Warner Brothers Gift Guide
If you have a television fan on your Christmas list, you can’t do much better than Blu-rays from Warner Brothers this year. No other studio gives you more of your favorite television favorites on Blu-ray. They have some of television’s hottest titles, and these babies are all in wonderful high definition. This is not a paid advertisement. The picks we’re providing here are really some of our favorite titles this year. Here’s a few of our favorites that are available from Warner Brothers for this Holiday Season:
Friends: The Complete Series:
“So no one told you life was gonna be this way. Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D O A. It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear. When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. But I’ll be there for you…”
And for ten years and 236 episodes, they were there for you. It was part of NBC’s famous Must See TV Thursday Night. The show has been a perennial Top 10 placeholder in the Nielsen ratings. Who would have ever imagined that a show about six twenty-something (now thirty-something) friends would cause such a commotion? The show has thrived on a very simplistic premise – a group of six friends hanging out together in New York City and more or less enjoying themselves. The setup immediately connected with Gen X’ers and spread like wildfire. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now Warner Brothers has done the unthinkable. They’ve released the entire series on high-definition Blu-ray. They weren’t content to merely give fans the series in one HD set. That wouldn’t do for the faithful followers of this sit-com. It was no ordinary show, and this is no ordinary release. While the show was mostly released in full-frame formats to mimic the broadcast presentations, Warner went above and beyond the call of duty. Every episode has been re-mastered from the 35mm original negatives, but it has also been expanded to widescreen format. You may be an expert on Friends, but you’ve never seen this show like this before.
Supernatural: The Complete 7th Season:
They’ve just saved the world, yet again. If you watch Supernatural, you know I’m talking about the Winchester brothers Sam and Dean. You also know by now that saving the world is never the end of the story. Each time they put themselves out there to stop the big evil from putting a major hurt on planet Earth, it comes at a cost, and this season is no exception.
If you are a fan of the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, you were more than likely disappointed in the remake a couple of years ago on ABC. Your hope is now once again restored. Supernatural is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to The Night Stalker. Like Kolchak, the Winchester brothers are faced with weekly incarnations of evil. They’re forced to research these legends and figure out a way to stop them. As Kolchak discovered, it’s a thankless job. Sure, Supernatural is populated with all sorts of beasties and nasties, but it also manages to hold on to a sense of humor that rounds out these adventures to make this one of the most entertaining shows around.
Each episode of Supernatural is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you through a AVC/MPEG-4 codec. As you might expect, this show is dark in more than just its nature. Much of the action occurs at night, so black levels need to be spot-on, or any detail can be quickly washed away like blood pools in a hurricane. Supernatural delivers with great shadow definition and deep levels of black. I’ve seen the broadcast HD versions, and these are even better. What is remarkable about the colors is that they manage to hold on to such fine definition even under intense low-light filming conditions. There is nothing about this transfer that will keep you from enjoying the best horror series since Kolchak.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season:
Warner Brothers has entered the popular scene with yet another vampire series taken from yet another powerful franchise of popular books. Enter The Vampire Diaries. While I’ve avoided the Twilight series so far (I’ve had my fill of teenage angst as a high school teacher). The series follows loosely the series of novels written by L.J. Smith. If you’re a fan of the books, you have to take a few things into consideration. Characters work differently on screen than in a book, so many of them have been changed. Perhaps the biggest change is that Elena’s four-year-old sister is now a teenage younger brother. You may not like the change, but it does make for better prime-time drama, doesn’t it? The crew attempted to keep as close to the source material as possible, while attempting to create their own special television universe. I’m not sure about the books. I’ve never read them. I do know that this show works.
This is the year of the return. Jeremy can now see ghosts. That means he gets to talk with some old favorites who had come and gone. There’s also an episode that brings everyone back for a short time. It’s a great moment to see the likes of Rose (Cohan), Anna (Jow), Vicki (Ewell) and Lexi (Kebbel).
The Vampire Diaries is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec. Warner has done things right by providing only six episodes on a disc. That means a solid high-definition image presentation. Most impressive are solid black levels that allow a lot of shadow detail on the many darkness scenes. Colors are not flashy but are quite strong.
Chuck: The Final Season:
“My name is Charles Carmichael, and I have one final question for you. Have you ever had to subdue a Basque terrorist on a Swiss train? Or fight your way through the jungles of Southeast Asia? Or, take out an arms dealer with a penchant for murder and ice cream? Well… we have.”
And, if you’ve been a fan of Chuck for the last five years, you know exactly what we’re talking about here. And, for now, the ride has come to a close. Fear not, fans. This is quite a satisfying ending. And when you consider that by rights the show should have gone away after the second season, if you trust those guys at the Nielsen’s, we’ve been given quite a lot of bonus time with Chuck.
It’s a wonderful final send-off for the gang of Chuck. Morgan struggles with the Intersect, and for good reason. It’s defective, and it’s frying his brain. The season includes a recurring role by The Martrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss. She plays a rival to Carmichael Industries and a love interest for Casey. If that’s not enough, how about Bo Derek as… Bo Derek, and she’s a spy. All of the characters get great moments, and the end story will leave you more than a little emotional. I won’t ruin it in case you’re waiting for the discs. They crew took quite a chance with one of the more unusual character turns for a series and leave you full circle once again. Too often shows leave you unsatisfied. And, while you might never be able to get enough Chuck, this will certainly be a fitting goodbye, while holding the door just slightly ajar for future adventures in one form or another.
The show has survived this long because of one of the best fan bases in television history. They might not be the largest, but they’ve carried this show on their shoulders for five years. The show has been on the ratings bubble each year that it’s been on. It wasn’t even on the schedule the second year, at first. Fans did the usual letter writing and internet campaigns. But these fans were smart. They went directly to the show’s sponsors and committed to buying their products. Fans went to Subway and put together viewing parties where they would buy subs and watch the show. These fans understood that emotions and passions are certainly important to the network executives, but this is, after all a business. They showed support to the people who provide the economic support to the show. It worked well enough to get four extra years out of a series that the networks tried to kill from the beginning. I don’t know if we’ll see these characters again in the future. I think the potential for a feature film is huge if fans might be willing to trade those subs for popcorn pledges, who knows? If television and films have taught us anything over the years, it’s “you never say one final mission”.