Boss Season One, Hatfields & McCoys, Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One
Boss Season One (Lionsgate)
Other series I could name swing for the fences with heavy, heavy plotlines that wind up feeling maudlin and trite. Boss however soars despite the weight of its content largely because of the stellar, well-utilized cast, at its core the magnificent Kelsey Grammer as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane. His is a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense reign over a dirty city that invites controversy, but a grateful populace chooses to keep him exactly where he is. Like the great antiheroes of premium cable dramas before him, Kane is often a tough guy to like, although his charisma earns him a lot of slack. But a severe, recently diagnosed brain disorder threatens all he has, and forces him to reevaluate his life across these eight first-season installments.
Lionsgate's two-disc set affords us the opportunity to cram before the sophomore season of the strangely underappreciated Boss premieres imminently on Starz. The bonus featurette with Grammer and series creator Farhad Safinia is recommended, and multiple creator audio commentaries are provided as well.
Hatfields & McCoys (Sony)
Oscar-winner Kevin Costner transitions to the small screen, re-teaming with his one-time go-to director Kevin Reynolds, ostensibly ending their own post-Waterworld feud for this tale of the legendary rivalry between two extended clans. The five hours of this History Channel miniseries illuminate the little-known facts behind the tensions which threatened to swell into another American Civil War, born from a perfect storm of misunderstanding, murder and forbidden love. It's a sad but fascinating chapter from our nation's past.
A phenomenal ratings success for History, Hatfields includes here a "making of" and a music video for the song "I Know These Hills" by Costner (also a producer) and his band, Modern West. Worth noting is that, as per the "Original Uncut Version" sticker on the frond of the box, this edition is uncensored, unlike some of the repeat showings, which were trimmed.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One (CBS/Paramount)
Unprecedented quantities of time, talent and money went into remastering the beloved sci-fi redux from the original film elements for its auspicious Blu-ray debut, teased earlier this year on a single preview disc. And the upgrade is obvious in virtually every scene: In contrast to the notoriously under-budgeted Original Series, Paramount sank beaucoup bucks into this next gen, from the costumes to the sets to the then-top-notch special effects, and a stunning level of detailfar beyond what audiences saw in the late '80sis on display in glorious 4:3. The audio has been remixed for DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, with a more aggressive rechanneling of the vintage stereo (also here in high-res 2.0!) than we usually hear for television shows in the home theater.
All of the DVD extras have been ported for this six-disc set, with newly-added goodies from back in the day (gag reel!) and the debut of two substantive documentaries, in high definition. This title was a smart choice to experiment with such an ambitious TV-to-Blu-ray restoration project, and while subsequent seasons of Picard & Co. are assured, we hope that it's a runaway hit for the studio, paving the way for them and others to dig deeper into the vault and revive similar classics.
[NOTE: Consumers have encountered some issues with the sound mixing of certain episodes and the audio synchronization on some of the bonus features. We're awaiting formal comment from CBS/Paramount.]