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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Supernatural > Demonic Possession > Horror > Murder > Drugs > Narcotics > Genocide > Slavery > Cabl > Lucifer: The Complete First Season (2015 - 2016/DC Comics/Vertigo/Warner Blu-ray Set)/Narcos: Season One (2016/Netflix/Gaumont/Lionsgate Blu-ray Set)/Roots (2016 Remake Mini-Series/A&E/History Channel

Lucifer: The Complete First Season (2015 - 2016/DC Comics/Vertigo/Warner Blu-ray Set)/Narcos: Season One (2016/Netflix/Gaumont/Lionsgate Blu-ray Set)/Roots (2016 Remake Mini-Series/A&E/History Channel/Lionsgate Blu-ray Set)

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

Here's the latest round of TV on Blu-ray releases for you to know about...

Lucifer: The Complete First Season (2015 - 2016) is the new Neil Gaiman TV series from DC Comics, Vertigo & Warner Television we just looked at on DVD at this link...


Featuring the same extras, Warner has also issued a Blu-ray set and I have to admit that though it does not improve the show, it really helps with the dark-looking shoot and sonics the DVD left weaker than even I realized. If you have to see the show, go for this set. For tech info, see more below.

After several failed and delayed attempts to tell the story of Pablo Escobar's cocaine empire (a few of which we still look forward to), Narcos: Season One (2016) from Netflix, Gaumont and Lionsgate finally got made and it is not a bad series at all. Told from the point of view of a DEA Agent (Boyd Holbrook) moving to Colombia for the job and offering his Scorsese-like voiceovers throughout (the show even does freeze-frame images for the first few shows until they realize that's too derivative), we get a show that has some good acting, pacing, editing, humor and moments working at its best when melodramatic subplots and originality (i.e., not imitating Scorsese's crime films) kick in.

The other thing that separates this from the bad crime dramas that have followed The Sopranos and Scorsese's films is that it is able to deal with the global political side of things, how the Reagan/Bush years (1980 - 1992) was so hell-bent on fighting Soviet Communism or any other kind of such Marxism, that the U.S. only backs any plans against Escobar (a very convincing Wagner Moura, who captures the restraint side well) or other drug kingpins when even one penny might be funding the USSR, their allies or guerrilla groups. The teleplays could have used more of that, plus we never hear about the Contras for some reason at all here, but that would not have hurt.

I also like how actual archival footage is used and the actors playing the various real life people ARE NOT inserted into said footage, a smart, brave move that works. Some of this is condensed and fictionalized to fit into the storylines, but the series is as good as most of what we have seen on any TV for a while and we'll see if it can get better next season. It is certainly an artistic victory for Netflix.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray discs add three audio commentary tracks on one episode per disc, three Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes (Establishing The Route, The Colombian Connection, The Language Barrier) and Deleted Scenes.

Finally we have the 2016 remake of the TV mini-series classic Roots, now a cable TV mini-series following the family tree as discovered by best-selling author Alex Haley. We recently reviewed the original 1977 original mini-series on Blu-ray here...


as well as 1978 Next Generations sequel mini-series on DVD a while ago here...


The new version is not awful, but the original was so good, clever, honest and focused that many have rightly questioned the wisdom of remaking it. The makers (including original star LeVar Burton) have chosen to try to capture the cycle of these stories (most successful with 12 Years A Slave and Spielberg's Amistad) by making this more violent and graphic (fair enough, since the horror needs to be seen sometimes so we know the truth), but sometimes this backfires by being dark, angry and unrelenting in a way that lands up having us wallow in these things instead of going somewhere with them.

Also, the story has been rewritten to Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, bravely trying an angrier, less joyful take on the man) to take plot twists that loose the original's focus and may be a bit unrealistic to say the least. Acting turns by Laurence Fishburne, Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Forest Whittaker, Derek Luke, Anna Paquin, Mekhi Phifer, James Purefoy and the cast are not bad, but do not have the chemistry or realism of the original show. Still, a little more of this works than expected, but not enough to recommend it very strongly, yet it is done with more effort, power and effort than expected. However, some parts play like an unrealistic revenge western and some other points (I will skip because of spoilers) don't ring true and that's what happens when you loose focus from the original work that was so well structured.

Snoop Dogg rightly-enough complained that he was sick or reliving old history, to boycott the show and that we needed to deal with our problems and issues now, but you have to deal with the past in order to deal with the future. No matter what the myths of youth say, history affects us all, especially this weakest link of the founding and building of the United States through very ugly slavery. The definitive work (or at least the Schindler's List) on this subject has yet to be made, but in another year or two, we might see it. I'll be curious if we see a sequel to this series. Catch it if you are curious and can endure its 6.5 hours.

The only extra here is a Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette called Roots: A History Revealed, but Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices is also available.

All three sets have 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers from their digital HD shoots and each have their moments. I already noted the improvements in Lucifer, Narcos may have its share of vintage analog video footage, but the mostly new footage looks as good as anything here and Roots goes for a visually darker approach than the 1977 filmed mini-series to find its own look. It looks better than the 1977 show on Blu-ray, but that is in part because the 1977 version has a slightly detail-weak transfer, so I do not consider it an accurate way to compare. However, there is no motion blur here and I saw some in other broadcast versions of the various episodes, so that's another plus.

Then we have sound, where all three shows offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on their episodes, all well mixed and presented. However, Roots has some soundfield limits and I wonder if it is location recording or mixing issues, but it is not always up to the quality of the other shows.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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