Girls 10 Episodes, 2 BluRay Discs Video is 1080P @ AWBR of 32Mb DTS-MA 5.1, DTS 5.1 (French), DTS 2.0 (Spanish) 1 DVD (Dual Sided) Digital Copy (Itunes) Street Date: December 11, 2012 Story: I haven’t met someone who has a vague opinion of HBO’s Girls. The opinions run the gambit from “this show is a terrible road to nowhere” (Mother Jones does a blistering attack), to Hollywood Reporter and The Times referring to it as “brilliant, wildly funny”. I have rarely met anyone who watched the series who came down in the middle and said “eh, it’s Ok I guess”. Shows that tend to inspire significant backlash are the kind of shows I wish there were more of on TV. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is any good, it does mean that it’s doing something different than other shows. Written and directed by lead actor Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), Girls really focuses in on a small world of a group of friends who have known each other through college and now face the reality of trying to make it in New York City. Dunham plays Hannah Horvath, a hopeful writer who is clearly stuck with a tin ear for knowing what to say to the people around her. Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels is her roommate.. stuck in a relationship that seems to have become far too safe for her; there isn’t a risk or “fun” factor there. That thread follows through the season. But to me, the real standouts are the lesser characters. Zosia Mamet, yes, daughter of David Mamet who plays Shoshana Shapiro, a 22 year old virgin who suffers from anxiety problems and an almost obsessive desire to figure out what’s wrong with herself.. and how to make it right. Adam Driver plays Adam Sackler, Hannah’s slacker lover, sometimes carpenter, maybe mentally unbalanced actor. There are a few step ins for minor roles, like Chris O’Dowd (from “The IT Crowd”, “Bridesmaids) and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon) who turn in great performances in bit parts. Nominated for five Emmy Awards this year (and winning one, “Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series), Girls delivers a comedy that only HBO could find a home. Issues addressed in episodes range from: how to get dressed for a friends abortion, the joy of a quickie, helping your boyfriend masturbate through demeaning talk, and chasing down an which ex may have given you HPV, Girls definitely doesn’t shy away from real topics. The question of course is whether or not it’s funny or not while it does it. I have to say, when I first watched this series I have up after the second episode when it aired. Watching through it today on Blu-Ray, I have to admit that this series reminds me so much of someone I met at a job I worked this year that a rewatch changed by view. I have come to realize people like this actually do exist and with that in mind, the weird self-centered narcissism that goes on in this show can be wildly funny as an outsider. In fact, some of the early criticism of this show – specifically that there are no African American characters just makes me laugh in watching the series again.. of course there are no African American characters, all of these characters in the show stay so close to home and grouse around their odds of actually meeting anyone is near non-existent and the show plays up this weird bubble of a life that the characters lead. Hannah pronounces herself the “potential voice of our generation” and yet she stays away from talking to anyone or experiencing life in any meaningful way. If you watched Girls and loved it, BOY is this set for you. If you hated it pass. If you have not seen the show, I’d strongly recommend renting this or finding a way to watch before you buy, because I doubt you’ll feel indifferent to a show that is easily the riskiest show on HBO in regards to sexual content right now. Let's just say we got off to a great start from the beginning: Video Quality: 5/5 (HD), 4/5 (DVD) The set comes with 2 Blu-Ray dual layer discs and the Blu-Ray quality is exceptional. I mean, over the top exceptional. I still have several of the episodes on my DVR and the back and forth tells me HBO has absolutely stepped up the game for this Blu-Ray release. Part of it is how exceptional the video quality really is on this disc. The blacks are inky black and the bitrate is skyrocket high. Most episodes are at an AWBR with a high of 38Mbs and averaging around 32Mbs. Obviously filmed in digital, this set looks beautiful, stunning for a TV production. Let’s just say, the women of the show are absolutely done a service by how well they appear in this set. The set also comes with a DVD copy – a single disc DVD dual sided which contains the content. Please note, the DVD does not include all of the special features. I just did a flash through the DVD after watching through the Blu and the DVD is definitely a letdown compared to the Blu-Ray. If you want to watch this, you really should see it in High Definition. I’ve tried to take some comparison shots below to give you an idea of the Blu VS the DVD. Blu DVD Audio Quality: 5/5 (BD) I judge audio by how well it presents the content as it’s supposed to be. I did a quick back and forth between the Bluray and my DVR recordings (in Dolby Digital 5.1) and the soundtrack also stepped the expectations up a notch. Ambient sounds come off very well on my home theater, and dialog is crisp and clear. But what helps make the soundtrack work is that when there are moments of city traffic or a party, noises are appropriately placed and it adds to the overall feel of the discs. Extras 5/5 .. can I give a 6/5? For a short run series, HBO has absolutely outdone themselves. In every possible way, the Girls 3 pack sets a standard for how extras on a series should be arranged. Straight out of the box, you receive you get a nice slip case containing your two blu-ray discs, a separate sleeve containing one dual-sided DVD, and a printed booklet containing information about the series. This booklet contains notes, photos and a diary of the happenings on the set. It’s a very nice touch. The extras themselves. All extras are in 1080P, AVC, DTS Every episode has a 2-3 minute “Inside the Episode” short which explains the writing process of the episode. Disc 1: Commentary during Episode 1 (Pilot) A Conversation With the Girls, 21:32 – sets of interviews with the cast about what brought them into the project. Worth a watch. Deleted Scenes: Episode 1 Deleted Scenes: Girls Team - :36 – are you on the team or not? Marnie lectures Hannah about what it takes to be a team player Doves Kill Babies – 2:01 – Marnie’s new job in PR leads to her fielding a phone call about a potential PR problem when they find dead birds on client site. She explains to the reporter that doves kill babies. Episode 2 Deleted Scenes: Hannah Talks to Parents - :52 – Hannah explains to her parents that she’s looking for a job and fishes for help Possible Daddy – 1:12 – Shoshanna tries to help find who is Jessa’s baby daddy before the abortion Best Dressed at The Abortion – 1:07 – Marnie gets some advice from her boss how to look her best while supporting her friend at the abortion clinic Listen Ladies – 2:49 – Sharing of their trials in the clinic Cast Auditions – Auditions for Allison Williams (2:21), Adam Driver (6:21), Andrew Rannells (6:26), Zosia Mamet (2:59). If you like the show, take time to watch the auditions for Adam and Andrew, they just nail it. Table Reads. I have to say this in a lot of ways is one of the best extras on this set. The table reads feature the actors doing a table read in front of a small audience and performing the dialog alone in this way gets those moments you can only call a “groan”, where the content is funny, but not in a way you’d ever laugh at.. Table read Episode 2 of Adam/Hannah Sex, Soshana/Jessa, and the Abortion Clinic: 5:27 Table Read Episode 3 of Tummy Fat/HPV – 3:31 Table Read Episode 4 of “The Dick Pic” – 5:29 (To me, this is funnier than it is in the show..) Table Read Episode 5 of “Masturbation” – 5:30 Disc 2 Extras Commentary for Episodes 1/6/7/9/10 A Conversation with Judd Apatow 24:40. An Interview of Lena Dunham by Judd Apatow about how they built the series, what they thought worked and didn’t and why Judd Apatow got onboard with the project. Surprisingly good. The Making of Girls 16:05 – a fairly standard behind the scenes documentary Deleted Scenes: Episode 6 – Lorren in the Garden 2:01 – Hannah’s mom covers issues in the Garden Episode 7 The Bathroom Line - :24 Expand the Midriff - :22 Marnie shows her conservative side disapproving of showing midriff Episode 9 Caution Tape – 1:49 – The girls run into a college friend who’s posing for Maxim on their way home Shoshanna Busts In – 1:22 – Shoshanna worries her day-date didn’t go so well and she picked up a stalker The Roaster – 1:02 – Hannah goes to school on how to become a barrista. Day Date Stalker – 1:12 – clearly a piece that only works with “Shoshanna Busts In” Shoshanna’s melt down goes into full panic as she worries if he could find her. Jessa’s friend offers Xanax Episode 10 One Dumb Girl at a Time – 1:16 – Ray, Charlies friend, explains to Hannah that he’s decided to see if he can educate her to stop being so ridiculous. A Conversation in Front of a Pianist – 1:35 – Things move along at Jessa’s wedding Bouquet Toss - :33 – Jessa throws the Bouquet and gives Marnie’s future. Gag Reel 1 – 5:22 – a gag reel of the errors seemingly coming from episodes 1-5 Gag Reel 2 – 5:32 – more gag reel. I –think – these are broken up by episodes, but the disc doesn’t quite make that clear. Table Reads: Episode 7 – 4:02 – Shoshanna Smokes Crack Episode 8 – 3:52 Adam/Hannah Episode 10 – 2:53 – An alternative ending done through a table read Also includes the audio only interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Lena Dunham, discussing the series, the controversy and issues around Girls. Itunes digital copy code Final Thoughts: 5/5 It is hard for me to say anything really negative about this set. In fact, the more I think about what comes with this, the more astonished I am by the level of quality all the way through. From the packaging to the presentation, HBO went out of their way to give fans of the series a complete look at the first season. The level of extras is something I don’t think I’ve seen with any series. I don’t just mean quantity, I mean quality as well – the extras are a fantastic part and I picture a lot of people watching the table reads and laughing themselves silly, as they often come across far funnier than the acted show. What can you really say about a presentation this good? I mean, really, what can you say? I received several series sets today for different things, not all for review. And when I look side by side at what I received for what the expected cost is, I am floored – and I mean completely floored – by the value this set really presents. If you are a fan of this series, you will not feel let down in any way by this presentation of Girls, and if you’re a fan of any other HBO series, you’re going to hope they can put this kind of effort into any show you love. Bravo, HBO, Bravo.