Damages Season 1 Blu-ray Review
PictureDamages comes to Blu-ray presented with a glorious 1080p High Definition video rendition in the series' original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.75:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, a sharpness exhibited as much during the close-up facial shots as during the longer landscape or crowd sequences. There is very little softness indeed, a hint of edge enhancement and negligible grain, except of course for during the flashback sequences, which populate the episodes right from the get-go. Here there is much more of a Tony Scott MTV approach, where over-saturation showcases heavy grain and noise, although all of it is clearly intentional. The colour palette (other than during the rich, over-stylised flashbacks) is realistic throughout, from the posh law offices to the Hamptons mansions and the New York City streets, and blacks are solid throughout, allowing for decent shadowing and night-time sequences. Overall it is a splendid effort, particularly for a small-screen show.
SoundTo accompany the series on Blu-ray, Sony have pulled out all of the stops to provide us with a Dolby TrueHD track, which makes the show stand out above most other TV series' on Blu-ray. Sure, it doesn't quite have the punch and bombast of a Hollywood movie, or even shows like 24, but it's a good effort, presented in the best possible format. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, from the mischievous whispers to Glenn Close barking orders. Effects are surprisingly frequent, particularly with the prevalence of the dramatic flashback (flash-forward) sequences, and we get a few crashes, gunshots and body blows across the episodes, and all of the ambient atmospheric work gets good treatment as well, and even a little dynamism across the array. The scoring is also fairly dramatic and punchy, cranking up the tension wherever necessary. For a TV show, this is a superior effort.
ExtrasWillful Acts: The Making of Damages. Here we get a nice, if a little quick-fire, Featurette that takes 23 minutes to provides us with Interviews with the main cast, including Glenn Close, Ted Danson and Rose Byrne talking about their lead roles, plenty of behind the scenes footage of the episodes being filmed, some insight into characters and the story arc, but little depth on the whole.
Trust No One: Insight from the Creators takes a little over twelve minutes to hear more from the creators about their creation. Again we get a few too many final episode clips, interspersed by mere sound-bites, but eventually we get into the meat of the story, looking at the big case at the centre of it all. The best moment is when they discuss the major plot moments that they always had in mind. Still, I think perhaps commentaries on a couple of the episodes would have felt more substantial than these Featurette (as were provided on the US release) although they're certainly far better than nothing.
Understanding Class Action is a three-stage Interactive Guide, split into Terms, Basics and Class Action Cases. Within each of these branches, we have various sub-sections, so in Terms, we get Class Action Lawsuits, Numerosity, Tort Law, Compensatory Damages vs. Punitive Damages and Criminal vs. Civil Trials, and for each of these we get various Legal Personnel talking about the relevant subjects. There are also brief clips from the specific moments in the show itself that relate to the topic. Under Basics, we get Types of Class Action Lawsuits, Certification, Notice of Class Action, Joining a Class Action, Opting Out and Suing the Government, and under Class Action Cases we get three big ones: Agent Orange, Tobacco and Exxon Valdez. Although I found this particular Extra personally quite interesting because of my profession, there's a lot of informative stuff here, some of which is historically intriguing, and it is all tied in nicely to the series itself, so this comes as something of a gem.
Finally we get a bunch of Previews for Upcoming Blu-ray releases, including The Jane Austen Book Club and Across the Universe, as well as the Ultimate Edition of Close Encounters.
VerdictDamages is quite an unusual legal vehicle - a Class Action lawsuit followed across an entire (albeit short) TV season. Packed with drama, backstabbing and Machiavellian machinations, it is thoroughly engaging and, for the Home Cinema audience, it may be so compelling that you just have to watch it back-to-back across the course of a few days. The Blu-ray presentation here is spectacular, with a superb video rendition and a surprisingly good audio track, as well as a few nice extras to round off the disc. Recommended viewing, and I personally can't wait for them to get their act together and provide us with the next season.
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