Plus the Life of Ozzy, 'Assassin's Creed', Renoir and Kieslowski
Criterion has a reputation for presenting the greatest film of world cinema in superb editions, but with week they top even their own high standards. "Three Colors: Blue White Red" (Criterion) offers newly remastered editions of the Krzysztof Kieslowski films, a sublime trilogy given a magnificent treatment. Jean Renoir's "The Rules Of The Game" (Criterion) is rereleased in a new, improved high-definition master with additional supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
After Alex Cox proved himself unmarketable in the US, he went South and toiled in the low budget film industry in Mexico and within the tight restrictions of the Mexican studios he turned out another powerful, personal little film which even received limited theatrical distribution in the US in 1992. "Highway Patrolman" (Microcinema) chronicles the descent of a rookie cop into the morass of corruption and moral self destruction fostered by the very system he works within (an allegory for Mexican politics in general?). Austerely shot on the desolate highways and empty plains of Durango, Cox effectively uses long takes and extended tracking shots to communicate the pace of life while keeping the focus on the young cop and his experiences. Robert Sosa is terrific as the idealistic newlywed ready to make a difference, and every compromise he makes takes that much more life out of the character, replaced with a weary acceptance of… well, almost anything. The DVD debut features commentary by Cox and producer Lorenzo O'Brien and three shorts.
"Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis" (Kino) is the 1984 reconstruction of Fritz Lang's silent classic with (then) newly-discovered footage, lavish tints and a rock soundtrack. Now it is more of a curiosity than a classic, all but displaced by recent restorations, but it was so influential in its day—it was many a film lover's first introduction to the film and it for years it was (for all of Moroder's tinkering) the most complete and best looking edition you could find on home video—that Kino has honored the film and its place in film history with DVD and Blu-ray release true to Moroder's labor-of-love original release. Features "A Personal Message by Giorgio Moroder" and a 1984 documentary about film preservation and the restoration of "Metropolis" produced by Moroder. For more on the film and the DVD/Blu-ray release, read Glenn Erickson's review at Turner Classic Movies.
"God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" (Eagle Rock) chronicles the four-decade career of the heavy metal icon. The DVD and Blu-ray both feature a bonus Q&A with Ozzy and Jack Osbourne, deleted scenes and footage from the Tribeca Film Festival screening.
Ralph Richardson stars as a thinly-veiled version of Dutch war hero Piet Hein, who posed as a Nazi collaborator while secretly sabotaging their fleet, in "The Silver Fleet" (VCI), a British war drama from 1943.
Originally made for the web are "Assassin's Creed: Lineage" (Flatiron), a prequel to the film series based on the hit video game, and "Red vs. Blue: Season 9" (Flatiron), an animated spoof of spun off from the video game Halo.
"The Legacy Collection: Kirk Douglas" (Inception Media Group) presents five features from the public domain ("The Strange Love of Martha Ivers," "My Dear Secretary," "The Big Trees," "Catch Me a Spy" and "The Master Touch") and select DVD appearances and trailers on three discs, and "Dahling: A Tribute to Zsa Zsa Gabor" (Inception Media Group) presents the movies "Mooch Goes to Hollywood" and "Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie" and select TV appearances and trailers on single disc. Don't expect quality; these are cheap public domain prints indifferently mastered for DVD.
Plus the new 'Being Human' and new collections of vintage TV shows
"Being Human: The Complete First Season (U.S.)" (eOne) is the American incarnation of the original British series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who become roommates and try to live like regular folk. Videodrone's review is here.
"Neverwhere: 15th Anniversary Edition" (BBC) remasters the 1996 British mini-series adapted by Neil Gaiman from his own novel. Videodrone's review is here, with an exclusive clip with Neil Gaiman. And "Crime Story: The Complete Series" (Image) collects the two seasons of Michael Mann’s sixties-era gangster series in bargain-priced edition. Reviewed here.
"It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series" (eOne) comes out of the same sixties cold war culture and American adventurism of shows like "Mission: Impossible" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," but in place of the suave superspy is the slick civilian thief and con man drafted into government service.
Robert Wagner is the career criminal Alexander Mundy, sprung from prison in exchange for applying his talents to special assignments. "We're not asking you to spy," explains his agency boss Noah Bain (a wonderfully wry Malachi Throne). "We're just asking you to steal." Wagner is perfect for the role, part James Bond playboy spy and part all-American operator, always with an eye toward the ladies between (and often during) missions, and the show has a great line-up of guest star beauties on both sides of the spy game, including Susan Saint James in a recurring role as a fellow thief who crosses his path more than once. Malachi Throne left the series after two seasons and was never really replaced but the third and final season has its own rewards: it was shot in Italy, which gives the season a real international flavor and glamour, and brings in Fred Astaire in a recurring role as Alexander's father Alistair, the globetrotting master thief who taught Alexander everything he knows.
The 18-disc box set presents the entire three-season run, all 66 episodes, plus the expanded feature version of the pilot that was released to theaters. The image quality, however, is spotty. Apparently mastered from 16mm television prints, the first season episodes I sampled looked fine but the later seasons are mastered from faded and dull and often worn prints, and some episodes appeared to be old, pre-digital video masters. Each season is in a flimsy fold-out paperboard digipak with slipsleeves rather than trays, and the supplements are limited to new interviews with Robert Wagner and producer/writer Glen A. Larson. The box is a little cheap, sad to say. And there's also a set of coasters.
"Aaron Copland: Music in the 20s" (Kultur), produced by the pre-PBS station WNET in 1964, presents a series lecture presented by composer Aaron Copland, who also conducts a studio orchestra. The complete 12-part series of half-hour episodes on three discs.
"The California Raisins Collection" (Hen's Tooth) spotlights the unlikely fame of the stop-motion animated characters created by Will Vinton through two TV specials ("Meet the Raisins" and "Raisins: Sold Out"), four TV commercials and the short-lived cel animated Saturday morning TV series.
"American Restoration: Season One" (History) presents the first 16 episodes in the spin-off of "Pawn Stars." "Half Pint Brawlers: Season 1" (Image) is a reality series spin-off of "Jackass" following the exploits of a group of self-proclaimed hardcore little person wrestlers. Seven episodes. "Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution" (Paramount) features seven episodes of the stand-up comedy showcase.
Criterion releases some of the greatest films ever made in new DVD editions and Blu-ray debuts
Criterion established itself as the gold standard for classic cinema on home video first on laserdisc, then on DVD and now for Blu-ray. This week, Criterion brings out editions of four of the greatest, most beautiful and most resonant films every made in newly remastered DVD editions and Blu-ray debuts: "Three Colors: Blue White Red," the great trilogy from Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Jean Renoir's "The Rules Of The Game."
Reviled and condemned upon its release in 1939, butchered by the studio and declared a rediscovered masterpiece when is was reconstructed and restored in 1959, Jean Renoir’s "The Rules Of The Game" (1939) is at once savage social satire and a compassionate comedy of manners with a fatal, feral undercurrent. Set in the dying days of the 1930s, as the Third Reich cast a long shadow over a seemingly impotent France, the ironic drama of life, love, class, and the social code of manners and behavior --“the rules of the game” of the title -- finds its microcosm of French society in the farcical romantic triangles that play out during a weekend in the country. The defining line of the film -- “Everyone has their reasons” -- is transformed by Renoir from a statement of tolerance to a dismissal of behavior to ultimately an apologist’s impotent excuse for the inexcusable. I'd have a hard time calling this my "favorite" of Renoir's films, as it demands so much and can leave you devastated by end, but I believe that there is not a more perfect, more profound, or more inexhaustible film in Renoir’s amazing career.
Criterion originally released this on DVD in 2004 in what was then a state-of-the-art edition. It's been newly remastered in a high-definition digital restoration, which brings out greater detail, depth and texture. As it is mastered from a reconstruction of a film that was drastically re-edited after its release, from whatever materials survived (the original negative was destroyed in during World War II), the greater detail reveals more of the wear and damage, but that is an honest trade-off. Criterion was able to digitally clean up most of the scratches, grit and wear, and what's left is the legacy of film and time. DVD Beaver compares the new transfer to the previous DVD editions here.
The Blu-ray and the new DVD editions both feature the supplements of the earlier DVD release, including commentary, comparisons between the cut version and the reconstructed edition, featurettes, interviews and archival material. A complete reckoning is included below.
Krzysztof Kieslowski ended his career with "Three Colors: Blue White Red" (Criterion), a trilogy of delicately connected films that many hold as his greatest work. They are the three colors of the French flag and the films reflect the ideals of the motto "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" as Kieslowski-an exploration of the human experience. Liberty is represented "Blue" (1993), starring the luminous Juliette Binoche as a young widow who withdraws from the world after the sudden death of her husband and child. The hushed study in loss, which hovers around Binoche as she tries to live a life of emotional detachment, is a film of magnificent grace, informed by the sometimes soothing, sometimes alienating hues of her blue existence, and the enigmatic production is the richest, most lush visual experience of the trilogy. "White" (1993) couldn’t be more different, an unexpected comedy of rejection and revenge starring Zbigniew Zamachowski as a sad sack Polish immigrant who, after being dumped by his frustrated wife Julie Delpy, returns to the new Poland of capitalism and prepares his plan of wounded vengeance. "Red" (1994), the story of a French model (Irene Jacob) who befriends an embittered retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who eavesdrops on his neighbors’ conversations, is the warmest and most forgiving of the series.
The subtlest of details weave through the three films, flourishes that marry them to the same cinematic universe. “I have said all I need to say on film," remarked Kieslowski after completing the trilogy. ""Red" is my summation.” Revisiting the films 17 years after the release of his summation, I find "Blue" to be the most intimate and poetic of the three and "Red" the most complex and densely woven, reverberating with doubles and disconnected relationships that dance around one another throughout the film until the final scene of "Red," a coda that pulls all three films together in an unforgettable scene of emotional power and beauty.
Miramax released the three films to DVD in 2003. Criterion returns to the original materials for new high-definition masters for a significantly improved presentation on DVD and a much-anticipated Blu-ray debut. DVD Beaver tackles the Blu-ray releases with technical reviews of all three film: "Blue," "White" and "Red."
Criterion includes many (but not all) of the supplements from the Miramax release in their box set (the most obvious omission are the commentary tracks that Annette Insdorf recorded for each film), and adds a few of its own, most prominently superb video essays by Annette Insdorf (on "Blue"), Tony Rayns ("White") and Dennis Lim ("Red"). See below for complete list of supplements.
For more on the supplements, and clips from "Red," continue reading below.
Everything's Blu in America!
Life is all right in America when you can celebrate the "West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition" (Fox) with a Blu-ray debut, though there is a production issue that make this edition just "mostly right." Details after the clip.
See below for an MSN Exclusive clip from the Blu-ray
Playwright Arthur Laurents, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein collaborated to turn "Romeo and Juliet" into a modern story of rival gangs on the streets of 1950s inner city New York, where the whites and the Puerto Ricans battle for supremacy. Robert Wise co-directs the screen adaptation with stage choreographer Jerome Robbins, and he gives Robbins a free hand to let dance and movement dominate, while Leonard Bernstein’s score is, simply put, one of the greatest in musical history.
The Blu-ray comes in two editions. The three-disc Blu-ray+DVD features the extras of the previous DVD special editions (the hour-long documentary "West Side Memories," storyboard-to-film comparisons) plus new supplements: "A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy," a half-hour featurette that looks back on the impact and influence of the original show and the film; "Pow! The Dances of West Side Story," a picture-in-picture track that engages for the dance numbers; song specific commentary by lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and a jukebox function to jump directly to the songs. The documentaries are presented in a separate disc.
Here's a clip from "A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy" featured on the Blu-ray.
The Deluxe Edition doesn't offer much more than the regular Blu-ray, and certainly nothing essential. The standard plastic case is replaced by a foldout digibook with slipsleeve trays and includes a bonus CD tribute, but it's limited to a mere 8 songs. The set comes in a box that also features a 40-page hardcover booklet with notes and photos and an envelope with postcard reproductions of film posters from around the world. Fun for the "West Side" fanatic but of nominal interest to everyone else and, by my measure, not worth the hefty price increase.
The transfer is gorgeous and the image and sound is getting high marks from the critics I trust to measure and judge technical quality (see Robert Harris at Home Theater Forum and Gary Tooze at DVD Beaver), but there is a small but significant error in the presentation of the opening credits: The dissolve from the stylized skyline to the Main Title has been replaced by a fade-to-black and then a fade into the Main Titles.
Fox is not recalling the sets but has promised to provide what they call a "running fix" and replace the faulty discs at a later date, which means that if you purchase the set now, you will have to follow-up late and arrange for a replacement to get the correct edition. For more details on the problem (and the blame), check out the research by Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere.
Why does something so small matter? Because the job of a Blu-ray is to honor the film and bring you as accurate a representation of an ideal film screening experience as possible within the bounds of the format. Some issues are simply a matter of the materials available. This gaffe is a production error, however, and is correctable.
The entire run of Michael Mann's cops and gangsters show at a bargain price
After helping turn "Miami Vice" into the defining neon crime show of its era, Michael Mann turned back the clock and put his stamp on "Crime Story: The Complete Series" (Image). Created by former Chicago cop Chuck Adamson and Gustave Reininger, Mann’s sixties-era gangster series made for a fabulous mix of genres (old-time gangster thriller, modern mob movie and early rock and roll sixties culture) and one of the most stylish and snappy shows on TV.
Dennis Farina (also a former Chicago Cop and a Michael Mann favorite) is Lt. Mike Torello, a cop obsessed with to putting away ruthless street thug turned fast-rising mob superstar Ray Luca (Anthony Denison). Along with his crack unit (among them Bill Smitrovich and Bill Campbell), they follow him from the streets of Chicago to the bright lights and casino action of Las Vegas.
From its gritty streetwise feature length pilot to its atomic bombshell of a season climax, it was one of the most exciting blasts of TV excitement of its era. Snazzy duds, hairdos and period detail give the show a glitzy surface, the great music, hard-boiled dialogue and smartly composed scripts give it a great sound, and the tough guy camaraderie and obsessive sweep of the season-long clash of tough cops and arrogant mobsters provides the dramatic drive. Stephen Lang co-stars as the assistant DA who proves himself to be just as driven as Torello, and John Santucci (as the dim but unfailingly loyal Pauli Taglia), Ted Levine, Jay O. Sanders, and Andrew Dice Clay are among the colorful gangsters that help Luca build his criminal empire.
The complete series gets a new release in a bargain-priced edition: all 43 episodes of the two-season run, including the feature-length pilot directed by Abel Ferrara and starring David Caruso as a hot-headed Irish thug who falls victim to Luca. Guest stars in the first season include Pam Grier, Ving Rhames, Lorraine Bracco, Gary Sinise, Deborah Harry, Vincent Gallo, and Julia Roberts. The second season, which moves the action from Chicago to Las Vegas, opens with a thinly veiled fictionalization of Kennedy (part JFK, part Robert, played with a New England twang by Kevin Spacey) and Marilyn Monroe (Jenny Wright) but really gears up when Ray Lucca, presumed dead after his brush with an atom bomb test in the Nevada desert (one of the most mind-bending scenes on American TV in the eighties), returns more powerful and more protected than ever. Guest stars this season include Stephen McHattie, James Remar, David Soul, George Dzundza, David Hyde Pierce, Margaret Avery, Laura San Giacomo, Michael J. Pollard, and the return of Darlanne Fluegel (as Farina's ex-wife) and Pam Grier (as reporter Suzanne Terry).
The new nine-disc "25th Anniversary" set comes in the five-tray digibook and arrives in stores at a suggested retail price of $29.95 (less with the inevitable discounts). These appear to be the same transfers as the previous Anchor Editions: no remastering here, some of the episodes appear to be shorter syndication versions and some of the original music has been replaced (pretty common for shows of this vintage but frustrating for a show where music is such a major part of the equation). Del Shannon's great theme song, however, it intact, and that alone can power an episode. No supplements. We still await a definitive edition but this will make do until then.
Here's the opening credits sequence with Shannon's great reworking of "Runaway"
Plus 'Griff the Invisible,' 'Main Street' and a Chinese remake of 'What Women Want'
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts carry "Larry Crowne" (Universal), a romantic comedy of downsizing, second chances and making friends at community college. Videodrone's review is here. Speaking of second chances, "Beginners" (Universal) stars Ewan McGregor as an artist challenged to open up his life after his father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet at age 75. Videodrone's review is here.
"Bellflower" (Oscilloscope) is a scruffy American indie about cars, friendship, the disappointment of romance and building the perfect car-mounted flame thrower for the apocalypse, and an impressive showcase debut for writer-director-editor-actor Evan Glodell, who reportedly made the film for under $15,000. "Like "Fight Club," "Bellflower" is about the unspoken challenge facing American young men trying to make it into manhood -- who do you have to explain to you how to be a man when your only models are the dads in the bad marriages who don't stay and the actors in the bad movies that don't stop?" writes MSN film critic James Rocchi. "It's warm and beautiful and terrible and scary, full of heart and blood and truly unique." The Blu-ray+DVD combo pack includes featurettes, interviews and outtakes.
"The Tree" (Zeitgeist), directed by Julie Bertuccelli, was the closing night film at Cannes 2010. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as French widow in Australia whose youngest daughter thinks her dead father is speaking to her through the fig tree in their yard. "Despite the potential for some supernatural grandiosity, the tone here remains understated and quiet, and Gainsbourg's performance feels lived-in, and deep, and right," writes Philadelphia Inquirer critic Steven Rea. The DVD includes the featurette "In the Shadow of The Tree" and nine deleted scenes, plus an insert with a director interview.
"Griff the Invisible" (Vivendi), from Australia, stars Ryan Kwanten (of "True Blood") as a sad sack by day turned self-made superhero at night. "There have been so many movies about aspiring superheroes in recent years, they practically constitute their own genre," writes New York Daily News film critic Elizabeth Weitzman. "Though hardly ground-breaking, this whimsical Australian entry is just endearing enough to stand out from the pack." On DVD and Blu-ray, with commentary, making-of featurettes and deleted scenes among the supplements. James Rocchi interviews Ryan Kwanten for The Hitlist here.
"Main Street" (Magnolia) stars Colin Firth, Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson, Amber Tamblyn and Orlando Bloom, who were surely tempted to this ensemble piece for the chance to be in the final screenplay by Horton Foote. "Main Street shoots for a sprawling, John Saylesian portrait of a community, but beyond just being dramatically inert — you can only pick out the climax after the fact — its characters also seems curiously disconnected from each other and from the physical location in which they’re supposed to live," complains Movieline film critic Alison Willmore. The DVD and Blu-ray include a featurette and deleted scenes.
From China comes a remake of "What Women Want" (China Lion) starring Andy Lau and Gong Li in roles created by Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. "Andy Lau and Gong Li are appealing leads, but this Chinese-language carbon copy doesn't find a distinctive voice," writes Los Angeles Times film critic Mark Olsen. Also from China is the historical war epic "The Warring States" (China Lion), a South Korean co-production set in the early Chinese empire. Both in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles.
Jonathon Nossiter directs Charlotte Rampling, Bill Pullman, Irene Jacob and Fisher Stevens in "Rio Sex Comedy" (FilmBuff), which (as you might guess from the title) is a romantic comedy set in the sexually charged atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro.
On the non-fiction front is "The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls" (Disinformation), about the New Zealand lesbian twin sister yodeling comedy duo. Village Voice film critic Melissa Anderson writes that "the beloved Kiwi duo, who frequently perform as a rotating cast of corny alter egos, can charm even the crankiest viewers, thanks to their soaring, clarion harmonies and cuddly-butch personas." The DVD includes a featurette and bonus interviews and deleted scenes.
Also this week is "The Wavy Gravy Movie: Saint Misbehaving" (Docurama), a portraits of the counterculture clown and activist who made his fame performing at Woodstock and touring with the Grateful Dead. Features almost an hour of deleted scenes. "Superheroes" (Docurama) looks at the self-styled citizen superheroes who patrol city streets today in homemade costumes and "When Strangers Click: Five Stories From The Internet" (Disinformation) profiles stories of couples who met through online dating.
"Sleep Furiously" (Microcinema), a contemplative drama set in a small farming community in Wales; "The Littlest Angel" (Anchor Bay), a new animated version of the bestselling kids book; The horror film "The Open Door" (Phase 4) and the western "The Righteous and the Wicked" (Lionsgate).
50 of the greatest Warner cartoons ever made? Hard to argue this selection…
"Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1" (Warner) promises "50 of the greatest shorts the studio has ever made" and I while I may quibble over specific choices, I can't fault the overall curation of the collection, which leans toward the diversity of artists, characters and styles through the golden age of the Warner animation unit.
Disc One features the best of the defining characters: Bug Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, plus Sylvester and Tweety, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe le Pew and Speedy Gonzales. Among the 25 cartoons collected here are Chuck Jones' two brilliant opera spoofs "Rabbit of Seville" and "What's Opera, Doc," Daffy in "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" and "Robin Hood Daffy," the Oscar-winning "Tweetie Pie" (the debut of Tweety Bird), two definitive Road Runner classics and one of the greatest cartoons every made: "Duck Amuck," where Daffy goes to war against a prankster animator.
Disc Two is a treasure trove of the studio's greatest one-shots and minor creations. Along with such one-offs as "One Froggy Evening" (the wordless masterpiece with the all-singing, all dancing frog) "The Three Little Bops" (a jazzbo rendition of The Three Little Pigs with Stan Freberg doing voice duty) and "The Dover Boys at Pimento University" (Chuck Jones' wonderfully surreal parody of 19th century dime novels with Tom, Dick and Larry and not-so-helpless damsel Dora) are the complete golden age appearance of Marvin the Martian (five cartoons, including "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century"), the Tasmanian Devil (five cartoons), Witch Hazel (four), kitten-loving canine Marc Antony (three) and Ralph Richards, the boy daydreamer whose flights of fantasy take him through the most delightful of boy's own adventures (two cartoons, both directed by Chuck Jones).
There's commentary on more than half of the cartoons plus bonus featurettes on various characters, creators and individual cartoons on each disc, while Disc Three is all supplements, anchored by the documentaries "Chuck Amuck: The Movie" and "Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation" and the interview featurette "Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood." It also features nine Chuck Jones rarities (including six made for various branches of the U.S. Government) and animated shorts with the classic Warner characters made since 1980. The entire set is collected in a sturdy booklet with notes and art. A deluxe edition comes in a hefty box that only adds a couple of extras: a framed litho cel with a certificate of authenticity, souvenir tin sign magnet and a Bugs Bunny shot glass. You decide if that's worth an extra $20 to you.
In its own way a true service to the animation collector, but it's also a frustration to those very collectors who have so meticulously picked up every Looney Tunes collection. With the exception of the bonus shorts on disc three, every classic cartoon has already been released on DVD in various collections and this isn't going to take the place of any existing DVD set. But it sure is a beauty of a set.
A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost walk into a TV series…
"Being Human: The Complete First Season (U.S.)" (eOne) is the American incarnation of the original British series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who become roommates in a Boston house.
Yeah, I know it sounds like the set-up for a joke, but it's really another entry in horror TV in the post-"Buffy" era, and it's one of the better ones. The original British series started strong, telling the story of "monsters" trying to live human lives while resisting the pull of their new supernatural instincts and communities. Which, of course, is complicated when you sprout fangs at the promise of fresh blood, turn into a hairy, feral killer at the full moon or have a tendency to unleash an earthquake in the home whenever your emotions get out control. That's exactly when you can use a little help from your friends.
I liked the first season of the original British series but thought it lost its way in the second season. The debut season of the American series, which at 13 episodes is almost as long as the first two British seasons combined, turns out to be a sturdier construct than the original.
It's remarkably faithful to the storylines of the original while adding new threads of its own and it makes good use of the extended season to slow down the pace and explore their journeys and their struggles. Sam Witwer has that bad-boy edge and malevolent smile thing down as Aidan the reformed (but still tempted) vampire, Meaghan Rath is as cute as her excitable British counterpart as the ghost Sally, and I really like Sam Huntington as the nerdy sad-sack werewolf Josh, who has an even greater conflict than his British counterpart when he gets a human pregnant. That's gonna be a difficult during the full moon.
SyFy originals are a spotty lot, I confess, but this one doesn't shy away from the more feral qualities of the original -- it's not just about bloodlust and temptation, it's about giving in and dealing with remorse and guilt, the human part of the monster mash -- and it offers up characters that we can invest ourselves in. But I wonder if Boston is starting to get a complex, since the show is actually shot in Montreal. With "Leverage" doubling Portland, Oregon, for Boston, you figure someone in the state has got be thinking of extending those film subsidies.
13 episodes on four discs in a three-panel digipak, with two discs stacked in each tray, plus supplements: the featurettes "The Making of Being Human" and "What Would You Choose?," bonus interviews with stars Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath and Sam Huntington, and footage from their appearance at Comic Con. The second season begins on SyFy in January.
Here's a clip from the first episode.