The Grid-Season 1 (2004)

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Released 21-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-Director and Executive Producer
Audio Commentary-Scene Specific - Actors
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Decoding The Grid
Featurette-VFX : Secrets of the Grid
Featurette-Race Against Time
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 252:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mikael Salomon
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Dylan McDermott
Julianna Margulies
Bernard Hill
Jemma Redgrave
James Remar
Piter Fattouche
Paula Devicq
Silas Carson
Olek Krupa
Alki David
Barna Moricz
Emil Marwa
Robert Forster
Case ?
RPI $35.95 Music Ramin Djawadi
Clay Duncan


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
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

    The cover for this UK/US co-production mini-series from 2004 includes the quote '24 meets Alias' which is really quite misleading and untrue. This doesn't mean that The Grid is not of good quality: it is just a very different style of production than those shows, which are much more about action and style rather than being about the story and the characters. Although there is a superficial similarity between them, once you get into The Grid it proves itself to be much more intelligent and thought provoking.

    The story plays out over 3 episodes on this release, although they were originally broadcast as 6 one hour episodes on US television. Each of the three episodes runs for approximately 84 minutes, entitled "Hours 1 & 2," "Hours 3 & 4" and "Hours 5 & 6". To my knowledge The Grid has not been broadcast on local television, although it may have been on Foxtel. The plot concerns a string of terrorist strikes around the world and a joint team from UK & US counter terrorism agencies created to investigate and shut down the terrorist group behind the actions. It starts with a bungled sarin gas attack in London resulting in the deaths of several people, including some of the terrorists. This event leads to the formation of a group by MI5, MI6, the CIA, FBI and National Security Council. Obviously, this causes inter-agency and inter-personal friction before the team settles down to focus on the task at hand.

    The main characters are:

    The strengths of this series lie in its interesting and well thought out plot, rounded characters on both sides of the war and quality production values and acting. This series was directed by Mikael Salomon, who also directed the highly regarded Band of Brothers and is an academy award nominated cinematographer. The acting is generally strong although Jemma Redgrave, Piter Marek, Silas Carson & Bernard Hill stand out. The well-known American leads do fine jobs, however, the cast members listed show more emotion and are more believable in their roles. This series also show the various motivations of people who become terrorists, not all religious fanatics or psychopaths. It is this even-handedness that really raises this series above more action based ones, such as those mentioned on the cover. Unlike many television shows, this series was shot mostly on location in Canada, Morocco & London. The Grid was nominated for two Emmys and one Golden Globe.

    The only real weaknesses was that the first episode was a little difficult to follow, attempting to introduce many characters quickly. However this soon settled down. Also, some viewers might be expecting more action due to the cover comparisons. The relative under-reliance on action allows for a better storyline to develop. Technically, some of the special effects were a bit obvious, which was probably a result of budget restrictions. The test discs refer to this as The Grid - Season 1. As far as I can tell there has been only one mini-series made and the version listed in online retailers is referred to as only The Grid.

     This series is excellent viewing if you don't go into it expecting an all-action fight against cliché terrorists. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but has some issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp, especially in the foregrounds, although the backgrounds lacked definition probably due to the relatively low bitrate of the transfer. The third episode (on the second disc) had a slightly higher bitrate but still averaged under 5 Mb/s. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was okay, but no better. Light background grain was generally present, which occasionally worsened into mild macro-blocking.

    The colour was quite good, although there was some chroma noise at times and some mild bleeding from light colours.

    Artefacts included occasional aliasing on car grilles, windows and other bits and pieces, plus some moire effect here and there, especially on television screens.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read. There was some summarisation, plus one or two errors (such as swapping SAS for MI6). There are also subtitles available for the commentary track. There were also burned-in subtitles for foreign language or heavily accented dialogue.

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s. This is not the most dynamic 5.1 track I have ever heard, however for a television show it is certainly above average.

    Dialogue was sometimes a little muffled, which made the subtitles useful, although it was mostly clear enough. Audio sync was an issue especially with the Arabic speakers.This seems to have been a problem with the source material. However, as the director and producer mention in their commentary, much of the Arabic dialogue was dubbed later due either to the actors not being proficient in Arabic or because they were advised that some of the dialogue they used could be considered blasphemous.

    The score for this series by Ramin Djawadi is very good indeed, adding significantly to the tension, drama and feel of the show. The middle eastern flavours in the score made it feel very authentic.

    The surround speakers added some directional effects and atmosphere without ever really surprising.

    The subwoofer was used a lot, adding tension rumbles and bass to the music, plus highlights to explosions and noisy cars.

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

Extras

    A good selection of extras are included although none of them could really be called essential.

Menu

    The menu was still and silent but did allow the ability to select episodes, scenes and subtitles.

Disc 1

Commentary - Hours 3 & 4 - Exec Producer - Tracey Alexander and Director - Mikael Salomon

    This commentary is for one of the three episodes only, however, it is of quite good quality. Both participants have interesting things to say covering the credit sequence, shooting difficulties, casting problems, the characters, research, the themes of the show, technical information, politics, gaffes and language issues. There are some pauses, but generally this track is worthwhile.

Scene Specific Commentaries - Hours 1 & 2 - Dylan McDermott (16:44) & Julianna Marguiles (19:21)

    The two American leads supply scene specific commentaries for scenes in which they feature during Hours 1 & 2. They are separate tracks on different scenes, which is why the run-times are different. McDermott is very dry, pauses too often and has very little of interest to say. Marguiles is certainly more relaxed and self-effacing, which makes her commentary more interesting, but still nothing special.

Deleted Scenes (4:36)

    This section includes 9 deleted scenes most of which are very short snippets rather than full scenes. None of them add much value.

Decoding The Grid (8:23)

    This featurette focuses on the themes and approach taken in the series and includes interviews with the director and Executive Producer. Topics covered include influences stylistically, the characters, research, development, scripting and the Muslim input they used. Not bad.

Disc 2

Scene Specific Commentaries - Hours 5 & 6 - Dylan McDermott (12:00) & Julianna Marguiles (13:26)

    The two American leads supply scene specific commentaries for scenes in which they feature during Hours 5 & 6. As above.

Deleted Scenes (3:13)

    This section includes 4 deleted scenes which are more interesting than those on Disc 1. The last one is certainly worth a look.

VFX : Secrets of The Grid (3:55)

    A short featurette about the special effects and how they were done.

Race Against Time (7:08)

    A decent featurette about the short shooting schedule and the problems they encountered along the way including weather, timing, budget and location issues.

 

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series is available in Region 1 with the same extras and a couple of extra subtitle options (French & Spanish). The local version would probably be a slightly different edit based upon what I can glean from the internet. Let's call it a draw.

Summary

    An intelligent and entertaining terrorism based television series that shows more depth in its characterisations than most.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a large collection of extras which are of mostly decent quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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