In the history of the workplace sitcom, never have the professional stakes been lower than at Scranton, Pa.’s Dunder Mifflin, where the only objective is pushing paper. Literally. But the personal stakes for our Office drones couldn’t have been higher in season 3. Pam’s rejection of Jim sends him straight into the arms of another DM branch: Stamford, a.k.a. Bizarro Scranton, where the collars are crisper, the lighting is better, and the boss is good-looking and effective, instead of just imagining himself to be. Splitting the action — or inaction — between two offices could have been disastrous. But it made us appreciate clueless Michael (Steve Carell) and his uncorporate family — prodigal son Jim (John Krasinski), receptionist/heartbreaker Pam (Jenna Fischer), power-hungry Dwight (Rainn Wilson), and other eccentric cubicle dwellers — even more.
For such a quick-witted comedy, the eight episode commentaries aren’t as sharp as you’d expect, and Carell is entirely absent. But some three hours of deleted scenes — funnier takes of already hilarious sequences, beefed-up stories for the supporting cast — compensate. (The biggest bonus is more of Rashida Jones’ sharp-tongued Karen.) And you’ll cruise through the mock mini-docs, like the one with Dwight knocking out his best lines — ”I now have the strength of a grown man and a little baby” — and kickiest karate moves. As for the break-room cooking segment — vending-machine haute cuisine, anyone? — well, chef Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) shouldn’t quit his day job. A-