|The Office: Season Two (2005)
Starring: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak
When it was announced that NBC would be producing their own version of the award-winning BBC comedy, “The Office,” it wasn’t exactly the most popular decision among diehard fans of the show. We had already seen plenty of British imports crash and burn (including “Coupling” and “Men Behaving Badly”) in the past, so when the series premiered as a mid-season replacement back in 2005, it seemed like the inevitable would happen. But then, miraculously, the series was renewed for a second season (and better yet, for a full order), and something damn-well incredible happened: it stopped trying to be a carbon-copy of the original and grew as a completely separate entity; one that was on its way to becoming the network’s flagship new program.
Not much has changed since the first year of the show. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is still playing the friend card as regional manager of the Scranton-based paper company, Dunder Mifflin, while his second-in-command, Dwight (Rainn Wilson), maintains his role as office idiot. These characters alone are enough reason to watch the show, but the most intriguing element of the series continues to be the unspoken affection between nice guy Jim (John Krasinski) and girl-next-door Pam (Jenna Fischer), a relationship that the BBC version carefully sculpted into one of the greatest love stories ever told. No joke, and while NBC hasn’t been quite as meticulous with the direction (and perhaps more importantly, pace) of that development, it’s quickly become the most-talked about onscreen romance since Ross and Rachel.
In fact, while a good part of “The Office” has been centered around this particular relationship, the second season introduces several other workplace romances into the mix, including Michael’s one-night stand with boss Jan (Melora Hardin), accounting brat Angela’s (Angela Kinsey) dominatrix-like control over Dwight, and bubbly officemate Kelly’s (Mindy Kaling) high school crush on temp Ryan (B.J. Novak). The second season is also much funnier – with standout episodes like “Office Olympics,” “Booze Cruise,” and the season-ending “Casino Night” – and this can be partly accredited to the supporting actors taking on much larger roles. Of course, it wouldn’t be “The Office” without spells of uncomfortable stupidity from the boss man and his loyal disciple, and it’s clear that both Carell and Wilson have their characters absolutely nailed:
Michael Scott: Abraham Lincoln once said that "If you're a racist, I will attack you with the North" and these are the principles I carry with me in the workplace.
Dwight Schrute: I have been Michael's number two guy for about five years, and we make a great team. We're like one of those classic famous teams. He's like Mozart and I'm like Mozart's friend. No, I'm like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you're gonna get a bullet in the head, courtesy of Butch Cassidy.
The season two DVD doesn’t disappoint, either. In fact, there might even be too many extras here to get through all in one day. That’s not a bad thing, however, and while the highlights of the four-disc box set are the ten cast/crew audio commentaries – including “The Dundies” (disc 1), “Sexual Harassment” (disc 1), “The Client” (disc 2), “Performance Review” (disc 2), “Christmas Party” (disc 2), “Booze Cruise” (disc 2), “The Secret” (disc 3), “Valentine’s Day” (disc 3), “Drug Testing” (disc 4), and “Casino Night” (disc 4) – but there’s a wealth of material that shouldn’t be ignored; namely the 140 minutes worth of deleted scenes. If that’s not enough (and it already is), Universal has also included Michael’s two-minute video presentation from the “Valentine’s Day” episode (“Faces of Scranton”), the NBC.com webisode miniseries “The Office: The Accountants,” the entire collection of Fake PSAs, a 17-minute blooper reel and a short promo for “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (“Steve on Steve”).
Simply put, the second season of “The Office” is one of the best DVD releases of the year. Not only has the show carved out an identity of its own (featuring a unique brand of humor still accessible to American audiences), but the cast seems poised to continue the trend with an even bigger and better third year. Who knows, it could even be the answer to the age-old question: “Will there ever be another ‘Seinfeld’?”