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HTF DVD Review: Crossing Jordan Season One



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

Neil Middlemiss

    Screenwriter

  • 2,701 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2001
  • Real Name:Neil Middlemiss

Posted May 31 2008 - 03:08 PM

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Crossing Jordan Season One





Studio: Universal Studios
Year: 2001-2001
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 16 hrs, 57 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH



US Release Date: May 6, 2008

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“So, who do you want to be? Victim or Killer?”


Before he came to assist in NBC’s rescue in 2007 with a clever little show called Heroes, which despite its sophomore slump, is still among Televisions finest finds, Tim Kring introduced the world to a medical investigation show called Crossing Jordan. Premiering on September 24, 2001, it ran for six seasons before NBC allowed the show to cross the river Jordan into televisions afterlife.

The premise has Jordan Cavanaugh, an impertinent, impatient, passionate and formidably talented Doctor, returning to Boston to work in the Medical Examiners office after several less than calm years butting heads with various employers. Jordan, played exceptionally well by Jill Hennessy, has a habit of following her investigative instincts that not only bend the boundaries of the Medical Examiners responsibilities, but throw them out the window. Jordan also has an interesting relationship with her father, Max. Max is a retired police detective who was forced into retirement for his headstrong and persistent research into the case of his wife, who was murdered when Jordan was very young. This tragic event is a traumatic vein that has formed much of who Jordan is today. The death of the wife and mother provides a closeness and tension between Jordan and her father that giving an emotional and intriguing plotline that remains throughout the show. Jordan and her father often spend time at the kitchen table, looking into case files and role playing to get the perspective of the victim and the perpetrator.

Unlike other procedural crime dramas, Crossing Jordan acknowledges the unusual blurring and breaking of lines of responsibility. Shows like the triumvirate of C.S.I shows happily flaunt creative license taken in non-police force departments are involved with how crimes are investigated and hopefully solved; taking over much of the work that would typically fall under the purview of police detectives (I am still not sure why investigative scientists on those shows conduct so many interrogations of suspects). But here, the presumptuousness of Jordan in chasing down leads is a part of the series’ core, with her tempestuous inclination being a dramatic and entertaining thread that cohesively maneuvers into the plots of almost every episode in this initial season.

Crossing Jordan is a success in two ways. First, the storylines and vantage point to the crime stories are engaging. Rarely original in the grand scheme of things (plot wise), but handled well and absorbing. The second and quite frankly more important key to the shows success is the characters, the actors playing them and the machinations of their imperfect lives. Jill Hennessey, who portrayed a vastly different character as Assistant District Attorney, Claire Kincaid on Law & Order, is undoubtedly the lynchpin of the show. She displays a tenacity that is not entirely heroic, which is refreshing. She is a troubled soul who is reckless at times, but bound by integrity and the pursuit of what needs to be done, even though she typically finds the wrong way to go about it (according to protocol). Her boss, Dr. Garret Macy is played by Miguel Ferrer. His fatherly character provides Jordan with balance; a wall at times which either helps her not become too rogue, or nudges her in the right direction on a case. Miguel is well suited for this role, giving out wisdom almost as much as he soaks it up from those around him. The rest of cast, which includes “Bug” (Ravi Kapoor) as a forensic entomologist and Nigel Towhsend (Steve Valentine) as a British criminologist, Lily Lebowski (Kathryn Hahn) as a staff worker and few Detectives which appear in varying frequency, most notably of which is Jerry O’Connell as Detective Woody Holt, are each well suited and good.

Intriguing stories, compelling characters lives and strong performances from the cast help Crossing Jordan break out of the gate smoothly and find its feet quickly, succeeding at pulling in a core and dedicated audience from the very beginning.




The Episodes
Disc One
1: Pilot
2: The Dawn of a New Day
3: The Ties That Bind
4: Born to Run

Disc Two
5: You Can’t Go Home Again
8: Believers
7: Sight Unseen
8: Digger, Part One
9: Digger, Part Two

Disc Three
10: Blue Christmas
11: Wrong Place, Wrong Time
12: Blood Relatives
13: Miracles & Wonders
14: Four Fathers

Disc Four
15: Acts of Mercy
16: Lost and Found
17: Crime & Punishment
18: With Honor
19: For Harry, with Love and Squalor

Disc Five
20: The Gift of Life
21: Someone to Count On
22: Secrets & Lies, Part One
23: Secrets & Lies, Part Two



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The show is presented in anamorphic widescreen in 1.78:1 ratio. The pilot episode is just awful. It’s fuzzy and looks almost out of focus the entire time. The single, obvious computer generated special effect shot is crisp, but every shot surrounding it is so soft, it dampens the enjoyment of the whole experience.

Fortunately, however, the remaining 22 episodes fare far better. Each one is a dramatic improvement over the pilot episode and contains a nice spread of color, rather warm for a show that takes place in large part around death. Blues really seem to pop in the show for some reason. Close-ups show some really nice details and, despite being a little too dark in some scenes (which may be the result of the shows lighting), the image appears clean, getting stronger in quality as the season progresses. Grain is evident, which is fine, but the noise in very bright elements within shots can be distracting.



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Crossing Jordan comes with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The center channel is clean with the dialogue, though there are a couple of times through the season where there is a slight drop out, but I am sure that it was scene and location specific (particularly during episode three in the prison). The show relies heavily on music, select song choices that augment the storylines and the emotion of the characters. This in addition to the effective score provided by series co-composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin gives the soundfield and more immersive feel than you normally find with DD 2.0 tracks.

Bass is quite strong in places which also breathes life into the sound and what you end up with is a solid and pleasing audio track.


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Audio Commentary with Creator Tim Kring, Producer/Director Allan Arkush and composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Mevoin - The commentary tracks are available on the Pilot and episodes 13, 19, and 23. These commentaries are usually lively and have good discussion on artistic and creative choices. Talking about camera angles, single shot sequences and the use of music, the commentators provide few anecdotes but much appreciation and acknowledgement for the hard work and effort that went into the entire season.

Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes are spread out throughout the season and are available on the disc with episode they were cut from. They can be found from the Pilot and from episodes 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 18.

A Conversation with Series Creator Tim Kring (et al) - (18:02) – Tim Kring discusses the origins of the show, creating the show (altering his concept from his original idea of basing it around a small town sheriff) and developing the look and feel for the world the show would take place in. It features the couch-based conversation occasionally interspersed with shots from behind the scenes of the show. Good stuff.

Jill Hennessy and Allan Arkush talk about Jordan - (18:02) – My favorite of the conversations has Jill Hennessy and Allan Arkush reminiscing about the start-up of the show. Jill is very light and likeable here and shows how much of a handle she had on the character she portrayed almost from the beginning.

Steve Valentine, Ravi Kapoor and Kathryn Hahn talk with Allan Arkush - (15:12) – Another interesting conversation between the actors and producer/director Arkush. They reminisce about getting their roles and how they got into their characters. The conversation is interspersed with scenes, some deleted and a few behind the scenes shots.

Allan Arkush and Tim Kring talk with Miguel Ferrer - (17:03) – Kring and Arkush discuss the Dr. Macy character and what they intended the character to be and Ferrer talks about his desire to play a character that is mixed up and troubled. Recalling the scene in the Pilot where his Dr. Macy’s character gives the speech in front of students about “not following in your father’s footsteps” is of particular interest. The deleted scene shown would have worked in the final episode.

Previews Previews for Friday Night Lights, Lipstick Jungle, Heroes




Final Thoughts


Crossing Jordan is a good show. The episode plots are fairly standard (but still good), however it is the dynamics of the cast and the weaving of familiar threads through the season, along with a set of characters that are dimensional with relatable flaws and likable traits that help this show stand out. I can easily recommend this season, not only to those that are familiar with the show, but to those who look for something a little more substantive and dramatically solid than a run-of-the-mill crime procedural.

I look forward to the future seasons following the quest of Jordan looking for the killer of her mother; her personal struggles and relationships and learning more of the pursuits and quirks of the entertaining characters. Pick it up and enjoy it today.



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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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