Over There-Season 1 (2005)

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Released 31-May-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Various Cast & Crew - 3 Episodes
Featurette-Weapons Debriefng
Featurette-Tour Of Duty: Filming Over There
Web Links
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 552:06
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Chris Gerolmo
Greg Yaitanes
Nelson McCormick
Mikael Salomon
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Josh Henderson
Luke MacFarlane
Erik Palladino
Keith Robinson
Sticky Fingaz
Lizette Carrion
Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak
Nicki Aycox
Omid Abtahi
Brigid Brannagh
Sprague Grayden
Lombardo Boyar
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Chris Gerolmo
Alec Puro
Edward Rogers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, on each episode during end credits.

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

Plot Synopsis

“All you can hope for is to not do what you can’t live with having done.”

    The history of conflict in Iraq is a fascinating topic spanning back a millennia, if not longer – a complex web of competing ethnic divisions and religious indoctrination. The more modern history of US intervention in Iraq is also fascinating subject matter, involving all kinds of twists and turns, allegiances and betrayals, and changing political alliances. The March 2003 invasion of Iraq by “The Coalition of the Willing” was internationally divisive and as yet unresolved. The justifications for doing so are and remain in question, so much so that one US General was recently quoted as saying words to the effect of “What the hell were we doing? We had Al Qaeda holed up in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then we go a thousand miles away to Iraq where bin Laden was once allegedly seen?” Three years later, and the Coalition’s occupational forces are still there, still fighting, in what is an ever more complex internal armed struggle.

    In 2004, a year after the invasion, Steve Bochco (creator of such shows as N.Y.P.D. Blue and Commander In Chief) and Chris Gerolmo (writer of Mississippi Burning) got together and conceived of a show based around the US occupational forces in Iraq. Bochco was sceptical of the project, far too afraid of casting aspersions about whether or not the invasion itself was a good idea, which would merely serve to inflame debate and kill the show before it could make any headway. In 2005, the project came back to the table, and this time the decision was made to concentrate only on a squad fighting the insurgency, and what it’s like to be an American soldier in the Middle East with a job to do.

    The product of the collaboration between Bochco and Gerolmo is undoubtedly the duo’s crowning achievement – Over There. I must confess from the outset that I am not a fan of Bochco’s other shows. I thought N.Y.P.D. Blue was weak and formulaic, and I think Commander In Chief has some of the worst dialogue and acting I’ve seen in a “ratings winner” for some time. But, then, I am of the opinion that Prison Break is appalling. Coming from that background, Over There is surprisingly insightful, well made, and brilliantly acted.

    The show follows the trials of a squad of men sent to Iraq a year into the occupation:

    Accompanying the men are two female soldiers who provide support to the platoon, but are unable to serve on the frontline under Army regulations (although in a war of this nature, they often find themselves on the front line):

    Over there, in Iraq, the men meet their Staff Sergeant, Chris “Scream” Silas, a hard as nails non-commissioned officer with 13 years in the army, and only 90 days to go. And, after their disastrous first week, they are joined by Pvt. Tariq Nassiri (Omid Abtahi), an Arab-American soldier from Detroit.

    All 13 episodes of Over There are on these four discs. I do not intend to give you a full run down of each episode, mostly because I don’t want to spoil things for you. You can get complete summaries at TV.com amongst other places:

Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

Disc 4

    Sadly, we critics are apparently a high-minded bunch, because although this show was an out-and-out critical success, it was not renewed for a second season, and these 13 episodes are all that will exist of this show. I, for one, am extremely disappointed by this decision, but hardly surprised. A show like this, so far ahead of its time, and so confronting, is only ever appreciated in retrospect.

    I guess I can understand in some respects. Viewers inundated with CNN footage of the war are unlikely to want to watch a drama about the war as well. But this also shows a lack of foresight and introspection. Shows like this will stand as a testament as to how people thought about and reacted to the war, and are a good way to help people understand the perspective of the soldiers and their families at home. It puts a human face on things, and it does it with skill and respect.

    The other strength of Over There is its ability to tell a story so well. Much like L. Travis Clark’s Vietnam-war drama Tour Of Duty (1987 - 1990), Over There is subtly anti-war by showing the excitement and bonds of war, but also showing its terrifying and pointless aspects. It never succumbs to the didactic tactics of lesser war movies and television series, and allows the viewer to ultimately make up their own minds about warfare, and this type of warfare in particular, while in most respects leaving value judgments about whether or not this war was a good idea well and truly out of question.

    I cannot give this show a high enough recommendation. Brilliant in every way, I can only hope that it sells enough DVDs so that the studio rethinks this cancellation and lets Bochco and Gerolmo continue with this challenging show. If we, the viewers, are lucky enough, we may just get to see what happens to Sgt. “Scream” and his squad...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Shot on 16mm film, mastered in HD for broadcast, and transferred here in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is a flawless transfer. I have not seen a transfer this good since the transfer for the second season of The O.C..

    While the 16mm gives the image a touch of graininess, the post-production digital mastering all but eliminates this. As a result, the picture is smooth and astoundingly clean.

    Colour saturation and balance are amazing, and some very interesting use of colour and lighting is made here. Scenes shot in the United States are clean and gleaming. Those in Iraq are dull, oppressive, and almost monochrome.

    Shadow detail is excellent.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and no film-to-video transfer artefacts.

    There is no dirt on the print.

    Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired. They are white with a black/grey border and quite accurate.

    All four discs are dual layered. There appear to be 2 visible dual layer pauses – one comes at 21:10 during I Want My Toilets on Disc 2, the other comes at 39:29 during Spoils Of War on Disc 3. Both are during scene changes and are barely noticeable. The dual layer changes on Discs 1 and 4 are not visible.

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

Audio

    Audio is available in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround encoded at 448Kb/s. It’s pretty outstanding.

    Dialogue is flawless, clear, and easily understood. I noticed no sync faults, despite the many outdoor scenes.

    Range is outstanding, and there are a lot of surround cues.

    The outstanding music for this show (hell, even the theme grows on you after a while) is masterfully mixed and highly effective.

    Subwoofer use is plentiful and outstanding.

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

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menus have an intro and a 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio soundtrack. The other menus are static and silent.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary: “Pilot” by Chris Gerolmo (Writer, Co-Creator, Director) and Joan Gerolmo

    Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, this is a commentary track worth listening to – quite the rarity.

Featurette: “Weapons Debriefing” (5:39)

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, this is an interesting look at the weapons used by the soldiers and the insurgents by the show’s armourer.

DVD-ROM

    Links to the Fox Studios website.

Disc 2

Audio Commentary: “It’s All Right Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” by Staff Sgt. Sean Bunch and Sam Sako (Iraq Advisor)

    Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, this is another good commentary track.

DVD-ROM

    Links to the Fox Co UK website and the Fox International website.

Disc 3

Audio Commentary: “Spoils Of War” by the main cast

    Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, this commentary track is fun, if a little directionless and aimless at times.

DVD-ROM

    Links to the Fox Co UK website and the Fox International website.

Disc 4

Featurette: “Tour Of Duty: Filming Over There” (77:00)

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, this is one of the best “making of” featurettes I’ve seen.

DVD-ROM

    Links to the Fox Studios website.

R4 vs R1

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

    I do not have an R1 copy for an exact comparison, but from what I can tell the content is identical, aside from the NTSC picture format and the region coding. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

    Over There is one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen, right up there with The Wire, The Shield, Sopranos and Deadwood. If you’re a fan of any of those shows, I recommend that you do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this. You won’t be disappointed.

    The DVD set is excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, June 04, 2006
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)
Chris Gerolmo - wolfgirv
Engageing the TV drama. - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED