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HTF REVIEW: Desperate Housewives Season Two: Recommended

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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted August 29 2006 - 02:43 AM

Posted Image Desperate Housewives
Season 2
Studio: Buena Vista
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 encoded 1.78:1 (HD OAR)
Audio: 5.1 DD English
SpecialFeatures: Unaired Story Lines, Deleted Scenes, Role Models, Marc & Mom, other making-of documentaries and goodies
ReleaseDate: August 29, 2006
The Show...
I’ll assume that anyone interested in Season Two of Desperate Housewives is a loyal viewer of the show and had already enjoyed Season One on DVD. For the uninitiated, Desperate Housewives is an unconventional mix of drama, comedy, satire, and soap-opera that works surprisingly well. Though there’s nothing offensively graphic, the show is a bit racy and there are some frank discussions/portrayals of adult-topics so it’s not something to put on to watch with the kids. If you’d like to read more about the show please see the review thread for Season One. Also, as always fans are encouraged to share your own thoughts in this thread. Season One Review: http://www.hometheat....d.php?t=221057
Packaging and Presentation...
Just like Season One, this new edition of Desperate Housewives comes to you in a fold-out package housed in a plastic outer sleeve. Two discs are held in each fold-out section and overlap forcing the viewer to remove the top disc in order to access the lower disc. I find this form of packaging inconvenient but it’s a minor quibble for an otherwise outstanding set. The episode numbers are silk-screened on each disc and the set contains a booklet detailing each disc and it’s content with descriptions and titles for each episode to make locating any particular show an easy task.
The Picture...
Gorgeous. Desperate Housewives Season Two earns that coveted “Near HD” qualifier. I couldn’t locate my Season One copy to compare, but my impression is that Season Two looks very much on par with the also-outstanding image quality of Season One. The effect on my 720P projector is certifiably “Near HD” in quality. In fact, novice viewers might have a hard time discerning the differences between the ABC HD broadcast and the DVD. Where the HD original betters the DVD is in the subtleties… which includes (as you would expect) more finely-rendered detail and a more “graceful” look and feel especially in terms of color gradation and movement. However, I want to stress how closely the DVD comes to mimicking the HD appearance and viewers who watch from greater than 2 screen widths are likely to see no difference at all. The DVD image reveals an outstanding level of detail… more so than the typical Buena Vista DVD I’m used to reviewing. Overall compression is handled very well though on my projector I thought I noticed a few “noisy” moments during panning that appeared to my eyes to be MPEG based. Black level is good, contrast and color are spot-on, and the image maintains the proper “glow” of the film-shot original source material. The only times I noticed any visible edge-ringing was around the hard-edged text during the opening credits… during the rest of the program and I all filmed image content I so no edge-ringing to speak of. Very impressive. Were it not for the occasional appearance of what to my eyes looks like digital artifacting, the image would be perfect. Picture Quality: 4.5 / 5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Rating Rationale... Rating Key:
SCORE Description
1-2 An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch even on a 32” 4x3 480I TV. Think Outland or Jean De Flourette (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl, PAL-NTSC conversion artifacts etc.)-- truly horrid.
2-3 Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Kill Bill Vol 1.
3-4 Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos.
4-5 A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements limited only by DVD’s 720 x 480 resolution. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW" and ask you if they are watching HD. Think The Empire Strikes Back, the Fifth Element Superbit or the new Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition.
Viewing Equipment: Currently running DVDs on my OPPO DVD player (Faroudja deinterlacing) which scales to 720P, feeding my BenQ 8700+ PJ via DVI, projecting onto a 106” 16x9 Dalite HiPower screen, viewed from approximately 1.6 screen-widths distance. Well mastered DVDs produce a stunningly film-like image in this scenario, and lesser-mastered material quickly shows its flaws.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is more than acceptable for a “TV show” of this sort. While by and large surround activity is lacking, the mix is full-bodied, with a nice dynamic range and frequency response. The musical score is recorded in good fidelity and spreads nicely across the front LCR soundtstage and dialogue is never fatiguing or irritatingly flat. Sound Quality: 4 / 5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Listening Equipment: B&K AVR 212 processor/receiver driving my Onix-Rocket Loudspeaker system.
Special Features...
Disc Six (the last disc in the set) contains a nice collection of bonus material. I like the fact that it’s all been placed on one disc which makes it very convenient to view it all on one sitting if you have the time. My one criticism of the bonus material is that they are all 4x3 encoded, including the deleted scenes, which is a shame when the source is a 16x9 HD program. WORD OF CAUTION: If you haven’t seen the complete Season Two, be sure to watch all 24 episodes before launching into the bonus features. SPOILERS ARE EVERYWHERE and you’ll regret having lost some of the surprise of the show by accidentally catching a glimpse of some plot developments in the bonus features.
  • Unaired Story Lines:This special feature is really a way of distinguishing a handful of deleted scenes that capture a few story lines that weren’t used in the final cuts of the shows.
  • Delete Scenes: There are many deleted scenes here that fans will enjoy viewing (some flesh out scenes still used in the show). Sadly, all are 4x3 encoded though the image quality is generally good.
  • Marc & Mom: This is a cute featurette with Marc and his mother as they discuss his childhood and he shares experiences that became his inspiration for the show.
  • Desperate Role Models: Each of the main characters talks about their roles and the inspiration for their characters is also discussed by the writers. Enjoyable.
  • Fashions of Wisteria Lane: This featurette is definitely worth your time if you have any interest in the fashion design behind the wardrobe of the main characters. The show’s fashion designer talks in detail about her thought process and creative intentions behind several outfits and it shows just how much thought goes into the details.
  • Directing Desperate Housewives: The creative team talk about their story-development process and how they pull together the storylines that are often developed by separate writers.
  • More: There are also some promo shorts and other tid-bits worth checking out. Enjoy!!!
All Together...
Fans already have Season Two on order. Allow me to emphasize that you made the right choice! Picture quality is outstanding even for those of you who got spoiled watching the HD broadcast. Audio quality is great and there is a nice helping of special features on the last disc that are worth exploring. In keeping with the show I’d recommend that you fall to temptation! Recommended
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#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Ryan Wong

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Posted September 05 2006 - 02:11 AM

I can't wait to get my hand on it.
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#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Jay_B!



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Posted September 05 2006 - 05:35 AM

I feel season 2 is unfairly maligned. Because it wasn't as fresh and exciting at season 1 DOESN'T automatically put it in the "Crap" catagory. I enjoyed it enough to get it even though I admit I wasn't as excited over new episodes the way I was the first year.

#4 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted September 05 2006 - 08:52 AM

It was an up and down season. The best things in the season were as good as anything the show did in Season One, but it simply wasn't as consistent as Season One. The Betty Applewhite storyline was a total washout as even the creators of the show will admit. One aspect of the show that didn't get nearly as much press as I expected it to was the dramatization of Andrew's homosexual relationship with his boy friend. This show went farther than any broadcast network show has ever gone in showing two young men kissing, romping in bed, and simply being romantic together totally out for all to see. Other networks take note. This is how it should be done.

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   JamesTaylor


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Posted September 05 2006 - 06:43 PM

Yeah, the homosexual storyline was very realisitic and I was wondering how come no one spoke of it in the media. Are there any commentary tracks on the set? -James
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#6 of 13 OFFLINE   Jason Hughes

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Posted September 07 2006 - 01:18 PM

Can somebody help me here? I quit watching halfway through the season when The Sopranos came back on. I need a listing of which episodes are on each disc, so I which ones to put in my Netflix que. For the life of me, I can't find this on the net anywhere. I need to start with episode #216 (There Is No Other Way). Thanks for any help.
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#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted September 07 2006 - 04:48 PM

I'm just concerned about what might have happened to Dave's copy of Season 1! Posted Image

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#8 of 13 OFFLINE   EricSchulz



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Posted September 07 2006 - 04:54 PM

David...thanks for the "thumbs up" review! LOVED season One (watched it on DVD, not broadcast) and had heard so many negative things about S2 that I almost thought about giving it a pass...until now! (Hey...it's still on mt "recent DVDs watched" list...with an A-!

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Jay_B!



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Posted September 07 2006 - 07:59 PM

so far (I've watched 14 episodes), season 2 is MUCH better on DVD than on ABC. ABC was very notorious for cutting to commercials every four minutes, really disrupting the flow of the series. On DVD, the episodes are much more cohesive and enjoyable. Was it as good as season 1? I don't think so. Was it anywhere as bad as the critics who savaged it? absolutely not. It was still very good in season 2 and Marcia Cross was once again brilliant.

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Frank@N



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Posted September 08 2006 - 07:34 AM

Could anyone share some info on how the show is shot (film type, aspect ratio). I've seen the FS version on TV and just picked up S1 used on DVD. I was hoping the show was shot in WS and cropped for TV, but it appears to be the other way around (unless I'm mistaken).

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Jay_B!



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Posted September 08 2006 - 07:51 AM

I never really paid much attention (I'm so used to widescreen that I never actually realize anymore) but I believe it airs in widescreen on ABC as well.

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Richard Michael Clark

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Posted September 08 2006 - 08:17 AM

Like most shows the sides are cropped off the full 16:9 image in post-production to create the 4:3 version. Both ratios are taken into account when shooting. This show is shot on film.

#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Frank@N



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Posted September 08 2006 - 08:53 AM

I don't have HD, so the version I see is on regular TV. After watching both seasons on TV, I'm fairly sure that the regular broadcasts are FS. Watching the S1 DVDs, there's definite feeling of lost image at the top and bottom. If the show really was shot in FS (like Sex & City) they probably should have left it that way.