Secret Life of Us, The-Volume 2-Episodes 4-6 (2001)

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Released 27-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-Talking With Joel Edgerton
Interviews-Crew-Talking With Judi McCrossin
Featurette-Crew - Happy Stuff At Lunch Time
Gallery-Photo-15
Synopsis
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 138:33 (Case: 146)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lynn-Maree Danzey
Studio
Distributor
Southern Star
Shock Entertainment
Starring Claudia Karvan
Deborah Mailman
Samuel Johnson
Abi Tucker
Joel Edgerton
Spencer McLaren
Sibylla Budd
Damian De Montemas
David Tredinnick
Jessica Gower
Tasma Walton
Tempany Deckert
Andrew McKaige
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $9.95 Music Martin Armiger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Secret Life Of Us is a well regarded TV series that started in 2001. It is entering its fourth season in 2004, but this disc contains Season 1 Volume 2, or episodes #4-#6. The TV series won Logie Awards for "Most Outstanding Drama Series" in both 2001 and 2002, and developed a cult following in its first two seasons. The series is about a group of twentysomething friends and flatmates in an apartment block in St. Kilda, and comes across as Friends meets Sex In The City meets Beverly Hills 90210.

Episodes #4 (45:41) (The Garden of Gethsemane)

    Each of the main characters are undergoing their own private agonies where they must reflect on their past actions, and the decisions they need to make, just like Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane.

    Will (Joel Edgerton) has to decide whether he can put Leah (Tasma Walton) out of his life and his mind.

    Evan (Samuel Johnson) is still doing everything he possibly can to avoid work (i.e. writing his novel). He meets an older woman, Carmen (Catherine McClements), and finds himself inexplicably and embarrassingly ... in love.

    Kelly (Deborah Mailman) starts a new job as a matchmaker, but is still agonizing over whether she should continue her relationship with her new boyfriend, who seems somewhat lukewarm towards her.

    Richie (Spencer McLaren) and Miranda (Abi Tucker) are still trying to deal with Richie's new found success as an actor, and the possible consequences on Miranda's already low self esteem.

    Alex (Claudia Karvan) manages to get into the surgery programme, but her insecurities about her competence forces her to reject surgery assignments.

    Gabrielle (Sibylla Budd) and Jason (Damian De Montemas) are still bitter over Jason's infidelity.

Episodes #5 (45:42) (The Rules)

    Life is full of rules. In the playground, they are very explicit, but in adult life the rules can sometimes be unspoken ... or hidden. And if you break them, the consequences can be painful. Each of the characters this week is either trying to discover what the rules are, or thinking of breaking them.

    Kelly starts her new job, and learns all sorts of rules about the dos and don'ts of matchmaking.

    Despite the damage done by their illicit affair, Jason and Alex still have feelings for each other ...

    Will tries to forget about Leah by seeing Sam (Jessica Gower) but discovers his "Mr. Floppy" could do with a dose of Viagra ... He confides this to Miranda, only to discover news like that spreads pretty fast ...

    Evan discovers to his horror that he is falling in love with Carmen, which breaks every rule in his book. He tries to wean himself off her, and finds it more difficult than he anticipated.

    Richie is worried about his relationship with Miranda, and starts confiding in Simon (David Tredinnick).

Episodes #6 (47:10) (Expect the Unexpected )

    In this episode, each member of the cast either does something unexpected, or has something unexpected happen to them.

    Evan finally finishes writing his book, but discovers not everything is smooth sailing ...

    Kelly keeps hoping her on-again-off-again boyfriend Joseph will show some signs of commitment, but in the end it is she who makes the unexpected move ...

    Alex runs into trouble when she speaks her mind about unnecessary surgery being contemplated for a baby girl born with malformed genitalia. She also tries to re-establish her relationship with Gabrielle.

    Gabrielle and Jason starts seeing a marriage counsellor, but things don't really turn out the way they want ...

    Richie hangs out in the bar late one night with Simon, and things go a little bit out of control ...

    Meanwhile, in the same bar (but at a different time of day), Miranda discovers she has a hidden talent ...

    Finally, Will starts opening up and showing some feelings towards Sam ...

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, with very small black bars on either side of the frame. I assume this is the intended aspect ratio, since the series was produced after the commencement of widescreen Digital TV broadcasts in Australia on 1 January 2001, but I'm surprised it wasn't presented in an exact 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

    Given that we have three episodes spread across a dual layered disc, I would have expected the video transfer to be perfect, but it's not.

    I noticed various compression artefacts, including posterization and Gibbs effect, plus a tendency towards aliasing/combing for fast moving objects, which suggests that the video source may have been inherently interlaced.

    I suspect the transfer may have been less than optimally encoded, and intended for digital TV broadcast (single pass encoding, constant bitrate) without the care normally taken for a DVD transfer. The transfer also appears to have been sourced from a composite video master, since I noticed some composite video artefacts, including dot crawl and a bit of colour smearing.

    The overall look of the transfer is probably a bit on the soft side and slightly over-exposed with saturated highlights on some scenes. Colour saturation was acceptable but the transfer seemed to be missing the rich subtle colours of film.

    Darker scenes in the episodes feature a fair amount of video noise or "digital grain."

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitle tracks.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in between episodes. Episodes #4 and #5 are in Layer 0, and Episode #6 is in Layer 1. The extras are on Layer 1.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on the disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    The soundtrack has obviously been "blanded down" for TV broadcast, since it sounds quite heavily dynamically compressed, with all the life taken out of it and extreme low and high frequencies rolled off.

    I'm not sure whether the soundtrack is surround encoded, but the only instances I noticed of surround channel usage were for conveying background music ambience.

    At least the dialogue is clear and relatively easy to understand, except for a few instances where the characters are mumbling or speaking too fast.

    The background music features a selection of music from Mushroom Records . It's kind of funky and hip, and no doubt will go well for the target audience of the TV series.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Extras are minimal, but at least we get some extras.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu is animated and includes background audio.

Interviews-Cast- Talking With Joel Edgerton (3:37)

    This features the following interview snippets, all presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s):

Interviews-Crew- Talking With Judi McCrossin (2:58)

    This features the following interview snippets, all presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s):

Featurette- Crew - Happy Stuff At Lunch Time (0:43)

    This is a short snippet of the cast and crew playing with a ball in the car park, presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

Gallery-Photo- 15

    This contains 15 stills featuring various publicity photos of the cast.

Synopsis

    This present a one paragraph synopsis for the first 12 episodes of Season 1, accompanied by stills from the episode.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title has yet to be released in Region 1. It has been released in Region 2 UK, but as a three DVD set covering the first 11 episodes of Season 1. I don't think the UK version has any extras, which makes Region 4 the clear winner.

Summary

    The Secret Life Of Us Series 1, Volume 2 features Episodes #4-#6 from Season 1 of the cult TV series about a group of twentysomethings living in an apartment block in St. Kilda, Melbourne.

    The video transfer is okay, but has a number of compression artefacts.

    The audio transfer is okay, but the soundtrack sounds rather lifeless.

    Extras include an interview with Joel Edgerton and Judi McCrossin, a photo gallery and plot synopses.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, March 05, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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