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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

The Office Season Two DVD

After a rocky, six-episode first season, NBC's "The Office" found its audience and its identity with its second season. Season two, now on DVD, departs from its British predecessor and with more episodes, the show delves deeper into the characters' lives. This Emmy winning season solidifies "The Office" as one of the great comedies on television and gives NBC hope for taking back Thursdays.

Season two resumes life at Dunder-Mifflin, the Scranton branch - a mid-range paper supply company run by incompetent boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell). His employees include authority-hungry Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), permanent temp Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), model employee Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and engaged receptionist Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer). In season two, life at Dunder-Mifflin often moves out of the office to locations such as Chili's, a booze cruise and Hooters.

Ironically, it is these moments out of the office that the cast shines and we learn even more about the characters. Whether chatting outside during a fire drill or gambling at a charity casino night, character interaction peaks in the more social settings. However, "The Office" strikes the right balance - not inundating viewers with only office-related humor, but also putting the characters in social situations that Americans must often take part in like the office Christmas party or a company awards presentation.

The crux of season two revolves around the romantic tension between Jim and Pam developed in season one. The second season sees Jim's feelings toward Pam growing more serious as Pam and fiancé Roy (David Denman) begin planning for their wedding. The intimate moments between the two increase and culminate in a cliff-hanger season finale. Their unofficial romance switches from heartwarming to heart-wrenching in blinks of the eye, but Krasinski and Fischer interact with sensitivity and sweetness.

Even with the wildly popular Jim and Pam storyline, the series' dominant star remains Steve Carell. Carell proved his comedic talent with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and his cinematic success has contributed to the television show's growing popularity. Michael is obnoxious and offensive, but just like in "Virgin," Carell is able to bring heart to his character. Even when Michael is spying on his employees' emails, Carell makes us feel bad when the overbearing boss finds out he didn't get invited to a barbeque.

"The Office - Season Two" is crammed with special features, but many of them are already available online. Included are 10 three-minute webisodes that premiered over the summer, fake Public Service Announcements parodying NBC's "The More You Know" campaign and deleted scenes and outtakes. Special features not available online include even more deleted scenes and outtakes, director and cast commentaries on 10 episodes and "The Office" Olympic promos.

The most enjoyable features may be the extensive deleted scenes. Because the show must pack everything into under a half hour, entire storylines get tossed. These belong mostly to the supporting characters and are often funnier than scenes already in the episode.

Season two of "The Office" finally finds solid ground for the new series. While the humor may be more blatant than BBC's "The Office," it has found a home with American audiences. The second season develops a momentum and maintains it all the way through its finale, delivering a comedic gem with each episode. A series about a paper supply office may sound mundane, but "The Office" is able to find humor in everything from diversity training to performance reviews, complete with uncomfortable pauses and budding romances that drive the series.