CSI: Season 2 (second half)

Still one of the most reliable shows I’ve ever seen. There’s really no such thing as a bad episode. There are some unsubtle character moments with the introduction of Grissom having a problem and the Sara/Grissom dynamic, but there’s also some nice subtleties from a team that’s worked together for several years. Stand-outs include a huge bus crash (I’m a sucker for a big disaster), the return of Paul Millander and the CSI Miami pilot. But it really is the overal high quality that makes the set so enjoyable.

DVD Special Features
Disappointing compared to the previous box. The lack of commentaries is really noticeable. The few features on the final disk are decidedly unexciting. The tour of the lab, location discussion and equipment guide are all fairly dull, the making of a hit is the same old stuff. Very similar to the first season stuff, but disappointing after the commentaries. Oh, it still glows in the dark though.


CSI: Season 2 (first half)

Season 2 resumes where the 1st left off, 12 individual episodes and cases, but there’s probably more stand out episodes. Episodes 1 and 2 both feature the whole team working together on the same cases which is always fun to watch. Other stand-outs are Slaves of Las Vegas introducing Lady Heather (who’ll return in season 3) who plays Grissom at his own game, Ellie which gives the ‘youngsters’ the chance to do their thing without the parents, and some nice stuff for Brass. A bit more background stuff on the characters is nice to see, but the cases are still central.

DVD Special Features
Quite a bit more than the 1st season sets. First the box glows in the dark! Nifty! Commentaries on the first episode (Burked) and Ellie have some nice information. The features on the set walk-through (all the equipment is real and theoretically works) and cast (Coroner Doc Robbins really does have a prosthetic leg) are also fun, and the fillers of music video, trailers and the rather funky 3d menu fill it all out nicely.

CSI: Season 1 (second half)

The first season continues and wraps in much the same way it started. There’s a few episodes that focus more on individual characters and how particular crimes effect them, but it’s still all about the case. The series ends with a suitably large episode as they try and get a serial killer, but generally it’s the smaller episodes that are better and more enjoyable to watch as you get to see more of the team interacting and puzzling things out.

DVD Special Features
Again, nothing hugely exciting here. Cast interviews saying the usual stuff. The featurettes are so unmemorable I’ve completely forgotten them.

Six Feet Under: Season 1

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.

CSI: Season 1 (first half)

I think this is possibly one of the best opening seasons I’ve seen. It ‘hits the ground running’ with most of the characters already in place and consistent throughout the series without any back-stepping and changes.
Although the first two episodes centre around an unusual case involving one of the crime lab employees the rest of the episodes are the standard self contained fair with the team sometimes working all together or in various combinations. The characters all bring different elements to the team and to the show, including the background lab techs and coroners office people, Greg the DNA tech in particular has a spectacular ability to steal ANY scene he’s in. The plots are well thought out and pretty hole-less and they don’t always get wrapped up neatly like so many mystery/detective shows always manage.

DVD Special Features
The box itself is nice enough, as standard sleeve around fold out set. The animated 3d menu things are kinda cool, but rapidly get somewhat irritating. The rest of the features are all a little unpolished with the standard stuff being recited by the cast and a superficial featurette.

The West Wing: Season 3

The superlatives just keep going. The campaign for re-election kicks off, the staff are investigated over the President’s condition and whether he deceived the voters and foreign tensions continue to develop. Previous seasons deal heavily with the balance between what the staff want to do, and what they can get through congress and senate, this season adds on the price of re-election making everything even more delicate. The guest cast is superb as ever with some familiar faces returning and new one’s being added in to form new and interesting relationships. Everything that was great about the first two seasons is still there and still great. Many people online seem to indicate this is where the series started going downhill, but personally I don’t see it… I even kinda like Amy!

DVD Special Features
Absolutely no special features at all, made even more offensive by the fact that the booklet is for the Region 1 release so you get told all about the commentaries, making ofs and gag reel. Grr. The 6 dvds come in an epic fold out thingy, which is fine until you’re trying to open it up while balancing a laptop. The change in style means that the box set looks more grown-up (no more red white and blue) but doesn’t match on the shelf. Petty, but irritating.