Absentia: Season One (2017) (NTSC)

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Released 15-Aug-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 437:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Oded Ruskin
ViaVision Starring Stana Katic
Patrick Heusinger
Angel Bonanni
Cara Theobold
Neil Jackson
Ralph Ineson
Bruno Bichir
Patrick McAuley
Richard Brake
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ofer Meiri

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Women are being murdered in Boston, their corpses found with their eyelids cut off. When FBI agent on the case Emily Byrne (Stana Katic) disappears the FBI believe that she has been kidnapped and murdered by the suspected serial killer Conrad Harlow (Richard Brake). Emily is declared legally dead in absentia and Harlow is convicted of her murder. After a year Emily’s husband Nick (Patrick Heusinger), also an FBI agent, marries Alice (Cara Theobold) and the two bring up Emily and Nick’s young son Flynn (Patrick McAuley).

     Six years pass. Then one night Nick receives a phone call he believes is from Harlow; he is told that Emily is alive and where to find her. Nick and other officers break into an isolated cabin and discover Emily in a tank, beaten and half drowned. Emily is badly traumatised; she cannot remember anything about the last six years, only being tortured by a person in a mask. Emily slowly starts to recover but has to cope with having lost her husband and her son to another woman. Harlow, having been gaoled for Emily’s murder, is set free, having always maintained his innocence. Emily moves in with her brother Jack (Neil Jackson), a recovering alcoholic, and tries desperately to reconnect with her son although she suffers flashbacks and psychic episodes and is being treated by psychiatrist Dr Vega (Bruno Bichir).

     If Harlow did not kidnap Emily, who did? And if he did, he must have had an accomplice. Then another corpse turns up, with its eyelids mutilated, while Harlow was still in gaol so he could not have been the killer. But when Emily’s DNA is found on the body, and a witness turns up who says she saw Emily and the man arguing two weeks previously, Boston PD Detective Tommy Gibbs (Angel Bonanni) brings Emily in for questioning. Is Emily really a victim, or something else entirely? Is she being framed? Emily always believed that there was a corrupt FBI agent in the Boston field office, something Special Agent in charge of the Boston FBI Adam Radford (Ralph Ineson) investigated but dismissed. Then Harlow is murdered; Emily becomes the prime suspect and the hunt for her becomes more intense when Radford is also murdered.

     We are not shown the killer in either case. Is Emily as innocent as she tells Nick? Emily goes on the run, her repressed memories from her childhood in an orphanage leading her to a mass grave in a grove of trees where the corpses have had their eyelids removed. Some of the corpses have been there for over 15 years, far earlier than Harlow was supposed to have commenced his killing spree. As Emily digs deeper into her past with the Police and FBI on her trail, there emerges a very real threat to her son.

     Absentia is one of those mystery / crime / drama mini-series where nothing is simple and there is enough misdirection, false leads and red herrings to open a fish market! In almost every episode a new prime suspect is identified, but then cleared, or killed, and the case moves off in another direction. This is not so unusual in this genre but whether the series works, and the misdirection is acceptable, depends upon the ability of the series to explain, rationally, why the events happened. For a number of its 10 episodes Absentia is intriguing, grounded by excellent performances from the four principal leads, Stana Katic, (best known for her role in the TV series Castle from 2009 to 2016), Patrick Heusinger (who actually did appear in one episode of Castle!), Cara Theobold and Angel Bonanni, and because the personal interactions and dilemmas as Nick, not to mention Flynn, are emotionally torn between Emily and Alice feel genuine.

     However, the further Absentia goes, the more it feels contrived and implausible. There are characters that appear on the periphery who may or may not be important, incidents that go nowhere, clues that seemly come out of the blue, coincidences and there are major characters who change dramatically; it is almost as if the writers are saying “how can we misdirect the audience more?” When the climax comes and all is revealed, which it is, the motivations do make some sense but one’s reaction is still one of those “really, is that what this was all about!” moments. And, true to form, the final scene of Absentia adds another twist.

     The 10 episodes of Season One of Absentia were streamed in the US between September and November 2017. This three DVD set Absentia: Season One contains all 10 episodes. As far as I can see there is no suggestion that Season Two is being made.

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Transfer Quality


     Absentia is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in NTSC, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a gritty TV mini-series and the print reflects this. There are lots of dark colours and the fluid handheld style, with added extreme close-ups and flashes of single frames and other quick fire editing, means that detail can be lost. Colours, especially yellows under lights or the green of a swimming pool, are glossy. Blacks are strong, shadow detail reasonable, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     I noticed no marks although there was evidence of aliasing against vertical blinds and some motion blur.

     No subtitles are provided.

     The layer change on Discs 1 and 3 was not noticeable. On Disc 2 there was a slight pause at a scene change in episode 4 at 21:53.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     This is a series with a lot of conversations and dialogue is generally easy to understand. The rears and surrounds mostly featured music and some ambient sound but when required in sequences such as the flooding of the tank, the swimming pool scenes or FBI raids, the surrounds were very active. Shots were loud. The sub-woofer added depth to the music and impacts.

     The score by Ofer Meiri was appropriate.

     I did not notice any lip synchronization issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     No extras. The menu of each disc allows access to the episodes on that disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     While Absentia is available on Amazon for streaming from Prime, our Region All release is the only DVD currently listed.


     Absentia is an example of a series where some of the parts are very good, and better than the whole. The series starts well and has some good moments of tension, drama and mystery. In the end, however, it becomes more and more implausible although Stana Katic remains good to watch and director Oded Ruskin keeps the thriller aspects flowing. Just don’t think about it too much and there is enjoyment to be had.

     The video and audio are fine. No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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