Hex-Complete First Season (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Brian Grant (Director) - Pilot
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|RPI||$49.95||Music||James Seymour Brett|
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Anyone who looks at my review list will know that I have a penchant for unconventional TV shows, everything from war drama, to crime thriller to science fiction, so long as they go beyond the norm. What do I mean by that? Well, in my opinion, the difference between mediocre television (most of the TV shows from the 1980s) and outstanding TV (The Shield, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, American Dad!, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) is that willingness to go to the very end in a dilemma.
Take an example: in an average episode of C.S.I., the investigators are presented with the evidence, they crunch the numbers, they are confused along the way by some clever criminals and some unusual facts, they solve the crime in superhuman time with some clever scientific solution, and everybody walks away. Then take The Shield – just how far will Vic go to secure the safety of his family and friends, and his immunity from justice while keeping the streets safe for law-abiding citizens? As far as he has to, and further than he thought he would. He will kill, torture, maim, deal drugs, terrorize, blackmail, extort and whatever else he has to do to get the job done. As such, C.S.I. achieves very good entertainment about protagonists overcoming obstacles that fit neatly into 45 minutes and is consumable by the masses. The Shield, on the other hand, explores human experience in a way that C.S.I. will never get close to, by placing its characters in moral dilemmas (that is, the characters have to choose, not merely overcome an obstacle), and then having them take their chosen path to the extreme end. In doing so, The Shield achieves something more.
Where does Hex sit on this scale? Much closer to The Shield than C.S.I.. As a result, it will never achieve mainstream time-slotting, but it will stand as something more than merely entertainment for those of us who like that type of thing.
Set in an exclusive art school in the UK, Hex is the story of Cassie (Christine Cole), a slightly geeky and outcast student who discovers she has supernatural powers after finding an ancient urn, only to be caught up in a centuries old war between good and evil, led by the charmingly malicious Azazeal (Michael Fassbender). With the help of her lesbian friend Thelma (Jemima Rooper), Cassie attempts to survive with her sanity in tact.
A complete episode breakdown would be a disservice to you, dear reader, so I won’t waste your time and give anything away for you. If you want a full season rundown you can find one at TV.com amongst other places. The first season is split across its 3 discs as follows:
Although this only runs two seasons (and I can’t wait for the second season to come out here – please hurry, Sony Pictures), it’s an undeniably powerful and well done show. There is very little at all to criticise about this show. The acting is, without exception, fabulous. Some real work has gone into casting the right person for the right role, with excellent recurring side characters, like the ostensibly ‘perfect guy’ Troy (Joseph Morgan), the delightfully b****y Roxanne (Amber Sainsbury) and Gemma (Zoe Tapper), and the unashamedly sleazy Leon (Jamie Davis).
Another wonderful aspect of this show is just how frank and open it is about sex and sexuality. Far more aware of its sexuality that any other supernatural show that I’ve seen (the US shows of this nature usually come off being sleazy when they try this approach), rather than being crass or exploitative, this becomes a very important aspect of the show, and as such addresses issues of sexual liberty, sexual frustration, sexual exploitation and the consequences of sexuality in ways that other shows don’t even come close to.
But best of all, this show has a wicked sense of humour while quite often being utterly terrifying. Far scarier than a lot of other so-called “chillers”, this show has more than enough to give you the creeps, but can break that mood with some perfectly timed and truly hilarious comedy. Jemima Rooper is particularly good at this in her role as Thelma.
If you’re tired of the highly Americanised cliché-saturated garbage that pours out of your TV screen most of the time, I highly recommend this show as a wonderful example of how, when the Brits get it right, they so get it right. Grab a copy now.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is a slight modification from the original aspect ratio for the series which is 1.85:1.
Unfortunately, this is not the best transfer I have seen of late, largely owing, I believe, to trying to cram too much information onto what are apparently single layer discs (either that, or the dual layer pauses are incredibly well hidden).
The major issue with this transfer is graininess, particularly in shadowy scenes. Part of this is doubtless the film stock, but part of it I'm sure is also the transfer.
The image is reasonably well defined, but shadow detail is also slightly off, and this can result in a slightly murky image at times.
I noticed no horrendous compression artefacts or film-to-video transfer artefacts other than some minor background aliasing. But it is evident that this is not a high bitrate transfer.
Subtitles are available in English only. They are white with a grey border, easy to read, and follow the dialogue fairly closely, although not verbatim.
These appear to be single layer discs, except for Disc 1 where the pilot episode appears to be on one layer, and the extras on another layer.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, audio is reasonably good, although hardly benchmark.
Having been exposed to the soundfields on DVD transfers for other TV series, like Over There and the later seasons of Stargate, this is starting to look a little less than pristine.
Certainly, dialogue is well rendered. I had no difficulty discerning what was being said.
The front surrounds got a bit of action, but the rears remained fairly dormant, generally only coming to life with the score.
At times the music seemed to be only in stereo, despite the flagged 5.1 Dolby Digital.
The subwoofer got barely any action at all.
Overall, not the best audio transfer I've heard of late, but it's not a bad transfer either, bearing in mind this is a TV show with a fairly limited budget.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack that seemed extremely loud after the 5.1 of the show.
Presented in 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a decent and informative commentary by director Brian Grant that talks a lot about the choices of the show and the stories behind it. There aren’t many quiet periods, and that’s good.
Presented in 1.78:1, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is another excellent featurette that goes behind the making of the show and is not merely promotional.
Presented in 1.78:1, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, all of these were rightfully cut, but it’s interesting to see them now.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
At the time of publishing this review, there was no current (or, to my knowledge, planned) release for R1 for this DVD set. The US do not know what they’re missing out on.
Hex is probably the best supernatural “chiller” I have seen since the Buffy era ended. Far better than Supernaturals, I highly recommend this for those who like great storytelling that is not run-of-the-mill. While not a perfect DVD transfer, there is nothing overly wrong with it, and in this instance it is definitely more about the story. Grab a copy now.
|DVD||Momitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-HS50 WXGA LCD Cineza Projector with 100" Longhorn Pro-series 16:9 Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Digital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer|