The Office: Season Five

The Office: Season Five
In this, the sitcom's best season since its Lazarus-like revival in season two, when everyone had pretty much written it off as another poor Brit-com transplant, The Office continues to defy the rules of traditional sitcoms: allowing kept-apart couples to date and flourish (Jim and Pam), letting incompetent losers strut their stuff (boss Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, demonstrates why he still has a job by actually being a good salesman despite himself) and letting the show breathe and evolve without resetting to the same set-up each time. When Michael faces the end of his relationship with co-worker Holly (Amy Ryan, in a terrific guest turn that many would love her to continue), he's emboldened by his successes ― and threatened enough by other developments ― to leave Dunder Mifflin and start his own paper company, taking disgraced former temp/executive Ryan (writer BJ Novak) and receptionist Pam (Jenna Fisher) with him. Meanwhile, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) finds himself the "other man" in the love affair between Angela (Angela Kinsey) and Andy (Ed Helms). In this now-familiar environment, the development of Helms' Andy ― insecure, angry, lovelorn and confused ― is a comic highlight of the season. The Office continues to use guest stars more judiciously than other sitcoms (i.e., 30 Rock) but Idris Elba (aka Stringer Bell from The Wire) never really gels when he takes over Michael's job; his only comic highlight is his suspicion of golden boy Jim (John Krasinksi). On DVD, The Office continues to provide the greatest depth of any current sitcom because the improv-ish shooting style leaves more on the cutting room floor than most feature-length films, much of it involving peripheral, but hugely entertaining, Office support cast. Whether it's HR rep Toby's constant contact with staff while away in Costa Rica or the ongoing politics of the lunch room, the stationary supplies or personal hygiene issues, each episode has as much as 20 minutes of extra footage that plays like an entire lost episode. Those deleted scenes are the best of the extras, which include some commentaries, gag reels and summer-run webisodes, but the greatest joy is re-watching favourite moments to catch what you missed when you were snorting beverage through your nose the first time. (Universal)