The Office: Season 1 (2005)

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Overall Rating 80%
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Ranked #173
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Connections: The Office

A mediocre paper company in the hands of Scranton, PA branch manager Michael Scott. This mockumentary follows the everyday lives of the manager and the employees he "manages." The crew follows the employees around 24/7 and captures their quite humorous and bizarre encounters as they will do what it takes to keep the company thriving. --IMDb
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Review by Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg
Added: August 12, 2008
Amongst the giant, ever-increasing garbage pile of television shows that plagues America's TV sets, The Office brightly stands out. It began its run on NBC in early 2005 and has since aired four seasons with a total of sixty-six episodes while now preparing to jump into its fifth season this autumn. As an American adaptation of the highly acclaimed United Kingdom original sharing the same name, many people were heavily skeptical of it fairing well in comparison upon its debut. Though once it showed to have its own creative mold growing and easily settled into place, the American version of The Office has proven to be one of the funniest sitcoms ever.

Starring Steve Carell and joined by a cast of equally talented unknowns (that is, relatively unknown around the time of its inception), the show is filmed in a mockumentary style from a documentary crew's point of view as they record the lives of employees working in an office for a paper supplier company known as Dunder Mifflin. Carell heads this office as a particularly incompetent manager named Michael Scott. When talking about the atmosphere he tries to create in the workplace, Michael says, "I'm a friend first and a boss second and probably a entertainer third." Despite the many attempts to win over his employees by trying to make them laugh and feel comfortable around him, Michael always fails due to his overall insensitivity, ignorance, and idiotic personality. His huge ego blindly tells him that everyone in the office adores him, whereas to a large majority of the office workers, he is pretty much seen as an everyday nuisance.

With Michael's actions and overall demeanor being very unprofessional, the limp jokes and remarks he makes have the ability to render people utterly speechless as they are more often than not unbelievably senseless or offensive. Herein lies the best humor in the show which comes from its awkward situations that are almost always caused by Michael. For example, thinking it to be a hilarious gag when he pretends to fire an employee and it blowing up in his face, like one would expect. The camera always works perfectly in capturing these moments by letting scenes linger with uncomfortable pauses while catching the reactions of others. Unlike just about every other sitcom where the characters roll with the punches of jokes and blankly move on, the documentary feel and reality are kept grounded, allowing for true emotion to correlate with genuine behavior.

One employee who does not mind the conduct of Michael Scott's is salesman Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson); however, this is only because he acts as a sycophant to him. Often referring to himself arrogantly as assistant regional manager and having to be corrected that his minor title next to being a salesman is actually assistant to the regional manager, Dwight tends to assert himself as a superior amongst his fellow employees. By being a kiss-ass along with having a power-hungry nature, he easily warrants himself to be disliked just as much as Michael around the office. Deskmate and salesman Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), in effort to retain a reasonable degree of tolerance for Dwight, enjoys playing unwelcome practical jokes on him. And often conspiring with Jim in such pranks is receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer).

Aside from the comedy in The Office, there is also a little bit of a delicate romance dynamic that is found between Jim and Pam. Jim secretly has feelings for Pam, but he does not ask her out because she is already engaged (has been for three years without a wedding date ever being set) to a worker in the warehouse named Roy Anderson (David Denman). In subtle manners, you catch instances showing chemistry the two co-workers have together, and you sense the flirtation which tells that more than friendship is wanted, not only from Jim but from Pam as well. Their little romantic drama steadily unfolds along the way in the series, becoming a prime staple of the show. And, surprisingly, this relationship is never displayed in a cheap or corny fashion.

Having just six episodes here in this first season, lots of humor arises from and revolves around such simple plots as: a consultant needing to visit and teach a lesson on racial diversity due to a numerous amount of complaints filed against Michael (specifically speaking about him doing an impression of a Chris Rock routine); a new health care plan needing to be chosen by Michael, but he ends up putting the decision in the hands of Dwight because he does not want the responsibility; a birthday party is arranged for an employee more than a month before its date in an attempt to boost morale over the rumors of downsizing; a basketball game is played between the office workers and the warehouse workers; and a purse saleswoman (Amy Adams) entering the office, who gains much unwanted attention from some of the men. These episodes work nicely as a great platform for the central characters, in addition to all of them sporting clever writing and many laugh-out-loud moments. I recommended you do not fully judge this show based on these alone, though. That may sound like somewhat of a put-down for this season, but it most certainly is not. What I mean by it is that the series really peaks with its subsequent seasons by upgrading and improving upon elements of the show, making it even greater than it already was.

Truly, there are no substantially negative comments that I can make about this short, debut season. Nor can I make any about the actual DVD it is presented on. Although there are only two special features, commentaries and deleted scenes, they are actually quite sufficient by themselves. Five commentary tracks are accessible with two sharing an episode and one without. Various cast and crew members pop up on these, offering fairly interesting listens. As for the deleted scenes, which approximately total an hour, you can access a truckload of them available for every episode. Whereas such content can usually be lackluster, these scenes are filled with plenty of decent footage that provides additional laughs and character development which would easily fit back into their respective episodes (especially since they were mostly only cut due to time constraint).

As I have been trying to point out with this review, this is not your typical sitcom. This is one that is always wonderfully fresh and hilarious. Its writers are brilliant. Its whole cast is superb. Furthermore, this is one show that can maintain a strong, equal balance of comedy and drama (more existent in latter seasons). So, if you have not become a fan of The Office, you should definitely consider purchasing all seasons on DVD. Trust me, you will be doing your funny bone a huge favor.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added August 12, 2008 at 9:05pm
I enjoyed it, but so many lines / situations were taken from the original. I mean verbatim. Especially the pilot. I'm all for them remaking it, but to make the same episodes over again is just pointless. The later seasons are better, since they had to come up with (slightly) original ideas.

Season 1: 7/10.
Griffinheart #2: Griffinheart - added August 12, 2008 at 10:13pm
I enjoyed it as well, but I usually felt I could find something I liked better elsewhere. 7.5/10
George Snow #3: George Snow - added August 13, 2008 at 12:25pm
I've seen the British version a few times, but I have a hard time with the accents. This is one of the few shows I can watch numerous times and continue to find the situations hilarious.
Optimus Prime #4: Optimus Prime - added November 4, 2009 at 9:03pm
I watched all this season today, and about 3/4 of the second. Fun for a while, but the subtle and uncomfortable humor kinda stuff just gets old. 8/10.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added November 4, 2009 at 9:14pm
Watch the original. Please. You won't regret it.
Optimus Prime #6: Optimus Prime - added November 5, 2009 at 5:03pm
I've seen the original... a few times. Ricky Gervais makes it a lot better. The British version is by far better than this one, but doesn't mean this one is bad at all.
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