Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Review: "The Office" Season Two on DVD

Yes, my love for The Office has truly become an obsession. But it still feels like a healthy outlet. My husband has been gone for two whole weeks, and I am looking forward to having him back home and having my real life get back to normal. And I will report that while he's been gone I have been spending time with my friends as well as my daughter. So while my obsession is veering dangerously close to a junior high crush on the whole show right now, I expect to pull myself back from the brink after the season premiere on Thursday.

The last time I was so captivated by a cliffhanger was back in May of 1983 when I was waiting for Return of the Jedi came out. Though I doubt that George Lucas really thought about it that much, making newly adolescent girls wait three years to get Han Solo unfrozen was truly mean. I seriously used to worry that I was going to die before Jedi came out and never find out what happened. (Okay, that was a very embarrassing revelation so if anyone else experienced anything remotely like it please post a comment!)

Back to my Office review, which is also posted on Amazon. If you think it's a worthy review it would be great if you could vote for it. I am working to make my reviews as helpful as possible. (You can access all of my Amazon.com reviews by clicking this link.)

Mojo Mom's review of The Office Season Two
5 stars: Hilarious, emotional, absurd, sweet -- and great on DVD

For new potential fans of The Office, the DVD set of the break-out second season is a must-see. Start recording the third season now (premieres Sept. 21) and save those episodes, but don't watch them until you've watched the complete second season.

For devotees like myself, the DVD set is a just reward for loyal viewing. The show came into its own this year. I had watched fitfully until the stretch of episodes starting with "The Injury," "The Secret," and "The Carpet" hooked me for good. I am now going back to watch the whole season again and the shows hold up very well upon repeated viewing.

Strengths of the season: Steve Carell gets the award for Most Improved Characterization. It took about a dozen episodes (starting with 6 in the first season) for the show to settle on a tone for Carell's incompetent boss. For a while I wasn't sure what to make of him, which kept me from getting attached to the show. But this season he evolved from a mean jerk to a clueless, lonely man who really just wants everybody to be his friend. While the Michael Scott character still has plenty of totally inappropriate behavior and tons of cringe-worthy moments, his core of pathos and vulnerability humanizes him. I am even rooting for him to find love with Carol or Jan. As we saw this season, the fumbling results will surely be funny.

Now that Carell provides a solid anchor for the cast, the rest of the supporting actors can truly come into their own. From Rainn Wilson's complete dedication to the serious idiocy of office suck-up Dwight Schrute, to the smaller roles of wild-card Creed and eternally suffering temp Ryan, the ensemble has truly gelled.

And of course the slow-motion unfolding of Jim & Pam's romance provided the heart of the show throughout the season. Just about anyone over the age of 30 has been either Jim, Pam, or Roy at sometime in their life, and the bittersweet agony of the whole journey provided the summer's biggest cliffhanger. In my online poll to find the "Top Mom Crushes," both John Krasinski and Steve Carell have been nominated.

Finally, the DVD extras are truly great. The deleted scenes for each episode range from about 4 to 11 minutes and they are really funny. The discipline of 22 minutes works in the show's favor keep the stories tight, but the extra scenes are a worthy bonus for true fans.

This is a fantastic show, and a great DVD set. Even if you didn't watch the British version of the show (which I could never quite get into) give the American version of "The Office" a chance. What separates "The Office" from any other current "sitcom" is that much of the humor comes from what is left unsaid, rather than having a barrage of lame one-liners hitting viewers over the head. "The Office" is absurd, laugh-out-loud comedy with a heart--and if you are part of a couple, it's appointment TV that Mars and Venus can both love.


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