for your convenience. They can be found following the opening titles, as well as after each act -- aside from skipping credits occasionally their only real use is for quickly catching up to an episode if you have to interrupt it halfway -- or for re-watching one scene.
Since the show is from an era where DVD releases are planned on, and since the releasing studio has put a great deal of pride into the released product...there are no discernable edits, nor are there disclaimers about such.
Runtimes (Remember these times obviously do not include deleted scenes):
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).
For all commentaries, the running length is the same as the episode runtime list, listed earlier in the review. One thing you’ll notice immediately is the episodes featuring commentary from people OTHER than the on-air talent or top-line producers on several occasions -- a welcome refresh to commentaries.
Weight Loss: Randy Cordray, Michael Gallenberg, Brain Wittle, Nick Carbone, Ben Patrick, Alysia Raycraft, Kelly Cantley, Jake Aust.
Business Ethics: Hosted by BJ Novak, with Peter & Vartan (Craft Services) and Sergio & Alan (Catering). Catering and Craft Services are the two main food departments on a TV set, leading to BJ’s introduction as “the 4 most loved crewmembers on the set”.
Employee Transfer: Dave Rogers, Anthony Farrell, Veda Semarne, Chuck Conzoneri, Kyle Alexander, Phil Shea
Customer Survey: Stephen Merchant, Paul Lieberstein, Mindy Kaling
Moroccan Christmas: Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Brian Baumgartner
The Duel: Rainn Wilson, Rusty Mahmood, Jennifer Celotta, Dean Holland
Dream Team: BJ Novak, Aaron Shure, Charlie Grandy, Matt Sohn
Michael Scott Paper Company: Jenna Fischer, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg, Justin Spitzer
Company Picnic: Paul Lieberstein, Ken Kwapis, Jennifer Celotta
Gag Reel (14:48): Various bloopers from the season.
100 Episodes, 100 Moments (8:45): 100 of the craziest moments from the series’ first 5 years.
Academy of TV Arts & Sciences (30:01): A panel discussion, moderated by Andy Richter of all people, with the cast and crew.
The Office Promos (4:44): Various promos that aired during both the Super Bowl and the Beijing Olympics.
Webisodes (20:17 worth): Two additional The Office webisodes that originally “aired” online.
Total runtime, excluding commentary: approx 268 minutes
It’s a great show, and a great set, and it’ll be extremely interesting to see how the show is continued this fall. It’s the funniest show on broadcast TV right now, in my opinion, and I highly recommend the fifth season. The menu of special features for season 5 is slightly weaker than season 4, but otherwise it’s another great set for another great show. VERY STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.