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The Complete First Season
Rating: TV 14 (Dialogue, Language, Sex, Violence)
Running Time: 988 minutes
Starring: Dave Annable, Keriis Lilla Dorsey, Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Balthazar Getty, Rachel Griffiths, Sarah Jane Morris, John Pyper Ferguson, Matthew Rhys, Ron Rifkin, Emily VanCamp, Patricia Wettig
Retail Price: $59.99
Features: Audio Commentaries, Creating The Walker Family Tree, Behind The Scenes With The Brothers, The Family Business, Deleted Episode, Bloopers and Outtakes
Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scenes (8 per episode), Six-Disc Set
Released: September 18th, 2007
All the episodes of this first season are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and look pretty outstanding. Fleshtones look quite right, detail is pretty good and color saturation and hues hit their marks to make a pleasing and sharp image. Still, some scenes do appear on the grainy side, and there is shimmering, edge halos and noise. Those flaws are noticeable, but they aren't too distracting. No one should have any problems with these transfers.
Every episode also features a English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, all of which fit the tone of the series quite well. Fidelity is pretty high and there isn't much subwoofer use, but the tracks have a good balance of all the elements: dialogue is very crisp and easy to hear, and the sound effects come out as strong and often discrete, making you feel like you're in the room with the Walker clan. The music too, be it the songs or original music cues, also come out with a bit of power and with a freshness. The sound elements don't overpower another too, which is nice. Like the look of the episodes, nobody should have problems with the sound mixes for this series.
Every episode has subtitles available in English, French and Spanish.
There are Audio Commentaries galore on this set. "Affairs Of State" features Jon Robin Baitz, Craig Wright, Patricia Wettig and Matthew Rhys; "Northern Exposure" features Jon Robin Baitz, David Marshall Grant and Molly Newman; "The Other Walker" features Alison Schapker, Monica Breen, Marc Guggenheim, Dave Annable and Emily VanCamp; and "Matriarchy" has Ken Olin, Sarah Caplan and Balthazar Getty. All these commentaries are a mix of actors, writers and sometimes producers-directors. It's nice that there's a different mix to each episode with a commentary, so you do get to hear from different people and thus different perspectives. Truthfully though, I think these commentaries will only appear to the most devoted viewers of the show. Much of the comments on all the tracks are a lot of joking, and a lot of complimenting other actors and crew members - there's a lot of casual comments that really don't give much insight into things. Out of the four tracks though, I think "The Other Walker" one is best. Yes, there is joking on that one, but there are more substantial production stories to be had, and I found it interesting to hear from writers Alison Schapker and Monica Breen, and get some of their thoughts on the writing for the show.
The sixth disc houses the rest of the extras. Creating The Walker Family Tree runs nearly a half-hour, and is an engrossing look at the origins of the series. Creator Jon Robin Baitz talks about his inspirations for the show, and how he envisioned some elements and characters and how they evolved. Writers Greg Berlanti, Molly Newman, Marc Guggeneheim, Sherri Cooper-Landsman, David Marshall Grant, Monica Breen, Alison Schapkler, and Michael Morris, Cliff Olin, Peter Calloway talk about their visions for the show and their favorite moments of writing, and Ken Olin discusses the importance of his role on the series' pilot. Most intriguing is how the writing of the series is structured, namely that the "teams" of writers are put together to write episodes. There's also a lot on the cast, and their actual casting and strengths, and other cast members and crew giving them praise. This is the best feature on the DVD set, and a very strong look at the making of the series.
Behind The Scenes With Brothers runs a bit over six minutes, and focuses on the actors Matthew Rhys, Dave Annable and Balthazar Getty - and how they basically formed strong bonds outside the TV show. The featurette basically has the three joking around on the set's various departments, such as craft services and make-up and wardrobe. It's not in-depth, but you still sorta get a look on how various parts of the show are brought together. Pretty cute.
The Family Business lasts a little over four-and-a-half minutes, and focuses on the Olin family: actress Patricia Wettig, her husband Ken Olin who produces the show and directs episode, her daughter who had a role and who's son is a writer. This is a pretty fun little piece about the real-life family dynamics on the show, and gives a glimpse at Ken Olin as a director, Cliff Olin as a writer, and Patricia and her daughter as actresses. The cast and some of the crew also talks about what it's like working with the family. Again, a fun watch.
There's also a Deleted Episode entitled "State Of The Parties," introduced by show creator/executive producer Jon Robin Baitz. This is a fully formed episode that was originally going to be the second episode of the series, but Baitz felt it slowed down the series' momentum. Still, it's here for you to enjoy, and should give viewers more insight into the Walker clan. And it's in anamorphic widescreen to boot.
Finally, there's a Bloopers and Outtakes reel that lasts two-and-a-half minutes, which has a few choice chuckles.
"Brothers and Sisters" is an enjoyable family drama, and is elevated even further by an outstanding cast of talented and proven actors. The DVD set for the first season hits all the right marks: great anamorphic widescreen transfers of the episode, pleasing 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes and a good amount of extras that touch on the show's development as well as its themes of family. If you're a fan of the series, this is a solid investment.