Secret Life of Us, The-Volume 3-Episodes 7-9 (2001)

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Released 27-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-Talking With Spencer McLaren
Interviews-Cast-Talking With David Tredinnick
Gallery-Photo-15
Synopsis
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 136:39 (Case: 141)
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's entering its fourth season in 2004, but this disc contains Season 1 Volume 3, or episodes #7-#9. 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.

Episode #7 (45:23) (The Road Less Taken)

    This episode is about the romantic and friendship choices we make, and the consequences.

    Richie (Spencer McLaren) is confused about his sexuality and tries to avoid Simon (David Tredinnick). However, Miranda (Abi Tucker) thinks he must be having an affair with his co-star Ingrid.

    Meanwhile, Kelly (Deborah Mailman) is uncomfortable about match-making Louise, who is determined to find herself a rich husband so that she can quit her job at the RACV.

    Jason (Damian De Montemas) is trying to defend a young boy accused of armed robbery. He has a one-night stand with a policewoman, Soraya, but then tries to break the relationship. Gabrielle (Sibylla Budd) and Alex (Claudia Karvan) slowly resume their friendship.

    Will (Joel Edgerton) and Sam (Jessica Gower) continue to develop their relationship, but Will turns jealous when he finds out Sam had sex with her ex-boyfriend on the disastrous day of the picnic.

    Evan (Samuel Johnson) continues his relationship with Carmen (Catherine McClements).

Episode #8 (45:41) (What am I?)

    In this episode the characters question who they really are, what they want from other people, and whether they are winning the game of "life."

    Will is asking each of his friends to assume the role of a famous soccer player as he assembles a "Will's dream team versus the Rest of the World" match.

    Evan is having doubts about whether he has what it takes to be a writer. He is also wondering what kind of relationship he is forming with Carmen and where it will go.

    Jason is wondering whether he should change his life and become a corporate lawyer instead of working at the legal aid centre.

    Alex is still caught between Jason and Gabrielle.

    Richie is still confused about his sexual orientation. His indecision is also confusing Miranda.

    Kelly is trying to match-make a seemingly "perfect" man against several women and wondering why none of them want to pursue a relationship with him despite high compatibility scores.

Episode #9 (45:35) (The Secret Life of Us)

    Our friends confide their secrets to each other over dinner - events that have defined their lives.

    Alex talks about an embarrassing episode competing with her arch-nemesis in roller-skating. Kelly recounts a story concerning her two pet mice. Gabrielle and Jason recount how they met each other in the student radio station at uni. Miranda talks about her father leaving her family for another woman.

    Simon talks about his engagement with a girl. Richie talks about discovering photos of his grandmother when she was a young woman. Alex recalls a touching episode about an old couple at the hospital. Will talks about standing up to a bullying teacher in school. Evan talks about the time when he was awarded a gold star by his father (a teacher at his school) for an excellent essay he had written in Year 2.

    Right at the end, Evan shares an additional secret with Alex.

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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

    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 be 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 in 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 #7 and #9 are on Layer 0, and Episode #8 is on 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 this 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 out and extreme low and high frequencies rolled off.

    I'm not sure whether the soundtrack is surround encoded, but I did not hear any noticeable instances of the surround channels being utilized.

    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 Spencer McLaren (1:18)

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

Interviews-Cast- Talking With David Tredinnick (0:39)

    This features David talking about his character Simon, 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 3 features Episodes #7-#9 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 Spencer McLaren and David Tredinnick, a photo gallery and plot synopses.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, March 29, 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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