“She introduced me to so many things — pasteurized milk, sheet, monotheism.”
Lots going on with the Dunder-Mifflin crew this season: romances started and quashed, marriage proposals advanced and rescinded, new bosses, old bosses, rogue paper companies, ultra-competitive volleyball tournaments, fake tapeworms, non-English speaking German priests, watermelon afterbirth, surprising but not-surprising season-ending reveals, and…most importantly, the Nard-dog.
The season opens with sexual tension so thick you can cut it with an authentic Schrute Farms scythe. Cute and somewhat dorky HR rep Holly Flax (Amy Ryan, The Wire) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell, Evan Almighty) appear to be embarking on an iconic romance, the kind of relationship that bards sing about — until corporate steps in and @#$% it all up. This move will have long-lasting repercussions in the office, as Michael makes a bold career move, a no-nonsense replacement boss shows up and changes the atmosphere almost immediately (much to Jim’s chagrin), and…well, a whole lot of other funny stuff.
The Office is the funniest non-animated show on television (The Venture Bros. earns my top honors) and Season Five continues the excellence. The writers toss in a lot of big storylines, the type that will appeal to fans of the relationship melodrama. If you love the Pam and Jim googly-eyes, you’re in for a turbo-shot of it here. Been a fan of Michael’s hapless romantic misadventures? There’s some genuine sweetness (and heartache) in his encounter with Holly. And how about those Vances? As scorching an affair as ever seen on television!
Then you have the Andy/Angela/Dwight love triangle, an epic narrative which has spanned multiple seasons finds its culmination about halfway through Season Five. This is probably my favorite storyline of the season, because it features the two funniest characters on the show — Dwight and Andy.
The brilliance of the series is that the yardage between its “funniest characters” is so slight. In any given episode, anyone can step up and deliver the gut laughs, when called upon. Creed’s entry into the Crime Aid auction; Toby’s return from Costa Rica; Ryan’s bowling alley career; Kelly’s emotional response to the “Is Hillary Swank Hot?” contest; Angela’s desperate attempt to saver her cat from an office fire; Darryl’s baby-mama pep talk; Oscar’s horror at having Andy as his wingman. Heck, I was doubled over, when Hank the security guard was regaling the office workers with his blues song. Simply put, this is one of the best casts ever assembled for a comedy series and they’re so comfortable in their characters’ skins the execution and timing comes so easily.
The writing’s the tops, with the script crew coming up with interesting ways to challenge and reinvent their players. For example, the introduction of Charles Miner — awesomely played by Idris Elba — as a hardass resistant to Jim’s charms. I’m a fan of Jim Halpert, but watching him squirm during progressively more disastrous attempts to impress the new boss is a real treat.
A great season overall and the Blu-ray set is just as good. The episodes look fantastic in their 1.78:1 widescreen glory. The detail and resolution are as strong as they were during the show’s HD broadcast. The video fidelity is worlds better than standard-def and positively worth upgrading. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio may not have much of an opportunity to flex its aural muscle, seeing as the show is so dialogue-heavy, but it’s clean and powerful nonetheless.
Extras are a little light in the loafers: the deleted scenes are many and all worth watching; select episode commentaries are fun and insightful; and the gag reel is quite funny. The “100 Episodes, 100 Moments” is a gimmicky series retrospective; and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences cast and crew interview isn’t bad, but looks and sounds awful. Promos, webisodes, and a pointless BD-Live “one-liner soundboard” round out the bonus materials.
Not Guilty. That’s what she said!