Sat, 30 August 2008
by Kevin Crossman
Coming to stores on September 2nd is the DVD release of Season 4 of The Office. The four-disc set contains all 14 episodes and a host of extras. The entire set comprises over 400 minutes of content.
Each episode is presented in pristine widescreen format and looks sharp on DVD. Season 4 saw many of the office relationships take on new roles and challenges and once again a season collection like this is a great way to revisit the story arcs and go back to earlier episodes for hints of what is to come later. In particular, the character of Ryan (B.J. Novak) is a completely new role and by season's end is in a very, very different place than when the season starts. His "transformation" is fun to watch over the course of a season.
The packaging of episodes is pretty much what you'd expect. The episodes are shown in entirety, with Deleted Scenes for each episode easy to get to after playing the episode. Unfortunately, the Deleted Scenes are presented as one large clip, unlike the Deleted Scenes on The Office website where you can pick and choose which scene to watch. But it is hard to complain about the amount of deleted scenes, which run from over five minutes for the regular 21 minute episodes to over twelve minutes for some of the "hour long" episodes like "Fun Run" and "Dunder Mifflin Infinity."
One of the interesting and unusual episodes this season was "Did I Stutter?" In addition to taking the episode name from a line of dialogue, the episode was unusual in that it featured the character of Stanley (Leslie David Baker) in a major role. Thankfully, Baker's performance is one of the strongest from any actor in any episode in the entire set. "Did I Stutter?" also features a interesting and informative commentary from Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Leslie David Baker, Kate Flannery, Justin Spitzer, Brent Forrester, Gene Stupnitsky, and Randall Einhorn.
Fans of Jim and Pam are not left out in Season 4, as our favorite TV couple actually get to be a couple. This puts the characters in new situations, such as their overnight stay at Schrute Farm in "Money" and their cringe-worthy visit to Michael and Jan's condo in "Dinner Party." The engagement storyline is another season-long story arc, though as fans of the show know it did not quite conclude in the season finale, "Goodbye Toby."
Speaking of the season finale, "Goobye Toby" features one of the best performances in the entire series by Steve Carell. Carell masterfully communicates his joy at saying goodbye to his HR nemesis, and the excitement of meeting a new "love of his life" in the character of Holly (Amy Ryan).
The Bonus Materials
A complete list of bonus features is shown below. "Unique to the DVD" items include the hilarious 22-minute blooper reel that every fan of The Office should watch again and again. The complete Michael Scott Dunder Mifflin Ad is the kind of extra that makes sense for the DVD and is a welcome addition. Similarly, the Summer Vacation Promo features some unique content and is a good piece to play prior to watching the season opener, "Fun Run." Unfortunately, the Summer Vacation Promo is available on Disc 4, rather than on Disc 1 where it would have fit chronologically.
Last season, I complained about episode commentaries with too many participants. This year, the number of participants has not been reduced, but the overall effectiveness has improved as there is less "talking over" and everyone trying to get a word in edgewise (this is also attributed to a couple "quiet" writers on some of the commentaries). Only Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer participate of the "Big Four" but their presence is most welcome on three of the four commentaries, even if we do miss Steve Carell and John Krasinski. B.J. Novak, Leslie David Baker, and Paul Liberstein all provide insights to their characters and the process of creating the show. The commentaries are very entertaining, though some fans may wish for a more-mellow Melora Hardin in next-year's collection.
Available in some packages and probably the best overall extra is the table draft script of "Dinner Party." For those who are unfamiliar with script formats, this is a great way to see what the writers produce prior to filming an episode (in a year that featured the writers' strike, this is even more appropriate). It's lots of fun to read the script and watch the episode at the same time. For example, the video camera in the bedroom and the scene with Angela and Andy eating ice cream were not in the original script. The script also features of scene where Michael prank-calls Toby, sitting alone at home watching Las Vegas by himself.
Finally, The Office Convention Writers' Block is another good "behind the scenes" piece that provides real insight to the show (unlike the recent writer panel at Comic-Con). The camera work is a little shaky, but at least we get to see the writers answer their questions in a way that does make this piece a little more engaging compared to a pure audio version featured on podcasts like That's What She Said. (If you missed our coverage of the OTHER panels at last year's Office convention, follow the links tn the sidebar to your right -Matt).
The "office" theme is presented well in the packaging. The photos and post-it notes once again make references to events of the season. In addition, the inside fold of the DVD pakage features Dwight's org chart from "Did I Stutter?"
The DVD menus are animated and well-done. There are visuals and audio that are pertinent to the episodes on each disc, and they provide a wonderfully immersive experience.
Due to the writer's strike, the season was shortened to only 14 episodes spanning 19 half-hour segments. Unfortunately, the reduction in number of episodes did not translate into a lower retail price for the collection, compared to previous seasons. As with Season 3, the extras are reduced again this year. Worse, many of the extras are already available on the NBC.com website. Still, it's nice to have all the content in one place.
If you're a hardcore fan of The Office, there's no question this is a must-own item. Casual fans will be well-served by this set as well, since the immersive experience can help you understand and appreciate the show's humor and sensibility. However, the middling bonus features and lesser overall value do present flaws to be aware of.
Bloopers, photos, and more at the official The Office DVD site.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT
Thu, 28 August 2008
And so does the latest issue of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY:
"Contrary to popular belief, Oscar recognition is not necessarily a ticket to stardom. And so, despite having scored a nomination at last year’s Academy Awards for her part in “Gone Baby Gone,” Amy Ryan insists she is still “pretty anonymous.”
That status may change, however, when the new season of “The Office” premieres on NBC on Sept. 25. In the finale in May, Ryan joined the show as Holly, a human resources executive who catches the eye of awkward boss Michael, played by Steve Carell. Fortunately for the actress, it was more than just a flirtatious tease: She is set to appear in a six-episode arc, in which her greatest challenge might just be maintaining her composure among her castmates.
“You are guaranteed at least three hysterical fits of laughter between takes,” Ryan says. “It makes it easier to keep a straight face while filming, although it’s still extremely hard. You’re drumming up every dead puppy story you can imagine.”'
For the rest of the article, click HERE.
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm EDT
Tue, 26 August 2008
by Kevin Crossman
For the Comedy and Drama Emmy Awards, nominated series submit six episodes to be judged. The six episodes are divided into three pairs that are randomly distributed to voters who view two episodes from each nominated series. The Office is competing against 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Entourage.
Here are the Season 4 episodes submitted for The Office:
"Did I Stutter?"
"Goodbye, Toby (Parts 1 & 2)"
These episodes are the most emotionally charged of the entire season, especially for longtime viewers with an investment in the couples' relationships. "Chair Model" not only features the uncomfortable humor the show is famous for, but also features the start of the "engagement storyline" that went through to the season finale, "Goobye Toby." Of course, "Dinner Party" is another emotional and chance-taking episode that may reasonate with literate Emmy voters who see references to films like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." "Did I Stuffer" features tension-filled moments on par with any episode of "Law and Order."
So, will Season 4 be judged by these moments that transcent mere "comedy" but cross over to real emotional connection to the show's characters? Or, will Emmy voters be turned off by the sight of Dwight's Second Life avatar? We'll find out on September 21st, when ABC broadcasts the Emmy Awards.
Learn more at The Envelope.
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22pm EDT
Mon, 25 August 2008
FROM: Dunder Mifflin
TO: All Dunder Mifflin Infinity Employees
SUBJECT: DUNDER MIFFLIN INFINITY 2.0 - IT'S A WHOLE NEW GAME.
We have brand-new year of DMI starting Sept. 4th with new scores, new tasks, new desks and improved features!
New to DMI?
Left halfway through the year?
Didn't get into your desired branch?
Always wanted to be a Regional Manager?
Come back and start from scratch! All the SchruteBucks and stats from last year will be wiped and everyone starts over as of Sept. 4th, so it's a whole new game!
Afraid of losing your profile and hard-earned desk items? Don't be! Your profile will remain intact as will as the desk items you purchased up until now.
Branches will be open for business Thursday, Sept. 4th and will accept applications from ALL members, current and new. Everyone is guaranteed to get into the first branch they apply to. The new Regional Manager hiring period will also begin the same day.
DON'T FORGET: The SchruteBucks you've earned in DMI 1.0 will be revert to zero at 11:59 PM ET/8:59 PM PT, Thursday, August 28th. The DMI site will be shut down for maintenance Aug. 29-Sept. 4, but you still will be able access the DMI Forums. There are a few days remaining to spend your remaining bucks so don't miss out!
Click here for a final hurrah and to say goodbye to DMI 1.0.
The Dunder Mifflin Infinity Team
Category:DM Infinity -- posted at: 11:57pm EDT
Sun, 24 August 2008
The season four DVD is getting ready to hit stores on September 2nd, and as usual, Best Buy is offering a special gift pack. This season, the "swag" includes a "Fun Run" T-Shirt, wristband, and water bottle, which certainly seems like a good deal for the $33.74 asking price. Supply will surely be limited, however, so get your orders in as soon as possible.
Target and other big box stores usually offer their own specials, but so far I haven't seen or heard anything-- but check the Labor Day circulars this weekend for more information.
I certainly don't blame anyone for choosing to buy one of these sets instead of ordering through the Amazon link. If you HAVE ordered through Amazon, feel free to cancel your order if you so wish.
See the BEST BUY OFFER HERE.
EDIT: The Target set will apparently come with "60 minutes of bonus cast footage and a notepad." No idea what that footage will be. ($36.99)
EDIT 2: Circuit City will be offering a "Free The Office Stapler in Gelatin Mold Keychain with purchase." ($32.99)
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28pm EDT
Fri, 22 August 2008
IGN.com has posted a small interview with Melora Hardin today. Nothing much in the way of actual season information (you know the drill by now), but it's worth a quick read.
The article ALSO links to several promo photos that NBC has released for the season five premier.
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT
Fri, 22 August 2008
Good old Kristin over at E! did a set visit, and posted a few clips. Neither Kevin or I were too amused with Rainn's "hold Jenna hostage until THE ROCKER does well" plot, and according to John Krasinski the whole thing has gone horribly, horribly wrong:
There's another video with Rainn, and a bit more information, if you follow the LINK.
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT
Fri, 22 August 2008
Michael explains his love for women's volleyball:
Dwight gets creative with some #2 pencils:
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44pm EDT
Thu, 21 August 2008
According to TMZ, Craig Robinson entered a "tentative guilty" plea to possession of ecstasy (a felony)... this ignores the meth that was found in his possession as well as the cocaine and amphetamines found in his system at the time of his arrest.
The plea agreement requires Robinson to attend a "drug treatment" program for 18 months. If he successfully completes the program, he will have the charge expunged from his record.
Now, I have nothing against Robinson (despite my dislike for Darryl, in general), and I am glad that he's getting the help he needs. But I can't help but wonder about the ridiculous double standard that exists in the Hollywood justice system. If you, or I, or an actual warehouse worker in Scranton, PA was found with ecstasy or meth, you can bet damn well that we wouldn't get off with 18 months of treatment. I hope he realizes and appreciates the breaks he has been given.
Category:general -- posted at: 1:57am EDT
Wed, 20 August 2008
Listener Kevin Murphy tipped me off to this interview that Rainn Wilson did with The Onion AV Club to pimp "The Rocker." He ends up spending MUCH more time talking about The Office, though.
AV CLUB: Was it difficult to not be influenced by the actor who played the equivalent to your role?
Rainn Wilson: I get asked that question a lot, no offense, but the situation was—the guy playing Gareth is very distinct. He looks like a whippet, he's 97 pounds and has very intense eyes and demeanor, and I knew I'd never be able to copy him. We have totally different energies and are very different as actors. He's just absolutely brilliant for what he did. I knew for the American show, what we were going for was Seinfeld-like success. People who compare the English and American Offices—there's so much ignorance in that comparison, because the English Office made 13 episodes. We make that many episodes in three months. We've made 89 episodes at this point. Their show is more like a miniseries, and our show is like an American TV show, because the demands of the market are so different.
It's like comparing a book and a movie. Gone With The Wind the movie and Gone With The Wind the book, it's difficult to compare them, because they're different forms. So I knew that ours needed to sustain, but I also knew that the Dwight needed to play a similar role, and I knew that [Steve Carell's] Michael Scott needed an acolyte and a foil, and I knew that Jim [Halpert, John Krasinski's character] needed someone to butt heads against. I knew that the office needed someone who was a real stickler for rules, and at the same time was a nerd and had weird, oddly obsessive-compulsive ideas about the military and gaming and fantasy worlds, but also needed to be a real in to the hierarchies of office life. I also didn't want him to be—one thing I really appreciated about the character of Gareth was that he wasn't a loser. The guy had a lot of friends, he could go to bars, he could get girls. He wasn't like the office nerd that we've seen so many times before, so I knew that—this is a very long-winded answer—I knew there were certain needs that needed to be fulfilled. I wanted to find my own way of doing that. I wanted to find my own bad haircut, my own way of kissing the boss' ass, my own way of butting heads with Jim, and so I tried to forget Gareth as much as I could.
Check out the full article HERE.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT