Secret Life of Us, The-Volume 5-Episodes 13-15 (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-Talking With Abi Tucker
Music Video-Everybody, Performed By Abi Tucker
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Damian De Montemas
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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 5, or episodes #13 - #15. 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.
Alex's (Claudia Karvan) friend Eric (Oscar Redding) makes a bad boo-boo at the hospital and nearly kills a small child by administering an incorrect dose of drugs. He confesses to Alex, but then decides not to admit his mistake during the subsequent investigation. Problem is, he wants Alex to lie and support his version of the truth ...
Miranda's (Abi Tucker) friend Pandora (Susie Porter) returns from living overseas. The sexually ambiguous Pandora soon flirts with Alex, much to Evan's (Samuel Johnson) delight and fascination.
Richie (Spencer McLaren) meets a handsome guy at the gym called Brad (Kenneth Ransom). They are both attracted to each other, but Richie is still too inhibited to really give in to his desires. Brad invites Richie to join him and his friends at the bar, but Richie chickens out when he spies Jason in the distance.
Jason (Damian De Montemas) tries to patch up his friendship with Soraya but she is still suspicious.
Kelly (Deborah Mailman) tries her skills at network marketing, aided and encouraged by fellow distributor and new boyfriend Paolo (Steve Mouzakis).
Will (Joel Edgerton) and Sam's (Jessica Gower) relationship is disturbed when Will's ex-girlfriend Leah (Tasma Walton) suddenly comes back into Will's life.
Leah starts calling Will to do little "chores" for her, and Sam is not too impressed. Will has to somehow wean himself off Leah, or find another way to release his lingering affection for her ...
Evan starts a new job looking after the customers playing pokies at the local club. His sense of decency is disturbed when he realises how callous the management is in encouraging their 'customers' to spend all their money.
Evan and Alex are starting to get worried about the amount of money and time Kelly is spending on Iridescence. Kelly is shocked that after all her effort, the cheque she receives does not match her expectations. Kelly's incessant use of the phone deprives Evan of a work opportunity and Evan finally lashes out at Kelly ...
Alex decides to take the initiative in seducing a friend, Marcus (Shane Nicholson), but finds out things are not so easy ...
Gabrielle (Sibylla Budd) tries to balance between her husband Jason and her somewhat less-than-dependable boyfriend Mac (Damian Walshe-Howling).
Gabrielle confesses to Alex that Mac is very "inventive" in bed. When Alex passes on the news to Jason, he becomes obsessed with Gabrielle, to the point of stalking her ...
After another one night stand, Evan decides the only way he can concentrate on finishing his book is to give up on women and sex. However, Alex decides to test his resolve by shamelessly flirting with him at every opportunity ...
Kelly wonders what is wrong with her relationship with Paolo when everything points to him being "Mr. Right" ...
Will is spooked out by Richie's indecision about his sexuality and starts wondering if Richie may harbour any desires for him. In the meantime, Sam is upset with Will over his recent dependence on Leah ...
Miranda is determined to impress a producer, and gate crashes his party. Problem is, she had one too many of everything, and can't remember what happened ...
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 on some scenes. Colour saturation was acceptable but the transfer seems 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 #13 and #14 are on Layer 0, and Episode #15 is on Layer 1. The extras are on Layer 1.
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 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.
|Surround Channel Use|
Extras are minimal, but at least we get some extras.
The menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu is animated and includes background audio.
This features the following interview snippets, all presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s):
This is presented in 1.78:1 (non 16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).
This contains 15 stills featuring various publicity photos of the cast.
This present a one paragraph synopsis for all 22 episodes of Season 1, accompanied by stills from the episode.
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.
The Secret Life Of Us Series 1, Volume 5 features Episodes #13 - #15 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 and music video with Abi Tucker, a photo gallery and plot synopses.
|DVD||Custom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|