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HBO's Girls Blu-Ray Review (HIGHLY Recommended)



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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted December 03 2012 - 01:59 PM





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.












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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 03 2012 - 03:08 PM

Absolutely loved this show but, yeah, it's not for everyone.

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   DaveHof

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Posted December 03 2012 - 05:12 PM

Yeah, not for me. I watched the first two episodes and it was like watching Sex and the City, the early years - and that's not meant as a compliment because SATC is one of the most odious shows I've ever watched.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted December 03 2012 - 05:23 PM

Absolutely loved this show but, yeah, it's not for everyone.

I'm probably one of them. While I don't really passionately have anything against the show (although I do find the characters to be pretty unlikable), I just don't understand the appeal of the show as well as Dunham (who I guess is enjoying a "media darling" status at this point) who I personally find to be irritating (both character and real life) that people seem to have. As far as I know, I don't think I've ever heard one person I know personally mention this show. And I find it odd that shows like this and "True Blood" for example are so popular with Women, because these shows can be quite raunchy much of the time. Not saying Women can't enjoy that type of thing, but I think most of us with wives or girlfriends know what it's like when you get the "pervert" look from them from checking out a Playboy, or something like that. But more important that that, I found this show reinforces many negative stereotypes about Women.

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.

Interesting, from most of the episodes I've seen of this show, She was hardly a presence. Like, as if, Dunham/other writers couldn't figure out what to do with her
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#5 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 04 2012 - 01:07 AM

(although I do find the characters to be pretty unlikable)...

I didn't like the characters when the show started but by the end of the season, I grew to like them more. However, there's no rule that you have to like the characters on a show and most importantly, it's supposed to be a look at people who are somewhat less than perfect (like nearly everyone in the world).

But more important that that, I found this show reinforces many negative stereotypes about Women.

The characters are depicted well enough that you 'know' them so you can understand why they do what they do. At that point, anything that may be considered stereotypical is just part of the way that the character behaves. Real people do stereotypical things all the time.

Yeah, not for me. I watched the first two episodes and it was like watching Sex and the City, the early years - and that's not meant as a compliment because SATC is one of the most odious shows I've ever watched.

The show is almost the exact opposite of Sex And The City. That show was designed as something of a wish fulfillment/fantasy for women (just like Enoturage was for men) and Girls is a far more realistic and funny series.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted December 04 2012 - 03:52 AM

When the season was ongoing, there were two criticisms of the show:


(1) It presented a view that reinforces stereotypes of some women

(2) There are no African American characters.


So, I will say the unpopular thing about both.  

(1) yes, this show does reinforce some stereotypes.   But the sad fact is, I know people like this, and I'm sure others on this board and elsewhere do to.  If you spend an entire show trying to avoid all stereotypes you end up with bland nothingness.   There is a reason some stereotypes stay alive, and it's because some people do fit into them.  See: any reality show.  Teen Mom.   Jersey Shore.  etc.   Dunham's characters are better than the real life alternatives in almost all of those cases, and while we don't necessarily like what the characters represent, it doesn't in any way subtract from them being realistic characters.  By the end of the season, I completely bought the characters.


(2) I agree in New York, it's likely that there would be more african american faces.. EXCEPT.. these characters are so self-obsessed that they don't get out of their own space.   The fact that there are no African American characters doesn't surprise me.   I mean, I hate to say this, but I live in a major US metro, and there is not a single African American child at my son's school outside of my son who is mixed ethnicity.   So, having a set of predominantly jewish characters hanging out with jewish girlfriends and having a tight nit circle may not be as ethnically diverse as we wished it were, but I have no problem believing that there are a lot of people who live exactly like this and do not live in a very well blended society.


I'm not saying I like either factor, but I'm saying those two slaps against the show just don't sell me as anything bad about it.


Amazon has this at $26 today.. that's near half of HBO.   I am loving Amazon this month, it's like black friday every day this month for bluray.


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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted December 04 2012 - 04:16 AM

However, there's no rule that you have to like the characters on a show and most importantly, it's supposed to be a look at people who are somewhat less than perfect (like nearly everyone in the world)

I get that, but I guess what I mean is that despite their flaws, I never felt "won over" by any of them. You have the main character who mooches off her parents and friends and acts like a dunce the majority of the time, A pretty girl with a boyfriend who treats her well but is "bored" with him (and of course, becomes jealous when he moves on into a new relationship), an obnoxious, promiscuous, dope smoking Hippie chick, and another...well I don't know what to make of her because the episodes I saw seemed to feature so little of her. There's the "boyfriend" who is occasionally amusing but is pretty bizarre. I get that people like this exist in the real world, but they're not the types I prefer to associate with in real life either. Guess that's just me. I know many comedies I enjoy feature unlikable characters ("Seinfeld" "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" etc.) But whereas those shows are broad comedy where those characterizations are played for laughs, "Girls" strives to be a more "real life" type show.
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#8 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 04 2012 - 04:32 AM

There's the "boyfriend" who is occasionally amusing but is pretty bizarre.

There's a really good scene in a later episode where Adam says something that makes you instantly realize that he's more than just the weirdo comedic relief. I think keeping him weird for the bulk of the season was a calculated move to take Hannah and the audience by surprise when they suddenly got a different perspective on a character that they thought they knew.

I know many comedies I enjoy feature unlikable characters ("Seinfeld" "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" etc.) But whereas those shows are broad comedy where those characterizations are played for laughs, "Girls" strives to be a more "real life" type show.

I think the closest analogy that I can make with another show is Curb Your Enthusiasm. They're different shows (and Curb is far funnier) but they're similar in that they both have reasonably despicable characters getting into really awkward social situations. It's like Curb is the comedic version of that idea and Girls is the dramatic version of it.

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 04 2012 - 04:55 AM

I started watching Girls when I found out one of the leads from College Musical. I'm a fan of web-isodic stuff. My current loony find is Model Wife, starring one of the actresses from a Kindle commercial.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted December 04 2012 - 05:00 AM

I can't say that "a dramatic version of Curb Your Enthusiasm" sounds all that appealing. :) I am curious about this show, though. (It can't be as obnoxious as that online Obama ad that Lena Dunham did, can it?)
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#11 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 04 2012 - 05:22 AM

I can't say that "a dramatic version of Curb Your Enthusiasm" sounds all that appealing. :)

I said "dramatic" because I didn't feel like saying "realistic" yet again. :)

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 04 2012 - 05:33 AM

I showed the show to one of my cousins... Vapid woman married to a doctor, who's parents lined her crib in Silver...She didn't have just a spoon... Anyway, years ago she got her Bachelors in Creative Writing. So, I called out in groups when introducing her as..."She has her B.S. in waxing words...". She never gets the joke...(once, she goes..."It is not a BS, it is a BA...) She finds the show "unfunny" as it pokes fun at the way she grew up. Naturally, I love the show...

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted December 04 2012 - 03:18 PM

When the season was ongoing, there were two criticisms of the show: (1) It presented a view that reinforces stereotypes of some women (2) There are no African American characters. So, I will say the unpopular thing about both. (1) yes, this show does reinforce some stereotypes. But the sad fact is, I know people like this, and I'm sure others on this board and elsewhere do to. If you spend an entire show trying to avoid all stereotypes you end up with bland nothingness. There is a reason some stereotypes stay alive, and it's because some people do fit into them. See: any reality show. Teen Mom. Jersey Shore. etc. Dunham's characters are better than the real life alternatives in almost all of those cases, and while we don't necessarily like what the characters represent, it doesn't in any way subtract from them being realistic characters. By the end of the season, I completely bought the characters. (2) I agree in New York, it's likely that there would be more african american faces.. EXCEPT.. these characters are so self-obsessed that they don't get out of their own space. The fact that there are no African American characters doesn't surprise me. I mean, I hate to say this, but I live in a major US metro, and there is not a single African American child at my son's school outside of my son who is mixed ethnicity. So, having a set of predominantly jewish characters hanging out with jewish girlfriends and having a tight nit circle may not be as ethnically diverse as we wished it were, but I have no problem believing that there are a lot of people who live exactly like this and do not live in a very well blended society.

As for the 1st point, of course these characters exist. And you're right about what makes a stereotype a stereotype. But that has never stopped people from complaining and it seems the media breaks their backs bending over backwards to avoid them for the most part (look at many sitcoms and commercials where it's the wife runs the house and makes all the decisions and the husband is a stereotypical, dumb schlub. in that vein). And in this case, the filter I try to put it through is what would the reaction be if the main creative force behind this show was Male. I don't personally get offended by any of this stuff, but I'm surprised that women seem to be accepting of it. As a side note somewhat off topic, it seems that there are a ton of movies and shows out there where (depending, of course on the genre) when you have 2 attractive female leads, there needs to be some kind of girl on girl make out/sex scene (think “Black Swan” or the recent movie with Julianne Moore or hell even the screencap in this review shows it). I always find that funny that women don’t get offended by that as well. As if the message is that really all women secretly desire same-sex sexual encounters. My Wife doesn’t, (believe me, I’ve asked). But I digress. As for the 2nd point. I always kind of find it interesting when a show or movie is criticized for lack of Minorities. I can understand in a lot of cases the concern is legit, but when it comes to material where a minority presence isn’t really organic to the story but gets criticism anyway, it seems to me like it’s reverse racism in the sense that minorities are considered a quota fill. In reality, life isn’t a Sunny D/Olive Garden commercial. You don’t generally run into many fully diverse social groups in everyday life. That being said, I do realize that in spite of all the tolerance and diversity preaching that comes out of Hollywood, in reality, there is plenty of inequality. I would find it very hard to believe that “Girls” would have been Green Lit by HBO if all the main characters were minorities. And while I don’t blame minorities for being upset by that kind of thing, criticizing “Girls” doesn’t seem to be the right battle, in this case.
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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 05 2012 - 12:11 AM

I wonder what Geena Davis thinks of the show... http://www.seejane.org/

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 05 2012 - 12:48 AM

As for the 2nd point. I always kind of find it interesting when a show or movie is criticized for lack of Minorities. I can understand in a lot of cases the concern is legit, but when it comes to material where a minority presence isn’t really organic to the story but gets criticism anyway, it seems to me like it’s reverse racism in the sense that minorities are considered a quota fill.

When there's criticism about lack of diversity and the writers respond by adding the 'missing' group, it frequently comes off as pandering or, at its worst, white man's burden to me. I think the key to avoiding that trap is to make sure that the character being added is a real and well drawn person and not just there for the sake of having a specific race or group represented. I can only speak for myself but I don't care about the race of the charcters on my screen. If you're telling a good and interesting story, you will hook me as a viewer. I watched The Wire and Treme because they're good shows and I don't watch Tyler Perry's sitcoms because they're terrible. The predominantly black casts in those shows have no bearing on my viewing.

As if the message is that really all women secretly desire same-sex sexual encounters. My Wife doesn’t, (believe me, I’ve asked).

Ha! :tu:





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