Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Grey's Anatomy: Season Five Blu-ray Review (Mexico Version)

Blu-ray Discs: 7
Show Rating: TV-14
Region: A
The Video
Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five brings all 24 episodes to Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations. Like the previous season, this season is also on the softer side. The show has always had this specific look and is presented accurately on Blu-ray.

This season is slightly sharper than Season Four was on Blu-ray and just looks better all around. I also notice certain episodes vary on who directed specific episodes. We can go from one episode which feels much more in focus and then the next which is noticeable softer.

Regardless of how sharp or soft each episode is, they all look very good in high-definition. Colors are rich and very appealing, while the black levels remain inky as can be. I think the show just pops in high-definition and I definitely don’t think they could have looked better on Blu-ray.

The high-def encodes of these episode are very healthy and free of any technical issues. Fans of the series will be just as pleased if not more with the fifth season on Blu-ray. For a film that does not take place on a tropical island, it still manages to look very good. 8.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for each episode. The release also includes French DTS audio, but that is it as far as language options. Optional subtitles included are English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

Like the previous season, not much happens in the surround speakers. Despite the show being a medical drama, very few moments call for aggressive surround use. Each episode has new patients, but most are not rushed in and feature a great deal of alarm.

The show is very dialogue driven and in that aspect is presented as crisp and clear as can be. There is never a time where you will have an issue understanding what is being said, it’s just too clear to miss. The film’s music definitely expands from time to time and makes good use of the surround speakers.

Most audio effects are front heavy, but we do get some surround use thrown in quite often. The issue is the show itself does not lend itself well to a surround sound mix. Yes, surround use could have been used a bit more, but for a television program this is not bad at all. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:

SeasonPlay (This feature is included on all discs)
Tracks where you are as you watch Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five episodes across all discs. It will save and store where you left off when turned on, and will stop tracking your progress and auto-playing episodes when turned off.

Grey’s Anatomy Starter Kit (4:45) (HD)
This is an overall recap of the show and its characters for those new to the show.

Disc 7:

100th Episode: Tales From The O.R. (18:32) (HD)
This is a behind-the-scenes featurette revealing the inner workings of Grey’s Anatomy’s success.

Heaven Sent (9:29) (HD)
This is a conversation with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Producers about the character Denny Duquette.

Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy: Unaired Scenes (17:03) (HD)
There are 14 deleted scenes included, with optional audio commentary by creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes and Executive Producer Betsy Beers.

In Stitches: Season Five Outtakes (4:06) (HD)
This is a collection of outtakes straight from the cutting-room floor.

At first I was underwhelmed by the amount of extras included. There really is not much to see to be honest, but some are very enjoyable. SeasonPlay is a nice feature for those who hate remembering where you left off and is available on all discs with episodes. Disc One also includes a good starter kit for those new to the show and those who would like an overall recap of the hospital and its characters.

The 100th Episode featurette is my favorite and features plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, and is the most in-depth I have seen from the show features-wise. There are also plenty of deleted scenes and outtakes to be seen. Overall this is not a bad supplements package, but I definitely crave a bit more. 6/10.

The Season
It’s the fifth season at Seattle Grace Hospital and everyone from the last season is back, including a couple of new characters. This season we also say goodbye to Erica Hahn (played by Brooke Smith), who just became a series regular in Season Four.

The episodes this season are definitely great, there are a few dull ones in the mix, but most are very good. Season Five is also a great time to start the show, not everything will make sense right away, but you will quickly understand it all.

I’ve loved how some of the new characters from the last season have developed and stay strong this season, quickly catching up in likability with the original cast. This season we also have a few very enjoyable guest stars as patients.

Okay so let’s talk about the character Erica Hahn (played by Brooke Smith), the character just became a series regular last season and has been doing a top notch job. Her character is extremely likeable and fits in well with the rest of the cast. It was really great to see a lesbian character on the show as a regular.

The biggest issue I had this season was when ABC and the writers at Grey’s Anatomy decided to give Brooke Smith and her character the boot from the show. Despite their claims that they did not fire her due to wanting to get rid of the lesbian character, many changes do show otherwise. There was another actress set to join the show as a bisexual character, but that did not happen.

Brooke Smith did an interview with Michael Ausselio and said: “I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship. And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV. And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn't write for my character anymore. [...] I was floored when they told me [I was being let go]. It was the last thing I expected. In fact, when they told me I asked, "When is this happening?" And they said, "The [next episode] is your last," which is the one that airs this Thursday. So it was very sudden.”

If cutting her was not enough, they could have at least given her character a decent farewell. All we really get is her walking to her car, and then bye, he’s gone. We learn in later episodes that she is not returning to the hospital, what a dumb way to sign her out.

Despite the controversy which I’m sure upset many and pleased others, I think this season is among the best seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I was very upset they cut Erica Hahn as a character and due to no fault of the actress. Regardless fellow cast members were upset by the move as well, but they have to move on and keep working.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five brings a lot of good and a lot of bad to the show, but the writing this season is very good and definitely enjoyable. The finale this season is terrific and will leave you very excited for season six, which I hope to see release on Blu-ray at least in some part of the world if not the U.S.

Despite the flaws, this season is certainly easier to appreciate than the past two. The quality of the writing has definitely improved and the overall story progresses very nicely. There is a lot that happens and I won’t take the time to ruin it for you. 8.5/10.

Blu-news Summary
Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five was announced for DVD and Blu-ray release last year, something that was definitely expected as Season Four received a U.S. Blu-ray release the year before. Unfortunately something changed and Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five was canceled for U.S. Blu-ray release, but the DVD released as planned.

I expected low sales of the previous season to be the case, but can’t comment with certainty. The release may have not come out in the U.S., but it did receive a Blu-ray release in other countries, surprisingly enough.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five on Blu-ray is region locked to whichever region it is released in, which is why I imported the season from Mexico. Mexico shares the same Blu-ray region code as the U.S. and is compatible with all U.S. Blu-ray players.

When I received my 7-disc set from Mexico, I was surprised to find that the discs themselves are completely in English, including the disc art. It was very clear to me that these discs are the exact same discs which were supposed to release in the U.S., featuring only the U.S. rating logos etc.

The disc menus are also only available in English, and there is not a Spanish audio dub to be found, only optional Spanish subtitles (among others). Everything about these discs and content are the exact same as what was scheduled for U.S. release and it’s all in English.

The cover art and slip cover for the Blu-ray release are in Spanish, but ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is also called ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in Mexico as well, so the differences in language are hard to notice on a shelf, it really will look like a U.S. release aside from the smaller text on the art which is Spanish.

It’s a shame that this 7-disc season did not make it to Blu-ray domestically, but hopefully we will see a U.S. release in the future. I am at least hoping ABC/Disney will release Season Six on Blu-ray when the time comes.

This was a very strong season aside from a couple of upsets. The Blu-ray release is great, featuring strong video and audio mixes. Extras are also quite satisfying. Season Five on Blu-ray is easily ‘Recommended’ to all.

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