Tru Calling-Season 1: Part 1 (2003)

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Released 9-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers' And Actors - Pilot & The Longest Day
Audio Commentary-Jon Hardman Feldman (Creator/Exec. Prod.) - Star Crossed
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 498:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bryan Spicer
David Barrett
Guy Norman Bee
Sanford Bookstaver
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Eliza Dushku
Shawn Reaves
Zach Galifianakis
A.J. Cook
Jessica Collins
Benjamín Benítez
Matthew Bomer
Jason Priestley
Cotter Smith
Liz Vassey
Eric Christian Olsen
Lizzy Caplan
John Reardon
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Robert Duncan
Jon Ehrlich
Avril Lavigne


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
Swedish
English 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

    Fox Studios is developing a very bad reputation for cutting down outstanding TV shows in their prime. First it was James Cameron's Dark Angel, barely permitted to live out its second season. Then it was Joss Wheedon's brilliant sci-fi western Firefly, which was barely given a chance with its thirteen episodes (though thanks to Wheedon's own efforts will once more see the light of day on the big screen in Serenity). Now it has given the axe to another outstanding pseudo-science-fiction cum horror series, Tru Calling. And this from the studio that spawned the cult classic The X-Files, which really did not make any significant ripples until its third season.

    So what was this show about?

    Basically, it follows the life of Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku), who is forced to work at the city morgue to get credit towards a medical degree. While working late at night, Tru is thrown back in time when a corpse suddenly springs to life and asks her for help. In order to progress to the next day, she finds that she has to save the person who asked for her help. With her dysfunctional brother Harrison (Shawn Reaves), and drug-addicted lawyer sister Meredith (Jessica Collins), and no parents to help her, she finds that she not only has to watch over her family on her 're-lived' day, but she also has to keep her secret so as not to be condemned to an asylum, while still managing to save the person who died.

    However, she has help, in the form of her boss, Davis (Zach Galifianakas), the city mortician, whose job it is to establish the cause of death of those who die unnaturally in the city. He readily believes in Tru, although everybody else thinks she is nuts. Of course, we find out that he has reasons of his own.

    And just when you think everything is settling in a rhythm, along comes the unusual Jack Harper (Jason Priestley) who seems to have his own special connection with the dead...

    The following is a description of how these episodes are split up over the 8 discs that form seasons 1 and 2. Bear in mind that Season 1 is split into two parts of 3 discs each, and Season 2 consists of only 2 discs. I have not summarised the episodes, as to do so would spoil much of the fun. But if you must have a summary, you can find one at TV.com amongst other places.

Season 1: Part One

Disc 1

    1. Pilot (41:16)     2. Putting Out Fires (41:26)     3. Brother’s Keeper (41:57)     4. Past Tense (41:29)

Disc 2

    5. Haunted (41:35)     6. Star Crossed (42:01)     7. Morning After (41:31)     8. Closure (41:03)

Disc 3

    9. Murder In The Morgue (41:32)     10. Reunion (41:59)     11. The Longest Day (42:29)     12. Valentine (41:16)

Season 1: Part Two

Disc 4

    13. Drop Dead Gorgeous (42:00)     14. Daddy’s Girl (42:29)     15. The Getaway (42:01)

Disc 5

    16. Two Pair (42:29)     17. Death Becomes Her (42:29)     18. Rear Window (42:15)

Disc 6

    19. D.O.A. (42:30)     20. Two Weddings And A Funeral (42:28)

Season 2

Disc 1

    1. Perfect Storm (42:29)     2. Grace (42:29)     3. In The Dark (42:31)     4. The Last Good Day (42:33)

Disc 2

    5. Enough (42:28)     6. Twas The Night Before Christmas ... Again (42:34)

    This is fantastic TV that began to really mould itself into something special before its axing.

    The truly great thing about Tru Calling is that it really does involve you in the plot of the show. Unlike CSI and its myriad of spin-offs, you as the viewer are not placed in the same position as the investigators. With Tru Calling, you relive the days with Tru, and so the facts of the mystery are, generally, already in your hands.

    Tru Calling comes with the reappearance of another underrated actor, Jason Priestley - unfairly black-labelled after his involvement in Spelling's infamous Beverly Hills: 90210. Much older, and considerably less lean, Priestley seems to have taken some time off to radically improve his acting skills, because he is good. Gone is the pretty-boy of 90210, and in his place is a brooding, multi-faceted, highly flexible actor that fits smoothly into a great character that seems to be written for him.

    The 3 discs that are the subject of this review encompass episodes 1 - 12 (as set out above). These are a fairly strong grounding for the series, with only a few rough episodes, and the obviously bad posing of the Pilot episode done away with.

    So, if Tru Calling is so good, why did it get the axe?

    Many have levelled criticisms at this show without much basis. Others have stipulated that the show initially garnered a negative response from viewers because its star, the underrated Eliza Dushku, passed up a continuation of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer to take up a role in this show. My own feeling on the matter is that it just came about at the wrong time, and was simply too expensive to produce for the profit margins of the studio.

    When, at the end of the day, it's cheaper to produce God awful reality TV, such as The Simple Life, that will still pull ratings regardless, it's no wonder that so many shows premised on excellent ideas and great script writing are going the way of the dinosaur. The studios are, at the end of the day, businesses that are answerable to shareholders. And why should a little thing like art or creativity get in the way of something as important as money?

    For my own two cents, I am starting to wonder whether declining ratings on shows like this are not some larger symptom of the home cinema revolution. When audiences know that they can readily pick up a whole season's worth of a TV show at their leisure on DVD, the incentive to watch it episode by episode begins to dwindle. Instead the mentality of "I can always watch it later" begins to set in.

    Perhaps, then, it is time for the broadcasters to switch tack, and provide, instead, for a means of direct downloading of entire seasons of TV via broadband cable for which the subscriber pays on a download basis. While free-to-air can remain saturated with reality TV garbage, studios can instead market shows direct to individual viewers on a user pays basis. In this way, subscribers would be ensured of watching what they want, when they want, how they want and supply and demand can instead dictate the survival of a show or not. I can't help but think that had more viewers been able to watch this series in one long gulp that it would still be going strong.

    But maybe such a(n) (r)evolution is beyond the dinosaur thinking of such studios, and perhaps, then, they should flounder in the mindless banality of reality TV on their inevitable path towards extinction, crushing out one species after another of small screen creativity as they fall.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Initially broadcast in Australia in Widescreen High Definition, we are given a decent transfer here preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Sadly, this transfer does not approach an HD transfer, with far more graininess than was present when broadcast on TV. This is a shame, and also rather inexcusable, especially when studios like Warner Home Video are doing wonderful transfers of shows like The Sopranos and Carnivale that, while still not quite HD, are certainly comparable when upscaled to 720p. I am being a little petty here, because most viewers will not notice the difference. On a 40 inch screen using regular 480p (that’s regular progressive scan) the graininess is fairly mild. But it can be a little distracting on a larger screen.

    Other than the graininess issue, though, I have very little to say. Colour was very well saturated, and nicely balanced. It lacked the gloss of more recent cinema transfers, but we are still talking television here.

    Thanks in large part to its HD origins, we have only the most minimal of background aliasing here as anything else to complain about. There are no MPEG artefacts, or any other film-to-video transfer artefacts.

    There were a number of noticeable film artefacts, from lines down the screen to the odd hair, which I found odd for a series of this age. Nothing horrendous, but still there if you’re susceptible to being distracted by such artefacts.

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

    The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, even where there are only 3 episodes per disc.

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

Audio

    The audio is limited to a fairly stock-standard English 2.0 Dolby Surround track encoded at 192Kb/s.

    Dialogue is excellent, with great clarity and no detectable sync faults.

    Given its 2.0 Surround nature, sound is almost entirely front driven, with minimal noise from the rears, and no real enveloping surround presence.

    The range, however, is very good, and the front driven field has plenty of fidelity – enough to upset my neighbours on several occasions, particularly the music which has a very engrossing rhythm.

    There is some redirection here to the subwoofer, but that is largely due to my set up. There is no independent signal going to the sub.

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 of one of the characters in a pose. The disc home menus have the theme playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Episode Audio Commentaries

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

    Audio commentaries are a bit of a mixed bag, and these commentaries are no exception to the rule. They are all a bit rambling, but the one for the pilot episode is probably the best given that it is by the cast and crew, not merely the creator of the show.

Deleted Scenes

    There are deleted scenes for the following episodes. Each deleted scene is presented in 1.78:1, non-16x9 enhanced, English 2.0 Dolby Stereo with optional commentary.

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 in context (barring the region coding and the picture format) except that the R1 release is a 6 disc set encompassing the whole first season in one go, rather than splitting it down the middle.

    As for picture quality, without a direct comparison it is hard to tell. Certainly, a lot of R1 transfers have been trumping R4 transfers in picture quality as of late (at least in my experience). But if someone out there knows more than I do about the audio/visual quality of the R1 release, and has comparable equipment, please let me know your thoughts.

Summary

    The first half of the first season of Tru Calling gets the show off to a good start, but the second half really gets the show into full swing with the introduction of Jack Harper.

    The video is grainer than I would have liked for an HD source, but still quite good.

    Sadly, I thought more work could have been done on the sound.

    There are plenty of extras, but I felt that they did not give me any more insight into the show.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, September 19, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS50 LCD Cineza Projector with HP 80" Widescreen (16:9) HDTV Mobile Projector Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersDigital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Go for the R2 boxset, the R4 pricing is a rip off! -
Why it was cancelled - Neil
re: Why it was cancelled - Shane A