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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Office: Season One (2005)

"I bet you would. Just try not to be too gay on the court."
- Michael Scott (Steve Carell)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 24, 2005

Stars: Steve Carell
Other Stars: Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, B.J. Novak, Rainn Wilson
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 02h:15m:12s
Release Date: August 16, 2005
UPC: 086162118456
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ AB+B- B

DVD Review

It took me until it ended to start watching the British comedy series, The Office. After one episode, I was angry with myself for waiting so long, because it ranks right up there with the best of modern TV comedy, emulating the wit and originality of Arrested Development, Reno 911!, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The mastermind behind the show, comedian Ricky Gervais, made a name for himself internationally, leaving fans waiting with bated breath to see what he will come up with next.

When I heard that there was going to be a US version of the series, I was skeptical but not at all surprised, given the lack of originality these days when it comes to domestic television and the movies. Knowing that the talented Steve Carell (Bruce Almighty, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) was cast in Gervais' role as the boss raised my hopes slightly, but I still couldn't fathom this new version even coming close to the outrageously funny and realistic British import.

Well, Carell and company (including an integral part of The Simpsons, Greg Daniels) actually pulled it off , making their version of The Office a series that can stand on its own, avoiding unnecessary comparison and scrutiny. Carell takes a similar, yet not identical character to Gervais' and completely makes him his own, bringing his unique sense of humor and physical comedy to one of the best new characters on TV.

Carell plays Michael Scott, the regional manager of a Pennsylvania paper supply company, who is sure to remind many office workers of their own boss. Michael is as egocentric and clueless about his employees' feelings about him as anyone could possibly be. He also thinks he's God's gift to comedy, making joke after uncomfortable joke.

Michael's employees include the most normal person in the office, Jim (John Krasinski), who does his job and is a good salesman, but is absolutely miserable working with his pathetic colleagues. Although neither of them will admit it (and she has a fiancée), Jim and the office secretary, Pam (Jenna Fischer) have a romantic connection, constantly flirting with each other without even realizing it. Jim, along with the rest of the world, is in a constant battle with the geek of the establishment, Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Michael's right-hand-man, albeit in Dwight's eyes only.

This cast is top-notch; the producers made the perfect decision to cast relative unknowns in every role save for Carell, and even he is not a superstar, at least not yet. It's pointless to compare these actors or characters to those of the British version bcause they can't really be topped, but to have Carell and company come close to emulating that group's genius and make these characters their own is a heck of an accomplishment.

Just like the British show, there were only six episodes of the US series in its first season, and its pilot episode uses a virtually identical story. The other five shows are almost entirely original, and feature a pair of the funniest episodes of any series to air last season. The first of these is Diversity Day, in which Michael takes sensitivity training to a level that no one's ever seen. The idea to have the workers put "race cards" on their foreheads and then have them act stereotypically is just so wrong that it's absolutely hilarious.

The best show in the first season, though, is Basketball. It's funny enough to see Michael form his team from his employees (shunning the best player in the process), but when they actually take on the warehouse guys, the results are amazing. Seeing Michael take his unwarranted ego and arrogance to the basketball court gets funnier every time I see it. I just hope there's more of the same when the second season of this great new show premieres this fall on NBC.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: These episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and they look about as close as they can to their original, high-definition broadcasts. While the show has a shot-on-video feel, the production values seem very high, thanks to crisp images that are always very sharp. The show has a very bright look to it, and the excellent contrast on hand renders this nicely on these transfers. There is quite a bit of grain in each episode, but this was present when they aired on TV.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: These Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes do a great job accommodating the dialogue-heavy shows. The opening title music is worked-in nicely with the rest of the audio, but the main focus is the dialogue and it's always crystal clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Columbo: Season 3, Mc Millan & Wife: Season One, McCloud: Season 1 & 2, Emergency!: Season One, Adam-12: Season One, The Rockford Files: Season One, Murder, She Wrote: Season Two, Northern Exposure: The Complete Third Season
6 Deleted Scenes
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Pilot - Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, BJ Novak2. Pilot - John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak, executive producers Greg Daniels and Ken Kwapis3. Diversity Day - Steve Carell, John Krasinski,
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: It would be nice to see a few more extras on future DVDs for The Office, but for now, we get Episode Commentaries for five of the shows. These tracks feature numerous participants that vary between them, including Steve Carell, and other cast and crew. Quite a bit is touched upon in each track, including the shooting style, how the actors meshed with the writers, and their feelings about the British version of the show.

There is also almost an hour of deleted scenes for all six episodes. Some include truly funny bits, stuff that fans need to see for themselves.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Skeptics be damned, the American version of The Office is one of the funniest shows on network TV. The cast and writers took the genius concept of the British import and did a fine job crafting their own show that will hopefully be on the air for many years to come. This is a great first DVD for the series, with the video coming close to capturing the original HD look. While it might not look like there are many extras, the few that are here are the perfect companion to these episodes.

 


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