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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

My Name is Earl Season Four (The Final Season) [Blu-ray]

 

(Greg Garcia, et al, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Amigos de Garcia & Fox Television

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: 520 min

Chapters: 27

Size: BD-50

Case: English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

Release date: September 15th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 18 Mbps

 

Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Deleted Scenes

• Gag Reel

• Earl's Fan Mail

• 2 the Max

 

 

The Film:

The Movie: 7
Starting with the fourth and final season of this broad, yet wry little comedy – a sort of Li’l Abner meets Raising Arizona – Fox does the Blu-ray thing for a show that has already made its presence known on DVD. The Blu-ray has the advantage of a better picture and sound, but the extra features are the same.

I haven’t been following Earl’s kharmic adventures from the beginning, but I gather from the evidence of these discs and reviews of past series that this season, even though the final one, is as good a place as any to get into the show. All you need to know is the set-up, thus this clip from Brian Lowry’s 2005 review in Variety:

A quickly paced montage augmented by star Jason Lee's aw-shucks voiceover presents Earl as a thieving, lying, hard-drinking bottom-dweller with a brother (Ethan Suplee) who's at least as big a blight on humanity and an ex-wife (Jaime Pressly) who tricked him into marrying her during a drunken stupor. In one of those life-changing moments that Earl takes as a sign from a higher power, he scratches a winning lottery ticket only to abruptly (and pretty hilariously, with "I'm a Loser" playing in the background) misplace it, which briefly lands him in the hospital. Watching TV in bed, NBC's own latenight guru, Carson Daly, introduces Earl to the meaning of karma, inspiring his self-appointed mission to do right by all those he wronged in the past as his "road map to a better life." - BL

Excerpt of review from Variety located HERE


 

Image: 9/9   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

It often comes as quite a shock to me that television comedies are produced with sufficient care that a
Blu-ray image brings it to life that network broadcast only hints at, even when shown in hi-def. I exaggerate, but still it does give me pause. It shouldn’t, though. Your average comedy isn’t put through the processing wringer so all it needs to be is lit and shot with a professional eye – and we should all be the beneficiaries.

So what’s not to like here: Despite lowish bit rates (in the upper teens) color, flesh tones, contrast, black levels – all have a dynamic presentation. Some high values get some edging effects and a little ringing, possibly related to occasional oversharpening and contrast and color boosting, but nothing that detracts, especially given the earnest nature of the material.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/8
So what do we have here: a situation comedy, which means dialogue, music, ambiance and some effects. Dialogue is placed properly and is clear enough if you're hankerin' for the manner of speakin’. Ambient sounds are often faithfully caught, though the surrounds aren’t as eagerly involved. Music is lively, if sometimes a little low-key (I liked it, so I wanted to hear it.)
 

Operations: 7
I like that the Deleted Scenes are retained on the disc were the relevant episode sits. Nothing else remarkable to report.

 

 

 

Extras: 2
Not a whole lot going on here, and what there is has already shown up on the DVD. I didn’t really expect anything new. This is not Lost, after all. Deleted scenes – all very short and in SD - appear for the episodes on the specific disc – very sensible. “Earl’s Fan Mail” is the one solid extra in the set, amounting to about a half hour of questions from fans read by the production crew and responded to by cast and crew. For some reason, I thought of Dave Letterman's Top Ten segments.

 

Bottom line: 7
My Name is Earl is a curious series. It doesn't make complete jerks out of its characters, which is refreshing in today's comedy climate. On the other hand, some of the characterizations get a tiresome - or maybe that's just the effect of watching several episodes back to back. The image is super, the extra features are not. Recommended on Bu-ray if you are unacquainted with the series and, of course, for the fan who must have the best rendering.

Leonard Norwitz
October 6th, 2009

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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