Heart-warming and heart-breaking – often in the same scene
Orange is the New Black Blu-ray Review
Heart-warming and heart-breaking – often in the same scene; Orange is the New Black takes an unconventional setting and produces a comedy drama of simple enjoyment.The series takes its inspiration from the true experiences of Piper Kerman who was indicted and incarcerated and who wrote about it. Acclaimed writer/producer Jenji Kohan, with her slightly stilted look on things makes light of and delves deep into the lives of women who are imprisoned for a variety of crimes as well as the culture, routines and relationships that develop within the confines of prison. Billed as a comedy, and there are genuine laugh out loud moments, where it really wins is with its critical and sarcastic look at the lives of these women and what put them there. The lead is played by Taylor Schilling who gives an excellent performance as a woman of means completely out of her comfort zone.The first episode concentrates on her first day and the situations that lead to it. Using flashbacks running alongside current situations the show uses elements from the past to highlight predicaments happening now. Each episode uses the same format showing that youth leads to experience and experience allows growth. What makes the series even more absorbing is that this is not limited to the main protagonist. This is not a comedy with serious elements rather a drama with comedic elements; getting comedy out of the situations and ramifications that make up the daily life of an inmate. It does not make light of crime, but rather the absurdity of a judicial system that can lock someone up for accidently reversing over a mail man for longer than repeat offenders on a drugs charge.
What is Orange is the New Black Blu-ray Picture Quality
The discs present a broadcast correct 1.78:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and are Region locked to B.
Shot digitally there is very little to complain about, with only the stylistic choices and drab setting to infer any issues with the picture. Detail is sharp and to the point with skin texture and clothing weaves showing up every nook and cranny. The grim of the prison cells, or the ‘cleanliness’ of the kitchens contrast wildly with those scene set outside which are brighter and bolder; though the level of detail and depth remain the same.
Shot digitally there is very little to complain about.Colours are bold and strong, but shy away from vibrancy for the majority of the show, that being set in the prison and only reach a level of vividness in outside scenes, where reds, greens and blues shine to give a strong contrast to those set inside. The prison is dominated by earthy greys and beiges but all grade excellently. Flesh tones are suitably natural looking as well.
Contrast and brightness are set to give strong blacks, but due to the claustrophobic nature of the framing there is little depth to the picture, though there is a reasonable amount of punch given the depth of black available. Shadow detail is reasonable which helps but the stylistic nature of the piece does tend to shorten the frame, but this is nothing to do with the transfer.
Digitally there are no compression issues, edge enhancement, smearing, posterization or aliasing, making this another top TV picture.
How Does Orange is the New Black Blu-ray Sound
Just the one track to choose from: English dts-HD MA 5.1 surround. You might think the setting would preclude any significant surround environment, but you’d be wrong; the surround speakers are used throughout to add plenty of ambience that scarily puts you in the centre of the prison; whether that’s general hubbub of voices or footfalls, or the more specific kitchen clatter in the food hall. Scenes set outside the prison also benefit from the surround ambience be it wind, sea, street or tree. Dialogue is very natural sounding, dominated by the frontal array but given directionality when needed. There is a good dynamic range and bass is very well integrated into the mix, though don’t go looking for subsonic LF effects, it’s not that type of show, it’s used to fill out the bottom end and give everything a sense of reality – which it does in spades. Very little to fault here either.
Orange is the New Black Blu-ray Extras
Audio Commentaries – On two episodes, the season opener (I Wasn't Ready) and closer (Can’t Fix Crazy) with producers Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann and Mark Burley, who explain a little about how the series came about the source novel, characters, casting, sets etc. It’s a pretty informal chat track but also a little bit dry in places.
New Kid on the Cell Block featurette (6:55) – Standard EPK fare made slightly more interesting by having the real Piper Kerman as one of the interviewees.
It's Tribal featurette (7:36) – a brief but nevertheless entertaining look at the various ‘cliques and societies’ that make up the prison population.
Mother Hen: Red Runs the Coop featurette (6:35) – Examination of Kate Mulgrew’s formidable character.
Prison Rules featurette (7:42) – Another brief feature with cast and crew interviews looking at the regulations of prison life.
Gag Reel (6:34) – Merriment from mistakes or otherwise.
Is Orange is the New Black Blu-ray Worth Buying
Orange is the New Black is a fictional retelling of the true life experiences of Piper Kerman taken from her book of the same name. Brought to the screen by the makers of the acclaimed TV show Weeds and as a Netflix own made production, the show has already gained a strong following by being both heart-breaking and heart-warming often in the same scene. Telling the story of Piper Chapman who while engaged to be married is sentenced to fifteen months in prison for a near forgotten crime years in her past, and how she adapted, survived and lived as an inmate making friends, enemies and working with the rigours of a life far beyond anything she has ever experienced before. Filmed with attention to detail and with a cast on their very best form, the thirteen episodes of the first season are a joy to watch as we become embroiled in life behind bars where the rules are very different to ‘normal’ society. With frequent nudity, swearing and situations that would make a pirate blush, the show pulls no punches and remains riveting right up until the final scene.
With frequent nudity, swearing and situations that would make a pirate blush, the show pulls no punches
Lionsgate's package is pretty good, all the episodes have a well detailed and boldly coloured picture with a surround track that places you well in the centre of a prison cell. The extra features are a little light and don’t count for too much, but they at least give a flavour of what the series is about. Unexpected and enjoyable; a recommendation from me.
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