Oh The Office how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Well actually don’t let me as I’ll be here all day writing down the hilarious lines from this third season and past seasons. The Office is without a doubt one of my favorite shows on TV and easily my favorite comedy show of all time (well, ok, maybe Arrested Development ranks a bit higher, but only a bit). The third season of this critically acclaimed show took all the characters to new levels and introduced a few new ones that appear to be sticking around till next season (one of them, anyway).
The Office, adapted from the wildly popular BBC series of the same name, continues its third season with the Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) / Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer) love arc (now with a bit of extra spice with a new Office arrival, Karen Filipelli [Rashida Jones]), expansion on Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his relationship with Jan (Melora Hardin), further Dwight and Angela sneaking relationship antics and general office shenanigans that one can come to expect from this show. Admittedly the show does have a bit of an acquired taste; the humor in the show is sometimes grotesque in nature and in uncomfortable ways (several scenes with Michael in them are just cringe worthy to watch as he tries to talk his way through them), but once you adapt to the way this show is written and filmed you quickly become acquainted with the humor.
This season of The Office picks up right where the last one left off, with Jim having moved to a different branch of Dunder-Mifflin and acquainting himself with new peers, many of whom we never see much of, aside from the aforementioned Karen Fillipelli and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) who eventually become integrated members of the Dunder-Mifflin we know and love. Though the season started out rocky with the cut-aways to what Jim was doing at the new Dunder-Mifflin branch and the odd writing style of some of the early episodes (“The Coup” in particular remains one of the odd-episodes out in just how dark some of the humor gets in the show, although the discussion on the man named Crentist who became a dentist remains one of the highlights of the season), but once we hit the branch closing and Jim returns to the original office, everything quickly falls back into place. Sure, there are changes in the office to adapt too still, but at least we’re all in one place now; as B.J. Novak even notes on one of the commentaries on the DVD set, it became hard for the writers to write up things for the second Dunder-Mifflin office as the characters weren’t what they were used to writing.
There were just so many good moments in this season that I hesitate to just mention one or two as I’ll no doubt start babbling on for five pages, but the interaction between Jim and Dwight in “Traveling Salesman/The Return” is simply priceless. The slap to Dwight’s face as he rattles off facts about being assaulted was so brilliantly timed that just thinking about it now has me laughing. The Michael/Andy car ride in the same episode is also great to watch; I don’t recall the two ever having scenes together on “The Daily Show”, but the two are brilliant in scenes together (here’s hoping Stephen Colbert pops up somewhere in the next season, even if it’s just a bit part). In addition the “Product Recall” episode with Jim and Andy at the school is hilarious to watch and the deleted scenes on this DVD release only further to show us all that went on at that school with Jim and Andy. Priceless stuff.
While I wish we could have seen more of the other office members before they were written off (we do get a bit more in the deleted scenes, but very little), there’s no doubt in my mind that this season of The Office is every bit as good as the superb second season. As long as this show can retain its writers and the acting and stories can remain this high of a caliber (as high caliber as Michael buying lingerie for the women of the office in “Women’s Appreciation” can be, anyway) The Office should have a long and successful career on NBC.
Not just this season, but the entire show, The Office comes Highly Recommended.
Arriving in packaging identical to the previous seasons release, The Office is a delight to unwrap. After slipping off the cardboard slip we see the third season cast photo (complete with Roy (David Denman) in the far right corner…poor Roy)and the set folds out to reveal a “corkboard” background with post it notes and images from the season all over it. This further folds out into two dual layer digi-pak trays with the flaps on either side listing the episodes on each discs along with their descriptions. On the reverse side is a listing of the bonus features (“That work overtime!”), which, let me tell you right now, is plentiful.
While there is a lengthy blooper reel on this seasons set, I’m sad to say that it isn’t as long as the second season reel, which, if I recall correctly, is the length of an episode, while this seasons is only fifteen minutes. Still, your mouth hurts after watching this blooper reel, as there are truly hilarious screw ups on this reel, notably from Rainn Wilson (as Dwight) and Steve Carell, who cannot seem to manage to complete a scene from “Women’s Appreciation” without cracking up. I love me a good blooper reel and this one is certainly one of the better ones, even if the runtime is shorter than that of the last seasons.
“Excerpts from the 2006 NBC Primetime Preview hosted by the Cast of The Office>” isn’t exactly what it sounds like; what we get in this extra is actually just either deleted scenes from shows or something altogether different. Either way it feels like a short and condensed stand alone episode that is hilarious to watch. The “Toby Wraparounds” give us a deeper look into the hate Toby endures at the office and just how bitter he is toward Michael and his job. It gives us a slightly more cynical Toby than we get in the show and some of the stuff seems out of character, but that may just be because we see so little of him in the show (though what we do see is brilliant). “Kevin Cooks Stuff in the Office” is Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) telling us how to make good food in the office with what’s laying around. “Dwight Schrute Music Video” is a curious extra and I’m not entirely sure where it came from or what it’s purpose is, but it takes a lot of clips from the show featuring Dwight and puts them together in into, you guessed it, a music video—funny, but odd. The full video of “Lazy Scranton” makes its DVD debut from the episode “The Convict” and is just as funny as it was in the show.
A Joss Whedon interview about his episode (“Business School” or “the bat” episode) is included on this set as well, although it’s a very short interview. Whedon doesn’t toss up too much information about the episode, but it’s likely this interview was included as he was unable to record the commentary for the episode. The final non-deleted scene and commentary extras on the set are the videos from the “Make Your Own Promo” contest (I didn’t find any of them particularly hilarious, but fun to watch once I suppose) and the excerpt from the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards where Conan O’ Brien falls into the Office through the roof. This bit was hilarious at the Emmy’s and it’s nice to have it on DVD as I could never heard Michael Scott’s line to Conan in the beginning due to audience laughter and clapping (of which this footage is obviously free of).
The big highlight of this release is the deleted scenes of which there are three hours of. Watching these is like watching all-new episodes, as very few of the deleted scenes are alternate takes. There are some hilarious deleted scenes, one in particular from the “Ben Franklin” episode that I won’t mention here due to the vulgar nature, in this batch and I they are the only deleted scenes on DVD sets that I’m actually excited to watch (all too often deleted scenes are deleted for a reason—in The Office’s case, they just don’t have time for all of the funny in each episode). The only qualm I have with some of the deleted scenes is the dialogue is hard to hear at times, but thankfully all of the deleted scenes have subtitles so what you’re not able to make out is right there at the bottom for you.
And finally we have the commentaries. There are eight in all on this release and participants include “The Coup” with John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Rashida Jones and Angela Kinsey; “Initiation” with BJ Novak, Rainn Wilson and Leslie David Baker; “Traveling Salesman/The Return” with John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Rashida Jones, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker and Editor Dave Rogers; “Business School” Commentary with BJ Novak, Rainn Wilson and Writer Brent Forrester; “Safety Training” with BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling and Director Harold Ramis; “Women’s Appreciation” with Jenna Fisher, Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery and Writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitisky; “Beach Game” with Ed Helms, Brian Baumgartner, Writer Jennifer Celotta and Director Harold Ramis; “The Job” with John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rashida Jones, Melora Hardin, Editor David Rogers and Director Ken Kwapis. All of the commentaries are great to listen to but “The Coup”, “Traveling Salesman/The Return” and “The Job” in particular is a blast to listen to. Cast and crew alike are filled with neat tidbits on the show, although Krasinski and Jones are quite a lot of the time. It’s a shame Carell couldn’t chime in on a few of these, but with all of the movies that mans in, it’s not hard to see why he was unavailable.
Audio and video on this season is superb, although as I got into watching some of the past television season in HD, the DVDs often don’t look as sharp. Office still looks brilliant, but the DVD does have a tiny bit more softness. Still, even having said that, this show isn’t one about looking obnoxiously great, although there aren’t any real disappointing scenes to be had and the in-car sequences with the new camera angle, which looked kind of shoddy in HD, look much better in standard definition. The audio on the release is great and aside from some quiet dialogue on the deleted scenes, sounds great. The surround aspect of the 5.1 track is used sparingly, but when it is we often hear office chatter or phones ringing in the background—nice touch.
Although there is no season three recap featurette, the extras on this season of The Office are more than pleasing, especially with the deleted scenes, commentaries and bloopers. There is too much good in this show to not own on DVD, as it’s easily one you’ll watch repeatedly throughout your life. Like the show itself, this DVD release comes Highly Recommended.
The Office: Season Three arrives on DVD on September 4th.