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The Office - Season Eight (Blu-ray)


TITLE: THE OFFICE - SEASON EIGHT (BLU-RAY) (DVD)


Info:

DVD Release Date: September 4, 2012 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Color /2011-12
MSRP: $49.98 (DVD); $59.98 (DVD/Blu-ray/Ultraviolet Combo)
Number of Discs: 5 (both sets)
Packaging: Digipak
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 530 minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: 134 minutes
Video resolution: 480i/p [DVD], 1080p [Blu-ray]
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English [DVD]; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English [BD]
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Producer's Extended Cut episodes; bloopers; Football Championship Promos


Introduction:

Join the employees of Dunder Mifflin for another season of The Office in The Office - Season Eight! The eighth season of the NBC series follows the employees of the not-so-stable paper (and now technology products) company as they struggle to make it through each and every day, at least until 5 o'clock each weekday.

The eighth season, of course, is practically a completely different series with new dynamics. Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), the regional manager of the Scranton branch, is no longer there to lead his crew after leaving to marry and be with the love of his life (well, at least one of them) at the end of the seventh season. But the rest of the office staff is there and now being led by Andy (Ed Helms), along with a few new faces, including James Spader as CEO Robert California and the slightly insane Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate), who is always trying to make power moves at every opportunity. Along the way, some of the office crew heads down to Florida (with Dwight as their leader) to assist in a new tech product launch, and there are a few pregnancies going around the office. You'll find all of it and more in the eighth season of The Office!


Episodes:

The staff is trying to figure out why their names are written in a notebook under two columns in the season premiere, "The List." In "The Incentive," Robert California challenges the office to double their sales. The warehouse workers win the lottery in "Lotto," resulting in every single one of them quitting their job. Andy tries to impress Robert with a party at Schrute Farms in "Garden Party." In "Spooked," Erin tries to help Andy and Robert make Halloween especially scary at Dunder Mifflin. Dwight installs a device which threatens the entire office staff if they make too many mistakes in "Doomsday."

Pam is convinced that Jim is attracted to the new temp employee in "Pam's Replacement." In "Gettysburg," Andy decides to take the office on a little field trip. Robert brings his wife into the office to find her a job in "Mrs. California." It's another Christmas party at the office in "Christmas Wishes." In "Trivia," Andy decides to get the entire office involved in Oscar's trivia night contest. Robert just finished up his divorce, but he is going to give the entire office staff a tour of his mansion before selling it in "Pool Party."

Jim is on jury duty and Angela welcomes home a new baby... who could have beet breeding DNA... in "Jury Duty." Dwight is assigned to put together his own team for something new in "Special Project." In "Tallahassee," some of the staff is down in Florida working on the new "pyramid" of a special project, and Dwight wants to impress the special projects president in the process. With half of the office staff gone, Andy has to make everybody work overtime in "After Hours." Dwight puts on a show at the Sabre Store opening (in yet another attempt to impress Nellie) in "Test the Store."

It is revealed that Robert California hates Nellie's business plan in "Last Day in Florida," but the news could be even worse for Andy when he realizes Erin may not be coming back. In "Get the Girl," Andy has to do whatever he can to win back Erin, but in the meantime, he is about to jump into a power struggle with Nellie. Robert's welcome party for Nellie may be sabotaged by the office staff in "Welcome Party." Andy is back in Scranton in "Angry Andy," but is his job still there?

In "Fundraiser," Andy ends up adopting twelve disabled dogs after crashing a fundraiser. Andy sees a golden opportunity which could shake up the office... again... in "Turf War." The season ends with "Free Family Portrait," where Dwight sets up a free family portrait day in the office with one goal: to determine, once and for all, the paternity of Angela's baby!

The episodes seem to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The List" (22:09)
2. "The Incentive" (22:09)
3. "Lotto" (22:07)
4. "Garden Party" (22:06)
5. "Spooked" (22:07)
6. "Doomsday" (22:06)

Disc 2:
7. "Pam's Replacement" (22:08)
8. "Gettysburg" (22:08)
9. "Mrs. California" (22:08)
10. "Christmas Wishes" (22:08)
11. "Trivia" (22:09)
12. "Pool Party" (22:07)

Disc 3:
13. "Jury Duty" (22:06)
14. "Special Project" (22:08)
15. "Tallahassee" (22:06)
16. "After Hours" (22:08)
17. "Test the Store" (22:10)

Disc 4:
18. "Last Day in Florida" (22:07)
19. "Get the Girl" (22:08)
20. "Welcome Party" (22:07)
21. "Angry Andy" (22:08)
- Producer's Extended Cut (33:20)

Disc 5:
22. "Fundraiser" (22:08)
- Producer's Extended Cut (25:49)
23. "Turf War" (22:06)
24. "Free Family Portrait Studio" (22:08)


Packaging:

We've only reviewed the combo set, but the packaging is virtually identical for both sets. Like previous releases, the set comes packaged in a standard digipak inside of a cardboard sleeve. The artwork on the outer sleeve has a photo of the cast from the season... all nineteen significant cast members (who knew there were so many?) on a white background. The back has a few episode snapshots and a description of the season along with Dwight standing in front of a dry erase board that lists all of the special features (he is even holding a marker in it). Once you get to the digipak inside, you'll find artwork that is designed like a sales sheet for the Sabre Pyramid Tablet (you'll have to watch the season to understand the meaning). Episode titles and descriptions are printed on the outside panels, and on the inside, you'll find the discs. Both the DVD and combo sets contain five discs, and as usual, some of the discs overlap one another... and it isn't easy to take out the bottom layer discs (you have to slide them under the plastic). The really bad news with this set is how they managed to put together the combo discs. Remember those two-sided flipper discs that Universal used several years ago that everybody hated, and they seemed to have abandoned? Well, they're back! The combo set has the Blu-rays on side A and the DVDs on side B of each disc. Each side contains the same content for each disc.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Both of the sets begin with the main menu, which is pretty much the same on both sets. On the main menu, there is a series of video clips from the season (featuring the interviews where the cast talks to the camera). From the main menu, you have options of Play All, Episode Index (called Episodes on the Blu-ray version), Bonus (called Extras on the Blu-ray version), and Setup. The Blu-ray also has a How To menu, which helps you learn how to use your Blu-ray player... which hopefully you know by now. All of the menus on the Blu-ray set are pop-up menus, where you get to see whichever option you choose on top of the main menu. The DVDs, on the other hand, take you to very basic submenus which have a white background and a still photo of the cast member on each screen. The special features can all be found on the Bonus or Extras menu (not sure why they saw a need to title them differently), and Setup allows you to turn on the subtitles.


Video and Audio Quality:

We're going to cover both the DVD and Blu-ray versions in one section, since the combo set includes both versions. When I first got this set, I started with the DVD side just to get a feel for what that was like, and as expected, the video and audio quality was excellent, without any real flaws. Naturally, I turned the discs upside down to experience the Blu-ray side of the discs and reinserted them into the player... and it got even better. But really, both sides look excellent, with no flaws of note. Though the Blu-ray versions do look better (since they are in true high-definition), you really can't lose with either version. The audio on both versions seems about the same and is also without any real flaws, though the Blu-ray version contains the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, while the DVD has the not-really-so-inferior Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. All episodes contain English and Spanish subtitles.


Special Features:

The main thing that we have for special features are the deleted scenes. In fact, there are deleted scenes for almost every episode, and they are certainly worth watching, because they tell some stories that you'll miss otherwise. Runtimes for these special features are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The List" (6:02)
2. "The Incentive" (5:56)
3. "Lotto" (4:01)
4. "Garden Party" (4:47)
5. "Spooked" (1:41)
6. "Doomsday" (7:54)

Disc 2:
7. "Pam's Replacement" (none)
8. "Gettysburg" (5:08)
9. "Mrs. California" (2:18)
10. "Christmas Wishes" (5:58)
11. "Trivia" (3:31)
12. "Pool Party" (2:18)

Disc 3:
13. "Jury Duty" (5:15)
14. "Special Project" (4:38)
15. "Tallahassee" (6:17)
16. "After Hours" (6:05)
17. "Test the Store" (6:21)

Disc 4:
18. "Last Day in Florida" (0:59)
19. "Get the Girl" (6:57)
20. "Welcome Party" (4:05)
21. "Angry Andy" (none)

Disc 5:
22. "Fundraiser" (2:11)
23. "Turf War" (3:11)
24. "Free Family Portrait Studio" (7:32)

Disc 5 contains the remaining special features for the set. These begin with the blooper reel (19:11), where we get to see a large number of bloopers from the eighth season of the series.

Next, we have the webisodes for the season, entitled The Girls Next Door. There were only two of these webisodes, "The Story of Subtle Sexuality" (3:25) and "Girl Next Door" (3:15). The first one is a mockumentary (inside of a mockumentary series...) of a fictitious girl band duo which includes Kelly and Erin, while the second one is a musical video from their "band."

Finally, there is a series of XVLI "football" championship promos (3:51) featuring the characters of the series, which aired during some sort of "mysterious" football championship game which they probably couldn't legally say the name of for the set... but if you just watch these six promos, they'll say the name of it within the commercials.

Unlike the previous releases, it appears that they did not include any exclusive-to-Blu-ray features this time, which is a shame. But they did include an access code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the entire season, downloadable from www.UniversalDigitalCopy.com/theOfficeSeason8. They give you until April 30, 2017 to redeem your code. Unfortunately, we were unable to test this out before the review, because the access will not be available until the set is officially released.

My biggest concern about the special features is the complete lack of any sort of commentaries or interviews... really? They couldn't get together anything?


Final Comments:

Oh... boy. What happened with this season? This set is a fine set and I don't have complaints about that. But these episodes... seriously? The series really wasn't bad at the end of the seventh season for the few episodes after Carrell left the series. In fact, I loved the "Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager" that aired at the end of the seventh season, and I think it was one of the best of the series. But this season really does stink, and I think that is putting it bluntly. While there were some great moments in this season, none of the episodes really stuck out as being particularly great, and like many fans, I absolutely couldn't stand the characters of Robert California and Nellie Bertram. Adding new characters is fine, provided that they aren't just so incredibly obnoxious that it kills the series. And in a sense, they have killed the series. The upcoming ninth season has already been announced to be the last of the series, but I'm actually hopeful that we may see some improvement in the series... though that may be difficult too since they'll also be losing Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak as regulars. Personally, I think that it would have been wise to have made Kathy Bates' character a regular on the series, but it seems that she was determined to stay on her sinking ship Harry's Law.

With the talk of the quality of the episodes aside, this set is a pretty decent set with great quality episodes (on both the DVD and Blu-ray), but the special features have become pretty routine by now and almost disappointing, really. There isn't one commentary or interview on this set, and we just have deleted scenes, bloopers, webisodes, and promos. It could be more impressive on the special features front. And the whole double-sided discs were simply a terrible idea for this set. Many studios, including Universal, have done plenty of these combo pack releases and completely avoided the double-sided disc issue. For example, it isn't that difficult to put the DVD and Blu-ray on the same side of each, so why didn't they just do that?

In the end, all I can say about this set is that if you own the previous releases, you'll have to own this for your collection... but if you don't, this is the worst place imaginable to begin your collection. The show started off pretty slow and really picked up somewhere in the second season, and it seems like it just jumped off a cliff right at the first episode of this season. So, I'm hoping for better for the final season, but for now, this set (either the DVD or the combo release) is worth owning only if you want your collection to be complete.


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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Final Score: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/02/12

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http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=303602


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