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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Drama > British TV > Supernatural > Mystery > Murder > Post Apocalyptic > Action > Science Fictio > Being Human: Season Five/Final Season (2012/BBC Blu-ray Set)/Haven: The Complete Third Season (2012/E1 DVD Set)/Revolution: The Complete First Season (2012 – 2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Spartacus: War

Being Human: Season Five/Final Season (2012/BBC Blu-ray Set)/Haven: The Complete Third Season (2012/E1 DVD Set)/Revolution: The Complete First Season (2012 – 2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Spartacus: War Of The Damned - The Complete Third Season (2013/Anchor Bay DVDs)/Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season (2012 – 2013/Warner Blu-rays)/The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fourth Season (2012 – 2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: B-/C/B- & C/C+/B-/B & C     Sound: B-/C+/B & C+/C+/B/B- & C+     Extras: C/C+/C/C+/C/C     Episodes: C/C+/C/C+/C-/C



It is another fall TV season and both the networks and studios issue the previous seasons of their hot TV shows to promote the launch of the new ones, plus first time show’s debuts seasons to see if the series can become larger in a second season.  Here are several such shows…



Being Human: Season Five (2012) is the original British U.K. version of the BBC hit series that also manages to have a U.S. remake series with as much of a following if not more.  For those unfamiliar with the concept of the vampire, werewolf and ghost roommates show, here is our coverage of both series that we have managed:


One Blu-ray



Two & Three Blu-ray



U.S. Two Blu-ray




Not a fan of the original version, I am still not impressed, except that it lasted as long as it did.  These shows are just as flat as those in the debut season and though the actors have grown into their roles, I just never bought their characters.  Everything has been building to these last shows (the BBC is ending this one while they are ahead) and we get an evil government force getting in their way as well.  It is a for-fans-only affair and I was not as lost as I expected, which tells me not much happened in recent shows.  This version, for what it was, peaked early and never found a new way or place to go, which is why perhaps the U.S. version has had a more enthusiastic reception.


Anyone who wants a serious personal analysis of the show should start at the beginning, but both versions ere not big enough hits combined to get that Randall & Hopkirk: Deceased re-revival going… and that is probably a good thing.


Extras include Cast/Crew Interviews, an Exclusive Scene, Alex’s Unfinished Business and Deleted Scenes.



The most pleasant surprise on the list is Haven: The Complete Third Season (2012), based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid, this Canadian production has quietly been a moderate hit on the SyFy Channel and takes place in another one of King’s prototypically nice small towns in the New England mode and involves a guy with superpowers, people who might not be dead when they should, people in the present possibly being people from the past, a murder mystery and now, maybe aliens from outer space.


It all becomes convoluted quickly, and yet, it has its entertaining moments thanks in part to a cast that is good, obviously having fun and keeping the pace of energy going in one of the few post X-Files series of its kind to have any heart or soul whatsoever.  It may not be a great series, but it is interesting and enough so that I will be actually interested in seeing the next season.


Extras includes a graphic novel comic book inside the DVD case, while the DVDs add feature length audio commentary tracks on about half the episodes and the final DVD 4 also has a Blooper Reel, Season Three Trailer, Season Four teaser, Behind The Scenes reel, Escape To Haven Webisode, Cast Interviews, Haven panel from the most recent New York Comic Con, The Haunting Truth About Haven documentary and Deleted/Alternate Scenes.



J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau have teamed up for a new TV series and the result is Revolution: The Complete First Season (2012 – 2013) which is yet another tired post-apocalyptic set-up.  This time, logical or not, all the electricity in the world stops working, even the battery power!  It is not a nuclear explosion (think GoldenEye) or anything supernatural (yet?) but something strange has happened and as a result, authority has collapsed.  Suddenly, everyone has been set back a few centuries and militias are trying to take over.


The pilot was directed by Favreau with more than a few visual references to Michael Anderson’s Logan’s Run (1976, see the Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) and Spike Lee veteran Giancarlo Esposito shows up as the tough military fighting head of one militia up to more than no good in what seems like an empowered African American role, but is a bit angry, bitter and still plays to too many Hollywood stereotypes in the syntactic construction of the teleplays. None of the roles are well developed, which adds more problems.


In the extras, the makers reference the original Twilight Zone and other popular classics, but they miss (on purpose?) similar past TV shows (plus Logan’s Run, film and TV show) that also had post-apocalyptic settings (some episodes of the original Star Trek and Space:1999, plus the conveniently forgotten hit Ark II and underrated 1970s TV series version of Planet Of The Apes) that worked so much better on so many levels than this cynical, dull, flat and uninspired run of a TV show in which Abrams wants to recreate hit Lost success.  The problem is the issues in the first season of that show that eventually sabotaged it from really working in later seasons all happens here very quickly within a few episodes.  The unique brand of Abrams cynicism is getting played out (which is why older Trek fans hated his second new hit Trek film when it did not need to be that way) and the subplots are never convincing.  You can see for yourself, but I wonder how long this show can hold out.


Extras include Ultraviolet Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-capable devices, 5 Webisodes, an in depth look at the Pilot episode, exclusive featurette on the cast at the 2013 PaleyFest, Creating A Revolution Behind The Scenes featurette, Gag Reel and Deleted Scenes.



A few years ago when I saw there would be a TV series called Spartacus, I knew the Stanley Kubrick film would cast a shadow on it somehow, even though it was not Kubrick’s best film or one he really had any real control over.  He took it over at the last minute and despite being a hit, censors edited out footage, only some of which was eventually recovered.  Despite the death of a lead actor to cancer, the Starz Network has had a good run so far with the series and Spartacus: War Of The Damned - The Complete Third Season (2013) has finally arrived on home video.


With the title changes along with cast changes, here are links to our coverage of the previous seasons, including a smaller release that was seen as a Third Season piece:


Blood & Sand: Season One Blu-ray



Gods Of The Arena: Season Two Blu-ray



Vengeance Blu-ray



Picking up here, you do not necessarily need to see the previous episodes, but it helps understand the more intricate sides of what are involved goings on.  At this point, Marcus Licinius Crassus (Simon Merrells good in the role held by Lawrence Olivier in the Kubrick version) is the next hope of keeping the Roman Empire alive as our title hero (Liam McIntyre) is more determined than ever to bring down the evil empire that has created so much unnecessary bloodshed.


While the acting is good, writing not bad and sets decent, the monochrome, slow motion style (by way of Zack Snyder’s long played out 300) makes the battle scenes a joke and we get far too much digital enhancement to boot.  I know some budget restrictions (including HBO’s Rome) were inevitable since even cable networks only have so much money for budgets, but the good parts, what is realistic and works has a very hard time cutting through the plasticity of this approach.  It is still one of the better shows on this list, but by only so much.  Not bad, bit not for everyone.


Extras in this DigiPak with a transparent slipcase that has the title repeated on the front top includes Making Of featurettes.



Of al the shows, I cannot believe we have Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season (2012 – 2013) and that this has been as long-running as it has been, but at this point, even the actors look like they are about to fall asleep and it is truly a zombie show without zombies… well at least not all the time.


We have covered most of the series, including the following seasons in both formats at these links:


One Blu-ray



Two Blu-ray





Three Blu-ray





Four Blu-ray + DVD



Five Blu-ray + DVD



Brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) is back from hell (no comment), the Leviathan Threat (they did not threaten to remake the bad Abyss clone?) is over and brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) Winchester is determined to help him close The Gates of Hell (you can’t make this stuff up) forever), even if it means letting the show go on and on.  This might make sense in the logic of the show and, to make the understatement of this review, a fans-only affair, but it is just plain awful and if the show were not a moderate CW Network hit with a following, they would have pulled the plug on this one a long time ago.


Do not operate heavy or dangerous equipment when playing!


Extras include Ultraviolet Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-capable devices and a paper foldout episode guide for all 22 episodes, while the Blu-rays add three episode audio commentary tracks, three Behind The Scenes featurettes, Unaired Scenes and a Gag Reel.



Finally we have the ever-silly The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fourth Season (2012 – 2013) with a series my fellow writer was at least somewhat happy with when watching its First Season at this link:




Either way, whatever the show had going for it has played itself out as well (it was never as annoying as Supernatural, though) as the voiceovers have become too silly to be taken seriously, the situations (damn vampires in senior year!) so much nighttime soap opera that vampire hunters show up (don’t fool with their schools!?!) and all played so seriously, it is campy enough to warrant MST3K treatment.


All the actors look like they are ready for modeling or modeling school (including the guys with more make-up and favorable lighting than usual, so you know this is a show aimed at a female audience) leaving the supernatural elements secondary, ineffective and over 23 episodes, a real run on.  Again, for fans only, but we’ve seen it all before and it all makes Dynasty look like Mad Men.


Extras include Ultraviolet Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-capable devices, five Making Of featurettes, Fan Gallery Artwork Unaired Scenes, A Fan Video and Second Bite: Gag Reel.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Vampire Diaries is easily the visual champ with the best playback performance on the list with only minor stylistics getting in the way.  That makes it more watchable than its material would allow.  Being Human, Revolution and Supernatural tie for second place with less defined images throughout (the styling and digital work degrade the frames more and more often), while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 Revolution DVD is so weak that it joins Haven (which we believe would look much better on Blu-ray) and the DVD version of Vampire Diaries as the poorest performers on the list, looking too soft for their own good.  That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Spartacus the best DVD presentation here, not as good as any of the Blu-rays, but one that would obviously look better on Blu-ray despite severe styling choices.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Revolution and Supernatural Blu-rays tie for the best sonic presentations here with very well recorded sound effects and dialogue, which are integrated very well in the soundfield.  The same mixes on Being Human and Vampire Diaries are a little more towards the front speakers as well as sometimes quieter than expected.  That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on Haven, Revolution, Spartacus and Vampire Diaries DVDs not bad, but tying for last place.  Of course, Haven and Spartacus would likely benefit from lossless presentations on Blu-ray.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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