It’s almost September, which means that network television is returning to us once again. The fifth season of The Office premieres on September 25th, which means that Season Four is coming to DVD… on September 2nd, to be precise.
The Office: Season Four starts off where Season Three left off – surprise, surprise – with Pam and Jim bringing their relationship into the public atmosphere of Dundler Mifflin. Engagement is hinted at, but will Jim actually propose? Meanwhile, Dwight is continuing his quest to become head of the office (or at least second-in-charge, now that Jim officially holds that title), while still annoyed by the progressing relationship of Andy and his ex, Angela. And Michael is finding his relationship with Jan strained to the brink. Also, young “Wunderkind” Ryan, who was promoted above Michael last season, is trying to take Dundler Mifflin into the 21st century, further creating tension between him and his former colleagues.
Season Four is a bit weaker than the last two seasons, as NBC introduced several hour-long episodes that didn’t always hit the mark. At half hour increments, the writers are able to shove just the right amount of jokes into each episode; at an hour, while still funny, a few gags seem to overrun their welcome. More importantly, many of the episodes see Michael (Steve Carell) going above and beyond to do stupid, idiotic things; he crosses the line in a few points that stretch the believability factor, even beyond what he normally does. In Season Five, the writers will need to be careful to be funny without making Michael a complete and utter idiotic. I like him better as a dumb, vein and harmless guy, not an absurdly stupid moron.
Nevertheless, The Office: Season Four is still pretty funny and, for the most part, maintains the quality of past seasons. There are some notable highlights of the season, including “Dinner Party” and “Night Out.” It’s been a while since I’ve watched all the episodes, so I can’t remember other highlights.
As far as special features go, the box set is full of deleted scenes. Some are better than others, of course, but you get a nice little extended package with each episode. Beyond that, NBC has included a few random things, including a commercial called “Rabies: The More You Know” and a blooper reel. There are a few other minor featurettes, as well as audio commentaries for each episode. Aside from the deleted scenes, there’s nothing particularly amazing here, but like with most TV box sets, you’ll probably be buying it for the episodes – not the bonus features.
If you’re a fan of The Office, Season Four is a must-buy. Many episodes get funnier the more you watch them, and with only 16 episodes in the season, you can watch the whole thing in a single weekend.