Sleeper Cell (2005)

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Released 17-Aug-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Trailer-Stander, The Wild Geese, Red Dust, Zulu Dawn, James Dean
Trailer-Michael Jordan: To The Max, Loverboy, Ashanti
Featurette-"Know Your Enemy"
Featurette-Making Of-The Series Finale: A Production Diary Documentary
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 534:00 (Case: 532)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ziad Doueiri
Guy Ferland
Nick Gomez
Leon Ichaso
Studio
Distributor
Showtime
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Alex Nesic
Blake Shields
Melissa Sagemiller
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Mike Greene
Paul Haslinger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sleeper Cell is a made for cable miniseries that aired on Showtime. This type of show is the perfect justification for shelling out hard earned dollars for cable TV. With only 10 episodes (longer than most shows though, 50+ minutes each as opposed to network TV's approximate 40 minutes) it's one of the most engaging pieces of drama that I have ever seen on the small screen.

    After having heard many comparisons between Sleeper Cell and 24, I was expecting a fast paced, totally implausible and emotionally void show. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy 24 in a guilty pleasure, embarrassing kind of way.) But I was blown away at how Sleeper Cell grabs viewers and literally glues you to the screen. It is relatively slow paced, but the intensity keeps building episode by episode as you wonder at how (or if) the myriad of problems are going to be resolved.

    The premise of the show is a sleeper cell in Los Angeles (why is it always LA?) that has been infiltrated by an FBI long-term undercover agent posing as an Islamic extremist. Instead of stereotypes, clichés and one dimensional baddies, the show manages to show emotional depth and insight not often found in modern television entertainment.

    I'm hesitant to say too much about what happens in the show as it'd spoil it to go into too much detail. It's a credit to the script that viewers can actually relate to and like key members of the cell. Oded Fehr (best known from The Mummy movies) is brilliant as the cold and ruthless cell leader posing as a strict Jewish security consultant as his cover. Hopefully this role will lead to a lot more work for him. The other cell members range from a confused blonde-haired American who thinks jihad is cool to a former Yugoslavian whose family members died of genocide due to anti-Muslim sentiment. Michael Ealy plays the anguished undercover agent Darwyn Al-Hakim, an American Muslim who loathes the ideology and actions of extremists who claim to speak for his religion. I was impressed with his performance too. What show would be complete without a love interest? Melissa Sagemiller plays a young single mother that Darwyn meets at a picnic held by one of the cell members. At first I wondered why she was in the show as it seemed to steer away from the cell element and flow of the show. Let's just say that her curiosity causes problems.

    The show brings many different elements and themes together to be an extremely entertaining modern thriller. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category. According to IMDB, a 2nd season is in the works.

    Highly recommended.

    I have not included episode descriptions because of the nature of the show and the potential spoilers. Spoiler filled episode descriptions can be found at www.tv.com

    Disc 1

    101 - Al-Fatiha (56:36)

    102 - Target (51:34)

   Disc 2

   103 - Money (55:19)

    104 - Scholar (54:49)

    105 - Soldier (54:45)

    Disc 3

    106 - Family (51:12)

    107 - Immigrant (55:09)

    108 - Intramural (55:06)

    Disc 4

    109 - Hijack (48:26)

    110 - Youmud Din (49:44)

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The disc is presented in PAL, 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Shot in HD this show looks fantastic. It's an impressive transfer and is really the standard for what current TV show transfers should be.

    The image is sharp and crystal clear. Shadow detail is pretty good. Grain is generally not an issue, but can sometimes creep into darker shots.

    Colours look really good. Lighting has been used to great dramatic effect. Skin tones are natural looking and there is no sign of colour bleeding.

    Edge enhancement is nowhere to be seen.

    There are no MPEG artefacts.

    Disappointingly, there are no subtitles at all. Why are there no subtitles for the Hearing Impaired?

    In short, this transfer is a pleasure to watch.

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

Audio

    The main audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) track.

    The dialogue comes through clearly. There are no audio sync or click/dropout issues.

    The soundtrack works well with the show and adds a lot to the mood, whether it be sombre or dramatic.

    For a TV show it does have a pretty good 5.1 track. Dialogue is centre speaker heavy, but the music and effects give the surrounds a decent workout.

    The subwoofer does get used, but not as much as you might expect.

    There is also an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) track.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Disc 1

Commentary: Al Fatiha

    Commentary by executive producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. Very informative and more enjoyable than most.

Trailers

    Stander, The Wild Geese, Red Dust, Zulu Dawn, James Dean, Michael Jordan: To the Max, LoverBoy, Ashanti

Disc 2

Commentary: Scholar

    Executive producers joined by writer Kamran Pasha. Insightful track.

Disc 4

Featurette-Know Your Enemy (15:19)

    Very promotional and shallow, but I liked the show so I didn't mind it.

Featurette-Making Of Series Finale: A Production Diary (61:49)

    Hosted by the executive producers this is a very in-depth look at the finale. Be warned..... DO NOT watch this before you see the finale otherwise you'll see more than you want to.

Interviews-Cast & Crew

    I was really interested in the interviews until I realised they are audio podcasts. The content is fine, but I would rather listen to a podcast on my iPod than watch a static TV screen whilst listening to the audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    R1 beats out our R4 version.

    The R1 has 27 minutes worth of deleted scenes with optional commentary. R4 has no deleted scenes.

    The R1 also has cast bios that the R4 doesn't.

Summary

    An excellent series. I strongly recommend it.

    The video is very good.

    The audio is excellent.

    Special features are good too.

    Get this set now!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Smith (boku no bio)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV4300, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer
SpeakersDB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub

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