Grade:  A-

TV comedy

Not rated

Maybe it’s because the series is in perpetual rerun. Maybe it’s the popularity of Steve Carell ever since he turned up on moviegoers’ radar with The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Or maybe, like all classic comedies, it’s because the ensemble cast is fantastic from top to bottom. Whatever the case, younger viewers have discovered the American version of the popular British TV show, and Parrot Analytics reported that the audience demand for The Office (US version) is a whopping 36.3 times more in demand than the average TV series in the US.

The Office also might be the most successful American TV adaptation of a British television comedy ever—and that’s saying something, since Veep, Shameless, Sanford and Son, Three’s Company, and All in the Family were all based on Britcoms. It’s certainly the longest running, with 188 episodes first airing from 2005-2013.

Two years before this documentary-style sitcom was removed from the Netflix lineup in 2021, The Office was the most watched show on the streaming service. Even recently a Cosmopolitan writer intoned, “How dare you, Netflix?” Fans hold grudges, especially when they no longer know where they can see the show. Cosmo reported that the first five seasons of The Office are now free on Peacock, but you’ll need Peacock Premium/Plus (a paid level) to watch the rest of the show.

Or, if you don’t want to keep jumping from streaming service to streaming service like an Office groupie, you could just plunk down the cash to get the entire series on high-definition Blu-ray. It looks terrific and comes with a bundle of fun bonus features.

Everyone who punches in at the Scranton branch office of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is a bona fide character. In 2007 and 2008 the show won for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series from peers at the Screen Actors Guild, but if it were up to fans they would have had a lot more trophies to put in their case. The series began with a solid core that established the character types and dynamics that would persist throughout the series’ long run, even with cast changes:

Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) was the regional manager and a walking illustration of the Peter Principle—which theorized that members of any hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent. Michael was well intentioned but clearly starved for love and adulation. He was also the reason a company needs an HR officer, because he had a habit of making outrageous and insensitive remarks.

Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) was a salesman and also assistant to the regional manager, a name-only title that Michael created for his favorite disciple, who happened to be Amish and also ran a beet farm with his reclusive and equally odd brother.

Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) was the girl-next-door type who worked as a receptionist and, though shy and reserved, could be persuaded to help with office pranks. For six years or so her and Jim’s mutual office attraction added a romantic tension.

Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) was a salesman who was both a quintessential nice guy and an inveterate practical joker, with Dwight his favorite target and Pam the object of his affection.

Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) was a salesman who made his quota and nothing more, with a dry sense of humor directed at anyone who disrupted his blissful routine. He also easily tired of Michael’s constant references to him being African American.

Phyllis Lapin (Phyllis Smith) appeared older and more reserved than she actually was, and her full figure was often the target of Michael’s unintentional insults—misplaced assurances that she’s actually attractive.

Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery) was the wild one in the office, an openly flirtatious and promiscuous supply relations representative who could throw innuendos like others throw shade.

Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) was just the opposite of Meredith, an ultra-religious conservative and cat-lover who sometimes smuggled one of her cats into her desk.

Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) was the sweetheart of the group, a large, not-terribly-bright man whose humor, as with Michael’s, tended toward the juvenile.

Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) was a gay Latinx man trying to keep a low profile, for the most part, though often Michael wouldn’t let him.

Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) was the quality assurance guy who was a little on the shady side—or at least his eyebrow-raising suggestions suggested as much.

Other characters introduced later who logged a lot of episodes included Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling), Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein), Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson), and Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper). Robert California (James Spader), Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate), Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates), and Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) also had recurring roles, and Deangelo Vickers (Will Ferrell) appeared briefly.

A day at The Office could turn into just about anything:  challenges, drills, Olympics, debates, mandatory meetings, sensitivity training, demonstrations that had little to do with selling paper, “bonding” experiences, outings, romances—everything except for actual work, it seemed.

Each season in this set comes in its own Blu-ray case, and the nine cases are housed in a colorful slipcase. The 188 episode titles and two-line descriptions are printed on the insides of the covers, visible through the blue plastic cases—not the most convenient, but better than nothing.

Bonus features include in-character productions such as Dwight’s music video, Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin ad, Dunder Mifflin PSAs like “Rabies: The More You Know,” plus extended episodes, blooper reels, Office webisodes, original cast audition tapes, table reads, cast farewells, and commentary tracks. There’s a lot here for fans to enjoy.

Entire family:  No (younger kids won’t respond to the largely adult humor)

Run time:  4136 min. Color (counting bonus features, 75 hours run time)

Studio/Distributor:  Universal/NBC

Aspect ratio:  1.78:1

Featured audio:  DTS HDMA 5.1 (Season 1) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (remaining seasons)

Bonus features:  A

Amazon link

Not rated (would be TV-14)

Language: 4/10—The worst profanities are bleeped out, but there are plenty of lesser swearwords

Sex:  4/10—Innuendo and sex jokes in most episodes, plus some censored sex toys, censored/blurred topless flashing and male butts, talk of having sex, and references to all types of sex; some characters also make out on camera and have sex (we are led to believe) off-camera or behind a door, etc.; males are depicted shirtless and in boxer shorts from time to time. It was a network show, though, so everything made it past censors

Violence:  2/10—Wrestling, some punching, an attempt to beat up Jim that’s thwarted by pepper spray, and various accidents (getting hit by a car in the parking lot, parkour rough landings, a car driving into a pond, a shotgun being fired, etc.)

Adult situations: 3/10—Some vomiting, drinking, smoking, and drug references, with several characters implied to over-imbibe, politically incorrect stereotype humor,

Takeaway:  The British version of The Office only ran for 14 episodes, while this American version was just getting warmed up by then; the long run is a tribute to this comedy of character

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