Jun 2, 2011

[TV] The Office US: Season 5

The Office: Season 5It's hard to determine the difference between shows that die off after its first one or two seasons and those that manage to continue on for years on end. These days, just reaching five years is a small miracle in itself for shows outside of the reality TV arena. Sad but true.

Getting past the five year mark is tricky for any show. But this time characters are pretty fleshed out and it becomes far too easy to spend an entire episode dedicated to a single character while forgetting all others. Sometimes extend storylines go on for a bit too long at the consequence of other characters fading into the background. The larger the size of the cast regardless of it being an ensemble can certainly make things rather unwieldy. And thus its only the really good shows that manage to find that balance among all players and keep things active, vibrant and feeling like new.

I don't think anyone really expected the US version of The Office to get as far as it did. I mean seriously, it started as a mid-season replacement based on British series of the same name. This is technically a remake - yet another show imported and adapted for US audiences! But despite its origins, I think it's pretty safe to say that the show did something tremendously right in such a manner that helped it surpass its parent show and helped it become something else entirely - something that quite frankly is really funny (in a good way!)

The fifth season of The Office, which is a US adaptation of the British series (as I just mentioned) started in the fall of 2008 and ended in 2009. The season consisted of 24 half-hour episodes and two hour-long episodes. The series was adapted for US audiences by Greg Daniels, who is also an executive producer for the show.

The end of the fourth season featured the exit of HR representative Toby (Paul Lieberstein) and his eventual replacement by Holly Flax (Amy Ryan). It had Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) solidly together as a happy couple but now facing the fact that Pam was going to be away for a few months attending art school in New York. And there's the added complication of Andy (Ed Helms) now being engaged to Angela (Angela Kinsey), who is still carrying on an affair with Dwight (Rainn Wilson). So that's a lot of possible stories for the writers to exploit, and man did they did into the "mythos" of the show - or whatever you prefer to call the show's rather colorful back story.

Holly FlaxImage via WikipediaThis season certainly decided to humanize Michael (Steve Carell) beyond his caricature of the world's strangest boss by adding Holly to the show. They two instantly connected given the unmistakable chemistry between the two characters and the similarity of their humor and interests, among other things. Seeing Michael work so well with Holly was certainly a refreshing experience compared to the rather complicated (and sometimes painful to watch) relationship he shared with his former boss Jan (Melora Hardin). But Jan's pregnancy certainly presented an interesting complication for Michael's rather wishy-washy way of dealing with women.

My favorite quirky concepts introduced in the various episodes this season include the world's smallest Bluetooth headsets used by Jim and Pam to communicate their entire days to one another while she's in New York, Dwight and Jim both being affected by surprisingly negative customer reviews, thus giving them common ground with one another and the whole office debating about what to do with the $3,400 budget surplus given the rival factors arguing for better chairs and a new copier.

And if those weren't enough, we have Ryan (D.J. Novak re-joining the office as a mere temp after his fall from grace, Toby eventually returning to the office and Michael's crazy "Golden Ticket" idea for a major promotion. Of course some may argue that there's an even bigger change in this season that deserves discussion (you know what I mean!) but for now in the interests of avoiding further spoilers, I'll just leave things at that. Needless to say, this season presents a lot of growth for the various characters, and perhaps most of all Michael. And Pam. Go figure!

Needless to say, I felt this was definitely one of the better seasons of the show given the nice amount of character development it spread around while still giving us a sense of forward motion in terms of the plot. As I look back over everything that happened this season, it definitely felt like the theme for the season was growth and many characters got to manifest this in different ways.

Oh and I fail to mention this is the season that Jim finally proposes to Pam? You all knew this was going to happen (from the very beginning even), but you'll never guess how!

Yes, I'm glad the show grew beyond being just the Jim and Pam romantic comedy with a bunch of office antics in the background. Instead it further developed in a stronger ensemble comedy by giving many of its characters more interesting stories to experience and live out.

The Office: Season 5 is a great testament to the show and probably one of its best seasons ever. For me, I have to give it a full 5 quirky Michael Scott sales speeches out of a possible 5.

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