This is it. The finale. The many twists and turns and intricate plotlines of the series finally get wrapped up. If you haven’t been watching the series from the start, much resonance will be lost, but the last season is still comprehensible. For those in the know, this is where many of the stories come to some form of end. The battle between Schillinger and Beecher, for instance, has its final act during a performance of Macbeth, and that is precisely the kind of literate, neat, contrived, …TT conclusion one would hope for. The series began in an almost realist vein, but before too long there were elements that were almost Twin Peak-sian in their bizarreness that crept in. The title does say it all – this is a kind of demented fairy tale, and what a wild ride it has been. Don’t expect all loose ends to be tidied up, and don’t hope for a lot of happy endings. The finale moments might seem a bit rushed, but they are certainly pretty dramatic.
The audio track is good in that the dialogue, which is what drives the show, is clear and undistorted (despite plenty of yelling). Otherwise, there isn’t much here to write home about. Surround elements are rare; there is a nice moment during an execution when all the inmates are pounding on the plexiglass, and that has a big, enveloping sound, but there are also instances of crowd scenes where the rear speakers are sadly neglected.
Though the sound isn’t spectacular, it is at least unobjectionable. The picture, however, has more serious issues. The colours are very nice, with good contrasts, flesh tones, and truly superb blacks. The grain level, however, is very bad. The degree of grain does fluctuate, and the case could be made that it adds to the grittiness of the whole affair, but often it looks like your television has bad reception. Some shots are rather soft as well.
Three commentary tracks. Creator Tom Fontana is on two of the (the first and last episodes), while writer Bradford Winters fills in for the behind-the-scenes talent on Episode 6. Cast members join the creators on all three. As far as informational extras are concerned, that’s pretty well it (though better than for many TV box sets). The other extras are 18 deleted scenes, an extended version of the last episode (with a warning that some of the footage is going to look pretty raw, as it was never polished up for broadcast), and the original cast audition tapes.
It’s over, then. But at least it goes out with plenty of strengths. All series should be so lucky.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Cut of Finale
- Cast Audition Tapes