Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Video review: "The Office: Season Nine"

What happens when a very good television comedy loses its star and iconic main character?

Usually it spells the end, but “The Office,” which at one point was the highest-rated series on NBC, managed to trudge on for another two seasons without Steve Carell. Though the show clearly dipped in quality after losing the manic energy of Carell’s Michael Scott, it still boasted plenty of laughs -- and more somber moments than previously seen.

Despite the naysayers determined to shut down fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin early, “The Office” made for pretty good television during its ninth and final season.

As might be expected, company lovebirds Pam and Jim (Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski) took up some of the vacated limelight. But the show also found time to focus more on previously tertiary characters. Most notable was Ed Helms as self-deluded fussbudget Andy, who assumed Michael’s role as boss and resident empty suit.

By Season Nine, Helms’ movie career was taking off, so his character was largely shunted aside, leaving “fascist nerd” Dwight to finally step into his long-sought role of regional manager for the Scranton office of the fictional paper company. Rainn Wilson, who has created one of the most unique characters ever seen on TV, got to spread his wings a little further.

It was also nice to see Erin (Ellie Kemper), Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and Darryl (Craig Robinson) soak up some more screen time, and complete character development journeys that knocked them out of the grooved slots they had settled into.

There are plenty of television shows that overstay their welcome, diminishing their legacy by ending their runs with superfluous seasons – “Friends” and “Frasier” come to mind. “The Office” was not one of them.

Extra features are quite handsome, and you don’t have to splurge for the most expensive package to get the good stuff.

The DVD version comes with more than two hours of deleted scenes, original audition tapes from 2003 (including then-unknown Seth Rogen!), a cast retrospective, blooper reel and footage of the final table read.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray edition and you add an extensive panel discussion looking back on the entire TV series.



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