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I said it before; I’ll say it again… Michael Scott is a real horse’s patoot. One of the joys of watching THE OFFICE is watching Steve Carell bring to life character Michael Scott, who is the biggest horse’s patoot on television. Anyone who spends forty hours a week in a cubicle, doing a job they hate, knows somebody like Michael Scott, which has a lot to do with why THE OFFICE remains a popular sitcom and why it is heading into its sixth season on NBC.

Based of the British television of the same name, the basic premise of THE OFFICE follows the misadventures of the employees of the Scranton, Pennsylvania regional office of the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company, where documentary cameras capture the inner workings (or lack thereof) for posterity. Steve Carell portrays regional manager Michael Scott, who likes all the privileges of being the boss, without any of the responsibilities. Rainn Wilson is Dwight Schrute, the top sales rep at Dunder-Mifflin, who fancies himself Michael's his right-hand man. John Krasinski is Assistant Regional Manager Jim Halpert, who has finally gotten engaged to his co-worker Pam after a protracted and very bumpy courtship. Jenna Fischer is office receptionist Pam Beesly, whose relationship with Jim was a long time in coming. B.J. Novak is Ryan Howard, who has risen from office temp to Vice President and crashed back down to office temp. Ed Helms is Regional Director in Charge of Sales Andy Bernard, who finds he has a lot more in common with Dwight… more than just being in sales. The cast of THE OFFICE also features Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Creed Bratton, Oscar Nuñez, Paul Lieberstein, Craig Robinson, Melora Hardin, David Denman, Rashida Jones, Andy Buckley and Robert R. Shafer.

THE OFFICE: SEASON FIVE ($50) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features all twenty-six episodes that were aired in the series fifth year. The twenty-six featured episodes are as follows: Weight Loss, Business Ethics, Baby Shower, Crime Aid, Employee Transfer, Customer Survey, Business Trip, Frame Toby, The Surplus, Moroccan Christmas, The Duel, Prince Family Paper, Stress Relief, Lecture Circuit Part 1, Lecture Circuit Part 2, Blood Drive, Golden Ticket, New Boss, Two Weeks, Dream Team, The Michael Scott Paper Company, Heavy Competition, Broke, Casual Friday, Cafe Disco and Company Picnic. Highlights of season five include a love triangle that smolders then explodes, and Michael forming his own paper company after quitting Dunder-Mifflin and taking a couple of employees with him.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made all twenty-six episodes that comprise THE OFFICE: SEASON FIVE available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that has been encoded onto the discs with the AVC codec. As expected, the 1080p presentations on Blu-ray offer visual improvements over the show’s high definition broadcasts, which can be plagued by compression problems and artifacting. The overall appearance of THE OFFICE on Blu-ray is far smoother than what my cable company delivers- plus there are no pesky commercials to stop the flow of laughs. Of course, the faux documentary style of THE OFFICE does introduce some visual quirks, which are better resolved on Blu-ray, thanks to the superior data throughput of the disc-based format. The image is sharp and offers very good definition; sure, THE OFFICE may not offer the best level of fine detail amongst television productions, but this has more to do with how the show is shot and lit than anything else. Close ups provide the most detailed looking images, while longer shots come across as a little less resolved. Colors have a full-bodied, but lifelike quality, that comes from shooting documentary style with hi-def cameras. Flesh tones sometimes look a tad overdone. Blacks are deep and the whites crisp. Contrast can run a little hot, but for the most part it is just fine. There are no flaws in the source materials and grain/noise is minimal.

All of the episodes that make up THE OFFICE: SEASON FIVE are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The faux documentary style of THE OFFICE does translate to the sound design of the episodes as well. In a nutshell, the sound is very natural, but limited in scope. Dialogue and environmental noises make up the majority of sonic elements, so dialogue is localized front and center, while noises are presented with an understated directionality that one may not notice. Of course, there is also an ambient quality to the sound that grounds it in a faux documentary reality. The lossless encode isn’t really challenged by the material. Dialogue has warmth and is always completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the discs, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, which are spread throughout the set. Running Audio Commentaries are featured on ten episodes: Weight Loss, Business Ethics, Employee Transfer, Customer Survey, Moroccan Christmas, The Duel, Dream Team, The Michael Scott Paper Company, Casual Friday and Company Picnic. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: The Office (thirty minutes) and 100 Episodes, 100 Moments (nine minutes). The Office Promos, Webisodes, Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel and a One-Liner Soundboard close out the supplements.

THE OFFICE is a painfully funny show that holds significant appeal to anyone that spends forty hours a week at a job they hate. Universal’s Blu-ray release is pretty sweet; with a picture that easily bests the overly compressed cable company hi-def broadcasts that the majority of us suffer through. Recommended to office workers everywhere.



The Office: Season Five [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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