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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Preview: The Office - Season 3

by Kevin Crossman, Senior Editor

Review

Coming to stores on September 4th is the DVD release of Season 3 of The Office. The four-disc set contains all 22 episodes and a host of extras.

The Episodes

Each episode is presented in pristine widescreen format and looks sharp on DVD. After an incredible Season Two that was one of the best seasons in television history, The Office's Season Three cannot help but be somewhat of a letdown. The early episodes with Jim in a separate branch office in Stamford in particular are not well-loved by fans. These early episodes also feature Pam as kind of an aimless soul. However, both storylines work well when placed in the context of the entire season and are well-worth a second look as part of the entire season package on DVD.

   

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. Another note is that the "Traveling Salesmen" and "The Return" episodes are presented together as they were when rerun as an hour episode. While this means additional scenes are included, each episode's individuality is reduced. This hurts "The Return's" cold open with Dwight (Rainn Wilson) on the job-hunt, for example.

Fans of the show have commented that this season belonged to the character Pam and actress Jenna Fischer. Fischer takes a character that appeared as a timid wallflower in Season One and has turned her into a sympathetic and dynamic character by the end of Season Three. John Krasinski's Jim character is subdued for most of the season, a turn-off to many fans. However, placed in context of his character's story-arc this acting style is understandable. New characters Andy and Karen (Ed Helms and Rashida Jones) are great foils to the existing cast and are definitely two big reasons to remember this season.

Steve Carell continues to evolve the character of Michael Scott from an insufferable, mean, and bloated windbag in Season One to a tragically flawed man-child in Season Three. He has many standout moments, and increases the mix of funny moments, cringe-worthy statements and monologues, and adds this season many emotionally effective performances.

The Bonus Materials

A complete list of bonus features is shown below. A couple "unique to the DVD" items include "Kevin Cooks Stuff in The Office" a funny vignette featuring Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) and the high-energy "Dwight Schrute Music Video" that has to be seen to be believed. More interesting is the original mini-episode "Excerpts From the 2006 NBC Primetime Preview Hosted by “The Office” Cast" that features a storyline with Michael buying a flat-screen television. This is also funny and is produced with the same quality and care as a regular episode. Hip-hop and comedy fans will also appreciate the full version of the "Lazy Scranton Video."

The commentaries are a mixed bag. For the most part, the commentaries decline with the number of people on the commentary track. In particular, the season finale "The Job" is neither fully entertaining or informative because of all the people who are trying to participate. A better option would have been to make two commentaries for this important episode, featuring John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Rashida Jones for one and Melora Hardin, Editor David Rogers, and Director Ken Kwapis on the other. This would have allowed more discussion of the two principal storylines.

Commentaries with fewer participants are better, even if they are for lesser episodes. The “Initiation” Commentary with BJ Novak, Rainn Wilson, and Leslie David Baker is both informative and hilariously entertaining, for example. Novak and Wilson are also good together along with writer Brent Forrester on "Business School." Another standout commentary is for the penultimate episode "Beach Games." In our opinion, writer Jennifer Celotta could do commentaries for all episodes as she is insightful and pleasant to listen to. Ed Helms and Brian Baumgartner are also effective on this commentary, though Director Harold Ramis does not participate as much as he does on the commentary for "Safety Training."

The "Bloopers" provide the only season-spanning bonus feature and that's a shame. The blooper reel is actually really good, but a twenty minute feature about the storylines for the entire season would have made for a more interesting and unique keepsake. A "Making Of" feature for the Stamford branch office would have also been welcome. Given these missing features and Steve Carell being unable to participate in the commentaries, The Office's bonus features are only good but not great.

The Packaging

The "office" theme is presented well in the packaging. Lots of "highlights" over the episode listing by disc, and cast photos, "post-it" notes, and more. Thankfully, the cover of the DVD set features a normal looking Michael Scott, rather than the infamous "Prison Mike" (from "The Convict") that was shown when the DVD set was first introduced.

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.

Overall

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 uneven commentaries do present flaws to be aware of.

Bonus Materials

Bloopers, photos, and more at the official The Office DVD site.

Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

Disc 4

Purchase the DVD

The Office: Season 3