Roswell-Season 1 (1999)

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Released 4-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers/Cast - Six Episodes
Deleted Scenes-Pilot
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Area 51: Behind The Scenes Of Roswell
Featurette-Making Of-Roswell High: The Making Of Roswell
Featurette-Actor Auditions
Music Video-'Save Yourself' - Sense Field
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 918:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Behring
Arvin Brown
Rodney Charters
James A. Contner
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Shiri Appleby
Jason Behr
Katherine Heigl
Brendan Fehr
Majandra Delfino
Colin Hanks
Nick Wechsler
Emilie de Ravin
Adam Rodriguez
William Sadler
Case ?
RPI ? Music Zan Passante
Julius Robinson
W.G. Snuffy Walden


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
French Titling
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    More a teen drama than a science-fiction series, Roswell is like a cross between Dawson’s Creek and The X-Files – but somehow, it works.

    Based on the Roswell High series of books for young adults, the show follows the love affair of Max (Jason Behr) and Liz (Shiri Appleby), two teenagers in Roswell, New Mexico, bonded together when Max saves Liz’s life. But there is much more to Max than meets the eye, and their relationship is persistently complicated by the fact that Max is from another world, but has no idea which planet he is from or how he got to Earth.

    With him on Earth are his sister Isabel (Kathryn Heigl) and best friend Michael (Brendan Fehr). Liz’s best friends, Maria (Majandra Delfino) and Alex (Colin Hanks), are also brought into the conspiracy as they try to keep the truth from the local Sheriff, Valenti (William Sadler), whose son, Kyle (Nick Wechsler), is Liz’s ex-boyfriend.

    Here is a summary of the first season:

Disc 1

    1. Pilot (42:14) – When Liz is shot during an altercation at the Crash Down, Max risks exposure to save her life. But with their secret out, his sister and best friend are suddenly at risk.

    2. The Morning After (42:11) – When Michael steals evidence of an alien encounter from Sheriff Valenti’s office he experiences flashes of an object he can’t describe. Meanwhile, Liz tries to maintain her relationship with Kyle although being more and more drawn to Max. And she begins to suspect that the substitute teacher isn’t what she appears to be.

    3. Monsters (41:57) – Maria is having difficulty coming to terms with her knowledge of the origin of Max and the others. With Sheriff Valenti leaning on her as the weak link, will she buckle?

    4. Leaving Normal (42:13) – Liz’s grandmother is in town, but when she suffers a heart attack Max come to her aid, raising Kyle’s suspicions that more is going on.

Disc 2

    5. Missing (42:12) – When Liz’s journal goes missing, there is a real risk that Max’s secret will get out. Can she recover the journal before it falls into the wrong hands?

    6. 285 South (1) (42:13) – Obsessed with a vision, Michael hijacks Maria’s car and heads south towards the home of a UFO theorist.

    7. River Dog (2) (41:44) – With suspicions that the government is closing in on them, Liz goes to a native Indian reservation to discover the truth about a possible surviving alien from the 1959 crash.

    8. Blood Brother (42:14) – When Max is injured in a car crash and taken to hospital, Liz enlists Alex’s help to cover up Max’s biology. But can she trust her childhood friend with such a big secret?

Disc 3

    9. Heat Wave (42:12) – With a heat wave in town, people are doing crazy things, with Maria and Michael getting together and Isabel entertaining fantasies about Alex.

    10. The Balance (40:42) – When Michael goes to the reservation he falls sick. Not knowing how to treat themselves when they are sick, Max returns to the reservation for answers.

    11. Toy House (41:25) – When Max saves his mother from a fireball in the kitchen, Isabel insists that they share the truth with their adopted family.

    12. Into The Woods (41:51) – After reports of a UFO crash, Max and the others use a school camping trip as cover to find out the truth. But with everybody in town coming along, will they be able to keep their secret safe before the government uncovers an link they may find to their heritage?

Disc 4

    13. The Convention (42:02) – With a UFO convention on in town, the reappearance of a couple who witnessed Max save Liz creates a further threat of discovery. But the real threat may be from an out-of-towner with connection to Valenti.

    14. Blind Date (42:12) – When Liz wins a blind date competition that Maria enters her into, Max gets drunk and shares his true feelings for Liz with Kyle. At the same time, Michael and Isabel attempt to contact the alien survivor.

    15. Independence Day (42:12) – When Max discovers that Michael is being abused by his foster father, they fear going to the authorities because their secret may be discovered.

    16. Sexual Healing (41:02) – As physical passion between Max and Liz gets heavy they each begin experiencing images from the other’s past.

Disc 5

    17. Crazy (42:15) – Agent Topolsky shows up again in Roswell in a deranged state babbling about government conspiracies and alien hunters. But can she be trusted? Or has she just lost her mind?

    18. Tess, Lies and Videotape (41:30) – The new girl at school, Tess, evokes strange feelings of passion in Max that he is powerless to control.

    19. Four Square (40:25) – Michael and Isabel are having strange dreams in which they are together, and Max finds himself still drawn to Tess.

    20. Max to the Max (40:04) – When a shape-shifting alien kidnaps Liz while masquerading as Max, it is up to the others to save her before Valenti and the government close in.

Disc 6

    21. The White Room (1) (41:52) – With Max in the hands of the government, can the others save him before he is brutally dissected?

    22. Destiny (2) (42:15) – The truth is revealed.

    While far from perfect, as a first season Roswell – Season 1 is first rate late night B-grade TV.

    Sure, Liz’s monologue voiceovers are a touch pretentious and a little irritating at times, and lack any of the charm of Kevin’s voiceovers for The Wonder Years. But that’s probably the worst thing I can say about this show when viewed in its proper context. I mean, without the first class writing of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer or the X-Files, this gets a little hit and miss, with some themes and issues that were never made the most of and a couple of relationships that walked in circles rather than fully developing. But this is really pitched at the 13-17 year old crowd and lacked the adult themes of the other shows I mention. Of course, I am viewing this in the context of having watched a whole series in a couple of weeks, whereas this would have been stretched over six months or so on general release.

    On its plus side, the production values are very good, the directing is always fairly on the money, and the acting was usually above average – although I think Emilie de Ravin steals the show in a lot of places as the little blonde temptress Tess, and William Sadler plays an excellent Sheriff wondering which side of the law to stay on. The writing is outstanding in parts and then flat in others and this kind of unevenness would plague the show in later seasons. But, again, for a first season there are more than enough sparks of genius here to hold your attention through 22 episodes.

    Just as an aside here, they have changed the music from the original TV release for music licensing reasons. While I can’t immediately spot the differences, somebody who has seen this show more often than I will probably pick the changes up. That said, I have seen this series once during its first run on TV and I found that there was no marked difference in the experience overall.

    So, if you like a bit of teen drama with a sci-fi mix, this is definitely one to check out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Although this was broadcast in 1.33:1 Full Frame, we have it presented here on DVD for the first time in its intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    While somewhat limited by its TV origins, this is nevertheless a fantastic transfer on the whole. Colours are well balanced and richly saturated. Shadow detail is exceptional.

    There is some mild graininess when you’re close up to it, but nothing worrisome.

    There was seriously nothing to talk about in the MPEG glitch and film-to-video transfer artefact department. There was the very occasional bit of background aliasing, but this really beats the pants off a lot of transfers of big budget films.

    The only troublesome thing here was in the film artefacts department. Although there was the odd dot of dirt, this is not what I am concerned about. During Chapter 8 of Leaving Normal I noticed a few odd missing frames. At first I thought this was my player, but I went back over those spots and they were still there. This is very minor and could just be a defect in the editing of the original, but I raise it here as a minor fault. A little less minor was the slight flickering / shakiness of the picture. Fox Home Entertainment did this a couple of times in The X-Files: Season 8, and I just put it down to really unsteady steady-cam work. But having now seen it here again I am wondering just how much effort Fox are putting into their video transfers. Instances of this can be seen at 9:08 - 10:02 during Blind Date and at 34:36 - 37:27 during Independence Day. Given both of these episodes are on Disc 4, it is possible that it is the disc not the transfer. But Fox should watch this problem as it’s not the first time I have seen it.

    Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired and French. They appear as white with a grey border and are easy to read. The English HI track follows the dialogue pretty closely.

    The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes.

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

Audio

    Along with a fully remastered video image, we also get a remastered soundtrack – the original English remixed in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, encoded at a full 448Kb/s. In addition to this we also have a French foreign language track, also mixed in 5.1 Dolby Digital, but encoded at a significantly lower rate of 384Kb/s.

    Dialogue is for the most part very good, although there is a faint drop out where the dialogue is almost lost at 7:46 during The White Room. There are no glaring sync problems.

    Fox have done a d*** good job here with creating a surround sound mix and we get some truly enveloping sequences. Check out the outdoor UFO crash festival during the series Pilot where you are surround by music, moving bodies, fireworks, all kinds of stuff. There are several examples of this detailed mixing during the season.

    There is a very good range here, and the theme song by Dido is given a nice remix with great bass. Plus, the original tunes chosen by the executive producer for the DVD release are worked into the mix very nicely.

    There is some fantastic subwoofer use here, and it can be really effective when well utilised. I could feel my ribcage rattling in a few places.

    Nice job for putting this series in 5.1 Dolby Digital, Fox – although it begs the question as to why other classic Fox series such as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and The X-Files are only released in 2.0 Dolby Surround on DVD...?

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

Extras

Menus

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are static shots from episodes. The disc home menus have the theme playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Episode Audio Commentaries

    There are audio commentaries on six episodes. Each commentary is presented in English 2.0 Dolby Surround, encoded at 192Kb/s.

Deleted Scene (Disc 1) (0:26)

    There is one deleted scenes from the pilot, presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Surround.

Featurette - “Area 51: Behind The Scenes of Roswell” (30:01) (Disc 7)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. A great look at the inception of the show and the themes behind its creation. Includes interviews with most of the cast and crew.

Featurette - “Roswell High: The Making of Roswell” (10:16) (Disc 7)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a look at the book series behind the show and how it went from text to the screen. Based around an interview with the creators of the original books.

Featurette - “Actor Auditions” (19:58)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, with pretty bad picture quality. These are two clips from the actor auditions for Emilie de Ravin who got the role of Tess:

Music Video - Sense Field, “Save Yourself” (3:15)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. Not bad, but the audio mix sounds a little off to me. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to the 5.1 Dolby Digital of the series.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I can tell, the R1 and R4 releases are identical except for the region coding and the picture format (PAL/NTSC).

Summary

    The first season of Roswell was, in many respects, its best season. That is not to say that the second season was not exceptional, but without this first season to set the groundwork, the second would have been a fair bit thinner.

    Video is very good with only a couple of minor faults.

    The sound is a great 5.1 Dolby Digital mix – why can’t Fox do this for all their series releases?

    The extras are comprehensive, often insightful, and on the whole very good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, July 26, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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