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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Action > Adventure > Espionage > Drama > British TV > Biography > Teens > Cable TV > The Equalizer – Season One (1985/Umbrella Region 4 PAL DVD Import Set) + Lark Rise To Candleford – The Complete Series (BBC DVD Set) + Life Unexpected – The Complete First & Second Seasons (Warner DVD

The Equalizer – Season One (1985/Umbrella Region 4 PAL DVD Import Set) + Lark Rise To Candleford – The Complete Series (BBC DVD Set) + Life Unexpected – The Complete First & Second Seasons (Warner DVD Set) + Treme – The Complete First Season (2010/HBO Blu-ray Set)


Picture: C+/C/C/B     Sound: C+ (Treme: B)     Extras: C/C+/D/B     Episodes: B/C+/D/B


PLEASE NOTE: The import PAL DVD set version of The Equalizer covered here can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Four/4 PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



And now for a look at the latest TV releases, old and new, including some revisits and we start with two of them.


First is The Equalizer – Season One, the hit Edward Woodward spy series with a difference that Universal made in 1985, centering on the semi-retired McCall.  He is trying to get his life back together again, trying to make up for his dark past by helping people in real jeopardy who cannot help themselves by reaching out to them for free and still getting involved in then-current spy cases when nudged on by Control (Robert Lansing).  This is the new Umbrella Region 4 DVD Import edition, but we cove red the original U.S. Region 1 DVD from Universal at this link:





This is virtually the same set with almost the same cover art, extras and transfers, though there is some detail here not on the U.S. edition and the same audio.  With the show still potentially being remade as a feature film with Russell Crowe, there should be even newer interest in the show, so it is good the series is getting around.  However, if you are a fan, you should see it now.


After four long seasons, Lark Rise To Candleford – The Complete Series has arrived on DVD and the makers (including the BBC) have ended things while they were ahead.  As expected, Season One (which we are seeing for the first time since covering the show) is slightly better than the follow-ups, then the show about the people of late 19th Lark Rise continued and we did cover the next seasons here:








Season Four is new as is issued at the same time in this set and separately, making this a 14-DVD set!  You might want to see the first set before plunging into getting this box, but fans will be happy with it and even the final season runs on a bit, but at least it wraps it up in a logical way, even if it can be melodramatic and predictable.  Now you can see for yourself.  Picture and sound are the same as I saw in the Second Season and the only new extra to us is the Making Of featurette on the First Season.



Easily the worst show here is Life Unexpected – The Complete First & Second Seasons (we needed two at the same time to get started?) which comes from Warner and it is one of those teen melodramas that tries way too hard to be hip.  The characters are cardboard cutouts, the scripts are cover-to-cover with situations that are as boring as the dialogue is idiotic, as condescending and dumb as pathetic in a no-one-talks-like-this set-up that is outright embarrassing and the final nail in the coffin of this ultra-horrid show.  There is nothing and no one to like here, this 6-DVD torture test delivers 26 mind-numbing episodes and the only reason this has not been cancelled is because it is on the CW Network.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is very soft throughout all the shows and bad shot throughout, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are really pushing it by spreading around the stereo sound thinly and sticking dialogue too much into the center channel.  Extras include a superfluous Gag Reel and two tired Making Of featurettes.


Fortunately, there is a new show from the creators of The Wire.  Treme – The Complete First Season (2010) is a smart new series set in a New Orleans rebuilding in this impressive series that has multiple storylines about several life situations going while also showing how great the city is and also being very cleaver in showing the vital importance of the music and food that has come out of there.


The ten strong episodes introduce us to several parties while giving us a default tour of New Orleans in sometimes profound ways and its stars include Melissa Leo, Steve Zahn, John Goodman, Khandi Alexander, Rob Brown, Wendell Pierce, Clarke Peters and a solid all-around cast.  Watch the first episode and you’ll see what I mean.  I hope this finds a larger audience, but once again, it shows how serious HBO is about delivering top-rate TV.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image looks good on all the episodes, with good color, detail, depth and richness that is up there with the best TV on Blu-ray today.  Even with some styling at times, the presentation is not hurt and it puts many feature film releases to shame.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes on the episodes is also well recorded and mixed with fine soundfields throughout.  Even if they are not always demo material, they are warm, consistent and even rich.


Extras are music commentary tracks, audio commentary tracks, a Making Of featurette and Treme: Beyond Bourbon Street featurette, plus the Blu-ray exclusive Music Of Treme and Down In The Treme: A Look At The Music & Culture Of New Orleans featurettes.  The result are top rate extras for a top rate show worth going out of your way for.



As noted above, unless you want the U.S. Region One DVD set already available, you can order The Equalizer PAL DVD import set exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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