The Office: season 4 - DVD review
by Kona Gallagher, posted Sep 15th 2008 11:02AM
Any DVD set that has The Office on it is going to be good. That's just a fact. So obviously, The Office: Season 4 DVD set already has a lot going for it. So what I was mainly interested in when I received it was how they dealt with their shortcomings: namely the fact that due to the writer's strike, this set only has 14 episodes.
While The Office fared much better than other shows with its truncated season, I still expect a DVD set without a full season's worth of episodes to have enough bonus features to help make up for it. While the features on this set are pretty standard (deletes scenes, blooper reels, commentaries, etc.) for the most part, the quality makes you forget that the set is light about ten episodes.
I love it when I get bonus physical items like postcards or stickers when I buy a set like this, so I was quite excited to see that this DVD set comes with a shooting script for "Dinner Party," which was the first episode back after the strike. My only complaint is that its designed to fit in between the DVD case and the outer box, making it difficult to wedge it back in after you take it out.
Deleted scenes are pretty standard on DVDs, and I generally find them boring. More often than not, you watch them and realize there was a good reason that they didn't make it into the finished product. However, with The Office, the deleted scenes are almost as good as the episodes themselves. First of all, there are a lot of them. The DVDs include deleted scenes for each episode and when you hit "Play All" on a disk, you won't be finished for quite a while.
What's also great about them is that they flow together relatively well. When I was watching them, I was reminded of the Will Ferrell movie Anchorman, or more specifically, the second movie they cobbled together from all of Anchorman's deleted scenes. The deleted scenes from The Office are so good that they could almost make up their own episode.
Another standard DVD feature that The Office does exceptionally well is Episode Commentaries. These are always hit or miss, but the actors and writers on The Office are so ridiculously funny that watching an episode with commentary is again, almost like watching a bonus episode. Plus, it's always interesting to hear the writers who play parts on the show talk about the episode without being in character. It's fun to hear Mindy Kaling sound smart and together, unlike her character Kelly. It was also heartening to hear Paul Lieberstein sounding a lot less... pathetic than Toby usually does.
Other highlights for me included Michael Scott's "Rabies: The More You Know" promo, Michael's Dunder Mifflin ad and the "Summer Vacation" promo that NBC ran ahead of the 4th season last year. Every time Ryan says the line, "I think I dated a black girl," I crack up.
Not everything in the special features section is great, though. The blooper reel was surprisingly disappointing. I turned it on hoping for interactions between cast members, line improvisations, and just general behind-the-scenes-shenanigans. While there was a little bit of that, mostly it was a cast member looking at the camera, flubbing a line, and laughing. I understand that when you're punch drunk and in the middle of your fifteenth hour in a seventeen hour day, the fact that you're unable to say "sex addict" is hilarious, but for the viewer at home, it just gets a little repetitive.
Another feature I was looking forward to was "Writer's Block," a segment from the Office convention. Not having been able to attend the convention myself, being able to see at least some of it on the DVD set sounded great. Unfortunately, it wasn't. The segment looks like it was shot by a random audience member. The sound doesn't come from the soundboard, instead it's just ambient. Despite the fact that the camera seems to be on a tripod, it's still ridiculously shaky. I was really looking forward to hear all of the show's writers talking about the different episodes they worked on, but the poor quality made me give up after about five minutes or so.
At the end of the day, this DVD set is about $30 online. Even if you only watch the special features once and read through the "Dinner Party" script, you're still getting your money's worth. While season 3 is still my favorite season of the show, the 14 episodes that season 4 does have are great. If you're a fan of The Office, you'll definitely want to add this set to your collection.