The Office picks up with Michael Scott (Steve Carell, my current lord of comedic timing) still at the helm of his adored staff. It was widely known, though not popularly accepted among the staff, that the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Boss” would soon be leaving for real. His departure from the show was a slow burn, as Office writers (it’s a long list, but at least give credit to Greg Daniels, Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak and Paul Lieberstein) subtly pulled Carell from the spotlight and allowed the minor characters to more regularly dominate each episode.
As such, the fall of the relationship between Erin (Ellie Kemper) and Gabe (Zach Woods), and the rise of the relationship between Erin and Andy (Ed Helms) was successfully pushed to the forefront. Office regulars like Kevin, Kelly, Oscar, and most notably, Darryl (Craig Robinson) were finally allowed to flourish, and the ensemble was more well rounded than it's been for the past few seasons, making it easier to let Michael Scott walk out the door. We also can't forget about Jim and Pam, who have been stuck with a fairly bland storyline compared with their “will they or won’t they?” dance during the early years. In season seven their storyline has enough redeeming qualities to keep their scenes witty and charming.Will Ferrell is the first that comes to mind, playing Deangelo Vickers, yet another awkward boss who intends on being Scott’s replacement. Ferrell’s comedic style never seemed to gel with that of the show, but he still made us laugh. Kathy Bates is back playing Dunder Mifflin Sabre's owner, and we're also treated to one more appearance of David Koechner’s obscene character, Todd “Fudge” Packer. Ray Romano and Jim Carrey also make appearances, though in the case of Carrey, don’t blink near the end of the season finale or you’ll miss him.
Despite how vital it was for the show’s long-lasting health to provide even more face-time to its ensemble cast, the two most important episodes of the season still centered on Michael Scott: The Michael and Holly (Amy Ryan returning for the role) proposal episode, then Michael’s final goodbye. These two shows may not be the best way to gauge the success of the season, but will end up being the rubric most fans use. This fan approved on every aspect of the two episodes. They drew plenty of laughs, more than a few face-palm moments of awkwardness and — in the goodbye episode, at least — a water slide of tears.
The Office may have jumped the shark seasons ago, but its characters have a long-lasting impact that still matters. Now I’m curious to see if Carell’s absence opens up a chapter of fresh ideas and directions for the writers to take the show in season eight.
From the show to the extras, I was pleased all around with the Blu-ray package. While the HD of the Blu-Ray discs don’t do much for the visuals of The Office (other than embellishing some unflattering physical qualities on the cast members), the four-disc set has plenty of additional material to keep you occupied. Each disc has a compilation of very funny deleted scenes, and at least one full episode with commentary from various Office workers (generally, it's two cast members and two crew members per commentary).
Best of all, though, are the bloopers. As deadpan, dry and utterly hilarious as The Office can be, it should be a constant amazement that any work gets done on the set without cast members breaking character to chuckle. The fourth wall is routinely shattered for the bloopers, which end up rivaling the episodes for big laughs.
The Office: Season Seven is a great buy on either Blu-Ray or DVD. The show may not be in its prime anymore, (season two is still king), but avid fans will surely want to add this set to their collection, if only to check in on Michael Scott once again, now that he is gone.