Friday, September 10, 2010

Film Yap: The Office Season Six

The Office has always been in a tricky situation. It was a remake of one of the most critically acclaimed modern comedies. The American counterpart struggled to find its own voice initially while it was on the verge on being canceled. Then during Season Two, the popularity began to grow and its style was unique and not reliant on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

Now the sixth season is hitting DVD and Blu-Ray. This brings the total number of episodes up to 126 with at least one more season on its way. There are now almost 10 times as many American episodes as British ones. It’s an easy thing to say, but it really feels like this version has been on way too long.

Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) has become so unacceptably childish that ignorance is no longer seen as humorous, but just mean. Every episode, I beg that he is fired because nothing he does is even close to reality anymore. In this season he has to confront a group of inner city students because he lied to them about paying for their college tuition. He throws a hissy fit because Phyllis wants to dress up as Santa instead of him. Also, as expected (?), he starts dancing in the middle of Jim and Pam’s wedding.

When I say the show has lost its reality, I’m not saying that it needs to abide in the world I live in. In the early seasons, the show set up its comedy reality and it has now lost its way. It has devolved instead of evolved. This is especially odd because one of the undeniable working parts of the show is the relationship between Jim and Pam. Instead of just playing with “will they, won’t they” they have let them move forward in a satisfying way. Their continued love, which grows with their wedding and child this season, has become one of the best TV romances. Then why is the show afraid to move anyone else do the same?

Every time something changes in the plot, it is reset a few episodes later. Even when Dunder Mifflin is danger of being bankrupt and bought by a new company, it still looks and feels like the exact same show.

Despite its dramatic decrease in quality, there are still fans of this show. I can easily see why. The cast is still very delightful. This season Jenna Fisher’s performance saved even the most lackluster of plots. Same goes for Ed Helms, Ellie Kemper Craig Robinson, and Mindy Kaling.

The show works the best when the actors just get to play off each other over the smaller things. Not banding together to complain about the Employee of the Month or whether the Italian insurance guy is a member of the mafia. Those are stupid plots. Turn this show into a sketch show. Let each episode not have a 30-minute plot weighing it down, but just have 5-7 minute vignettes focused more on laughs and characters. Until then, at least we still have reruns.

For fans of the show, there are plenty of amusing things on the DVD. There are over two hours of deleted scenes, commentaries for select episodes by the cast and crew, and original material. Some of the smaller characters band together to create a podcast led by one of the new actors, In the Loop’s Zach Woods. There is also a fun blooper reel and a full episode of Parks and Creation. The Blu-Ray exclusive BD-Live continues to question its existence and the Universal menus are stilly really ugly/annoying.

Season Six: 2 Yaps

Extras: 3 Yaps

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