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on September 2, 2008
Disappointing season compared to 1,3, and especially 2? Probably. Overpriced box set considering the shortened season due to the writer's strike? Definitely. Still one of the best shows on tv and still worth owning? Ye-esh. So should you buy it now or discounted later?

Well, i'm a fan of The Office and have all 4 seasons on dvd(recently addicted so i had to play catch-up). This was a day-1 purchase for me only because i love the show; and because i had a gift card and some discounts coming to me. I bought the special edition at Target with the bonus 5th disc being The Office Q&A convention in Scranton, PA with the supporting cast. If you don't know what to expect(i didn't), above all else don't expect professionalism or anything fancy. The convention looked huge and was packed with Office fans! The camera-work had a very "we coulda done this with a camcorder"-look to it. It has the standard host/audience's questions format. It lasts about an hour and is fun if you're a die-hard fan. However, i thought it was going to be the support cast for 30 minutes, then the main stars for 30. But Steve, Rainn, John, Jenna, and B.J.(he's in the writer's convention extra though) NEVER appear. Oh well.

As for the other discs, haven't gone through it all yet(episodes or extras-bloopers, deleted scenes, etc) but i was disappointed to see there appears to be only 4 audio commentaries. Now, with a shortened season(which is not their fault) i would think they would try to put as many extras as possible to help make up for it. And with such a large and great ensemble cast, they have plenty of people to choose from to help do this. Yet only 4 commentaries? I only nit-pick about this cause i love the commentaries with the cast and crew and find them(& the deleted scenes) as enjoyable as the shows themselves.

The bonus script is, uh, nice. But you're gonna have to put it in with the dvd's everytime or the outer casing will be too big/loose(you'll see what i mean). The Office sticky notes bonus are also included(yay?). All in one big box for $37 this week at Target. The standard version is on sale for $30 this week minus the big box, 5th disc, and notes. I think Best Buy has their spec.ed., but that comes with a t-shirt/water bottle combo(?).

Anyway, i hope this helps a little as to whether you want to fork over for the Target 'deluxe' edition or not. Honestly, after all my credits, i only paid $26 for mine but still feel slighltly jipped on the commentaries and no Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam, Ryan, or Toby at the convention(but that might be my fault as i didn't research who was included). Overall 4 stars for dvd set, minus one for price and lack of extra extras to make up for shortened season. Having said all that, i'm gonna hang on to my copy and watch it over and over again, but i'm biased that way. And before you reach for that not-helpful button... FACT: my preview is still better than most reviews like "office rox", "office sux", "my shipment hasn't arrived".

(edit: besides the (great)deleted scenes for each episode and 4 commentaries, the other two standard major extras of note are the bloopers which run about 22 minutes and the The Office "Writer's Block" Convention which runs about 52 minutes. Greg Daniels, Jen Celotta, Mike Schur, Mindy Kaling, BJ Novak, and Eisenberg & Stupnitsky are notables there, but still no Paul Lieberstein)
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on September 8, 2008
I have been waiting since May for this set -- I was traveling most of the spring (once the blankety-blank strike was finally resolved) so I missed the final 6 episodes of the season. What a joy to be able to watch the whole season without disruption!

There are so many wonderful story lines in Season 4 - Dwight's beet farm B&B, Michael and Jan's disasterous dinner party, Ryan's big city social life, and the development of Jim and Pam's relationship -- that even with fewer episodes than seasons 2 & 3, the Office crew managed to pack a full season of great writing, acting and directing into a short season.

Yet with all the big stories, there are plenty of small moments that are laugh out loud funny: Darryl's description of his gang cred (I fell off my couch at "Newsies"), the two versions of "Mad Libs," Angela's description of the claw marks on her frozen vegetables, Toby being...Toby.

I'd rate this one a definite "buy."
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on September 30, 2007
First off, let me say I am completely in love with The Office, and it is one of my favorite TV shows in recent history. The plot is engaging, the story entertaining and the characters very memorable. Even people who have not seen the first few seasons would not miss much if they start with the fourth season.

However, my review is more of the Unbox Amazon player and service than the TV show itself.

I write episode recaps and review of the office for a small fan website and even though I watch the show on TV when it first airs, I like to have a copy of it to rewatch again while I am writing. Last season I used the iTunes season pass to accomplish this, but since the Office is not available on iTunes this year, I decided to download the video from Amazon instead.

My first impressions were very good! It was very easy to plug in my current account information into their one-click shopping and buy the episode. However, I then had to download their proprietary software to play the video. Well, Amazon neglected to mention that the player would not work on a Macintosh computer, making my purchase completely worthless. Furthermore, they do not have any refund process in place, and even though I have not downloaded the video, and am incapable of downloading it, I have yet to receive a refund.

Luckily, my girlfriend also enjoys this show and does have a Windows computer and had downloaded it, so I went over to her place to watch it, and the video quality is terrible. It looks like it was recorded on a cheap VCR. Much much worse video quality than the episodes I downloaded last season off of iTunes. Despite that, the files are twice as large as the ones off of iTunes, to the tune of 1 GB per hour of video.

All in all i rate the video as a 10/10, but the service as 1/10.
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on August 6, 2008
Season 4 is the series furthest departure thus far from what makes The Office incredible: smart, quick-witted, dead-pan humor. In Season 2, watching The Office was a lot like working in an office; you get to know people at work and learn a little bit about their personal lives, but essentially it's about life at work. Season 3 began the departure from what had been a mostly clean (save, of course, "That's what she said") comedy series of mostly flat characters and Season 4 continues rounding out characters so that the show now has less to do with The Office and more to do with personal issues, love triangles and "big" issues. Jan's character, once a great counterpoint to Michael, has become more of a distraction to the show than anything and Toby's departure marks the end of one of the most dynamic back-and-forth relationships to live on screen.

I hate to say it but what was the smartest comedy on television is turning into just another slapstick comedy show, and while I'll no doubt keep watching it because I'm engrossed by some of the characters, I'm not sure it's the type of show worth scheduling my Thursday nights around. Office meet DVR; DVR meet The Office.

Chances are good I'll still buy this season.
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on July 13, 2008
This was a great season, and I see a lot of complaints about this kind of price for such a short season. There's a reason: MANY of these episodes were a FULL HOUR, as opposed to other seasons where almost all episodes were a half hour. Compare the full running time of this set to seasons 2 and 3 and you'll see it costs less, even though it's only a bit shorter in overall length.
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on August 14, 2008
Season 4 got weird for me. In part it was the network week after week giving a one hour slot to a series that has always thrived on the short and sweet 22 minute format. The hour long episodes all felt by turns bloated with unnecessary silliness (as opposed to the usual necessary kind) or just stretched too thin. Then of course the second half of the season felt like a mad dash to get somewhere after the writer's strike. But what has really been lost for me is the importance of the setting. The best episodes of "The Office" take place in the office. Pretty much all of season 2 happened right there. The setting is crucial, and yet seasons 3 and 4 wander farther and farther away. An episode like "Phyllis' Wedding" (season 3) is special, and it should feel special, like a refreshing fieldtrip, and a chance for Michael to make a fool of himself in front of new and greater numbers of people, but it gets lost in a series of changing settings. This show is not called "The Beet Farm" or "Times Square" or "The Condo"; part of what is great, even essential, about The Office is the slightly claustrophobic, fluorescent-lit familiarity of the office itself.
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Minor Spoilers!

This is the first half hour episode of the season for THE OFFICE and the show is all the better for it. Although I enjoyed all four of the hour-long episodes that started the season, even on the very good ones my internal clock kept telling me that the show should be over after the first half hour. In the past, some of the extended episodes have worked quite well, in particular the superb "Beach Games" from late Season Three. The widely reported rumor last spring was that NBC wanted the show to expand to a full hour on a permanent basis. Hopefully the relatively flatness of the past four hour-long episodes has permanently squashed that idea.

In this episode, the Scranton branch is asked to participate in the making of a commercial to publicize Dunder Mifflin Infinity. But after learning that the Scranton people could only be involved in the final 2 or 3 seconds, merely enough time to wave at the camera, Michael insists on his people making their own video. There are many great moments in the episode, none so great as the "director's cut" of the Scranton-produced commerical that they play at Poor Richard's Pub after the officially authorized version plays on TV.

I have upset some people the past three years by letting it be known that I have not been a huge fan of Dwight. Sometimes he has been less of a real character than a caricature of a character. I'm finding that I'm enjoying him a lot more in Season Four as he struggles with his inner pain following his break up with Angela after he euthanized her cat. He constantly is going online to play the game Second Life, obviously for escapism. And he suffers uncomfortably as Andy recounts his efforts to get to First Base with Angela. One of the funniest bits of the episode comes when Andy tells him that he did get to first base with Angela, though she remained astonishingly unresponsive except to moan the letter D, which Andy bizarrely interprets to mean An-DEE, but which Dwight interprets in its more obvious sense.

So, all in all a great episode. The director, by the way, was Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman.
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on June 11, 2008
Special features for anyone interested:

133 minutes of deleted scenes.
4 commentaries.
22:38 blooper reel.
53-minute Writers' Block panel from The Office convention held in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
A few shorter things like the 23-second faux "The More You Know" PSA about rabies.
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on May 8, 2010
They should have stopped after three.

Season four is where the show's humorous moments are outweighed by the "this is just too stupid" moments.

In one episode, for example, Michael Scott is driving a car with Dwight. The GPS system in the car says "right turn" and, with Dwight protesting that they should only bear right, Michael turns right and drives into a lake.

You know the show is losing it when Michael Scott is portrayed as even more demented than Dwight.

Season four is still laugh-out-loud funny at times, but usually not enough to make it worth your time. The only reason to watch season four is as a soap opera: There are some interesting things going on in the characters lives, if you care enough about them.
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on December 3, 2009
I recently bought season 4 for $9.99 which is a pretty good deal. But tonight I caught "Launch Party" on WTBS and saw that there was more content on the broadcast than was included here on Amazon. Specifically, after Michael locks the pizza delivery kid in the conference room, there is a scene where Kevin and Oscar are researching the penalties for kidnapping on the internet. On the TBS broadcast, kevin had a few lines about kidnapping being the physical "asportation" of a person. These lines were not included on the Amazon version. Obviously this makes me wonder what else is missing on these episodes.
Overall, I love The Office; Season 4 is hilarious, Amazon's on demand video and Unbox work very well on my computer running Windows Vista with a DSL connection; and I was happy with the price I paid. But I can't give 5 stars if I'm not getting all the content.
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