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The Complete Series
Rating: TV 14 (Dialogue, Language, Sex, Violence)
Running Time: 1024 minutes
Starring: Barry Watson, Matthew Davis, Sarah Lancaster, Rick Gomez, Amanda Detmer, Raoul Bova and Rosanna Arquette
Retail Price: $59.99
Features: Audio Commentaries with Creator/Writer Dana Stevens, Unaired Episode, Calling All Friends: The Story Of "What About Brian," What About 3: The Season That Never Was
Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scenes (8 per episode), Five-Disc Set
Released: September 25th, 2007
All the episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and look very nice. I'll get the flaws out of the way first: there's a decent amount of noise, and too many edge halos for my liking. Also, some scenes come off as a bit grainy. Other than that though, there's a lot to like here: accurate fleshtones, color saturation that is pretty bouncy and well-balanced, and a strong amaount of detail. The episodes look mighty sharp for the most part, and are pleasing to the eye. Well done.
All the episodes have English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Since this is a dialogue heavy show, as you'd expect a lot of the tracks' power comes from the characters talking. With that said, dialogue is pretty crisp and easy to hear. There isn't much subwoofer use, but fidelity is pretty high and overall dyanmics are decent. When there are sound effects, they sound pretty good and sometimes use the rears - but they aren't always discrete. The music in the show does sound well and are mixed sublimely through the channels - be it the original compositions or songs used. In all, what you get here fits appropriately.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.
The set begins and ends with two Audio Commentaries by creator/writer Dana Stevens: one for the pilot, and the other for the last episode that aired, "What About Calling All Friends." These are great tracks that explain the dynamics of the show, and also offer a ton of production details. Stevens notes that the pilot was basically shot three times, and that her executive producer - the wunderkind J.J. Abrams - wasn't initally available to give input, since he was off shooting "Mission: Impossible 3." Only once he was done shooting, did Abrams really give input and the series then on came together a bit more. Stevens points out the mixing-and-matching of scenes from the pilots that ultimately made the final first episode.
As far as the last episode, Stevens discusses condensing the final season, since ABC ended up ordering 19 episodes and she and her showrunner originally planned 22. Thus, Stevens had to "accelerate" some developments. She also discusses what it was like to shoot what would be the final episode of the series. Stevens doesn't offer dead spots in these tracks, and seems pretty proud of her work. These are excellent, nuanced tracks for both casual fans and major fans of the series.
The fifth disc houses the video-based extras. First up is a nice treat for fans of the series, an Unaired Episode entitled "What Happens In Vegas." Series creator and writer-producer Dana Stevens introduces the episode, and where it fits into the series' structure. I'm sure fans will be pleased about this inclusion. The episode does have a 5.1 mix and anamorphic transfer, but I have to say the transfer doesn't look as good as the rest of the series.
Calling All Friends: The Story Of "What About Brian" is a nice 13 minute look that sums up what the show is all about. Show creator Dana Stevens is the main star here, as she talks about the series she wanted to make and what themes interested her: namely, marriages and relationships. There's bits on where she and the writers took their inspirations from, and also memorable moments from the series. Stevens talks a bit about the show's production design as well, and the central cast is shown joking around and also giving their thoughts on the series. It's all bookended by footage of the cast and crew bonding (aww). This is a pleasant watch.
Finally, there's the three-and-a-half minute What About 3: The Season That Never Was. Dana Stevens is upfront about what probably would have happened in the third season, and there's a lot of juicy nuggets here (in addition to some cast chiming in a few things). Too bad it never got filmed.
"What About Brian" is a lovely show that has a great focus that we all can relate to: the complexities of romantic relationships and friendships, and all the drama in-between. This set of the entire series is sure to please the show's original audience with good transfers and 5.1 mixes, plus a few nice supplements. It's too bad the show didn't live on longer, but hopefully the show will get an even bigger audience on DVD. If you missed it the first time out (like I did), and you like a smart show about relationships, be sure to check it out.