I bought this box set on a whim after various people commented it was cool. I sat down to watch a couple of episodes and didn’t stop until 4 in the morning when I ran out of episodes. I think the series actually works much better watched in large chunks then weekly, the flow is much better.
The season starts at the beginning of a new phase in the various characters’ lives as their father dies in the pilot, leaving the two sons to run the business and his wife by herself for the first real time. The daughter serves as a “look how dysfunctional these people are” reference throughout and there’s a weird girlfriend and her even more dysfunctional family thrown in for good measure. The ongoing stories of Nate’s realisation of his role in the business, David coming out, Ruth flitting between men and Claire finding her inner weirdo form the arc around the ‘corpse of the week’.
The series is definitely weird, on the surface it is slow with very little actually happening in most episodes. But the show is character driven and these guys are weird enough to carry it through well. The americanisms can be a little weird (many of the episodes are centred around the viewings of the bodies at the funeral home) but kinda intriguing. While the show appears to be about death, it is in fact about life with death just being the kinda cut off point. Wow, wasn’t that deep? Definitely not one to watch with the parents by the way ;0)
DVD Special Features
The box itself is lovely! It’s made of that slightly furry stuff with embossed bits on it, and when you open it it hinges at the top and lifts out the envelope with the dvds on it. Possibly the most beautiful box set I’ve ever seen. Ok so it’s just cardboard folded to hinge and lift the centre section, but damnit I thought it was nifty.
There’s 4 discs overall with 13 episodes each of which lasts over 50 minutes. There’s commentaries on the first and last episodes from the series creator/writer/director Alan Bell (of American Beauty fame) which are very interesting. The 15 minute featurette on the title sequence is a little excessive (although the titles are very cool) but the cast one has some nice bits on it. It’s good that the episodes have had the “previously” and “next on SFU” cut off so you can chose to watch them if you want, but they still lack the “view all” option which would save on clicking through menus. The menus are atmospheric and fit really well with the theme. Oh, it would have been nice if the envelope/box containing hte dvds had a brief episode synopsis beyond the title so you can find a specific episode more easily.