Blu-Ray Review: The Office: Season 5
With season six looming, NBC is releasing The Office: Season 5 on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday. With the 26 episodes comes the typical bonus feature culprits – deleted scenes, episode commentaries and a gag reel – but in this case, that’s actually a good thing.
As has been the case with other seasons of The Office, the deleted scenes are the highlight of the collection; each episode is filmed with a goal of 38-or-so minutes, which is then whittled down to 24 minutes or less for television. This means that for each episode, 25-40% of the footage is left on the cutting room floor. Most of this footage is actually quite entertaining. Overall, there’s three hours worth of deleted scenes, many of them laugh-out-loud funny.
The gag reel is also good; it’s 16-minutes long and most of the bloopers are well worth seeing. The 100 Episodes, 100 Moments is also worth the few minutes it takes.
If featurettes are more your thing, there’s a pretty good one on disc four that has Andy Richter interviewing the cast and some of the crew of The Office in a very personal, matter-of-fact kind of way. It’s a great half-hour segment that allows you to see the actors out of character and hear how episodes are written, how they work off the British version of the show (Steve Carell hasn’t and won’t watch the British version until he films his last episode) and more.
I listened to the episode commentary for “Weight Loss,” the season 5 premiere. It was disappointing. There are way too many people doing the audio, and none of them are a part of the cast. With that many people, by the time they finish talking about one thing they’ve already missed two subsequent scenes. There are a few useful nuggets to be found, but nothing substantial. I’d expect that the commentaries improve later into the season as the folks run out of random things to say, but who knows. This commentary wasn’t good enough to encourage me to listen to the others.
Also included in both the DVD and Blu-Ray collection are a couple of webisodes and promos. Exclusive to Blu-Ray, there’s a one-liner soundboard that allows you to mix and match lines from the show, save them and put them on BD-Live. This has to be one of the dumbest features I’ve ever seen; it’s sad to think anyone has enough time to spare that they’d actually go about using this feature to any worthwhile extent. Additional Office content is available via BD-Live.
All in all, there are more than enough special features on this disc to make this collection worth it, though why studios continue to waste money on silly things like soundboards when the deleted scenes alone are worth a purchase is beyond me. Unfortunately, Season 5 was also the worst season of the show; while there’s plenty to laugh at, the writers seemed distracted. You can read more about that in my critique of Parks and Recreation.