In preparation for the season three premiere on TNT, Warner Bros brings the second season of its surprise hit sci-fi drama Falling Skies to Blu-ray. Featuring audio and video that is vastly superior to its heavily compressed cable and satellite broadcasts, the second season features a more complex storyline, more aliens, and a better understanding of what the invader’s end game is.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Run Time: 7 Hr. 20 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet2-disc Eco-keepcase in cardboard sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/04/2013
When we last saw Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), he had voluntarily been abducted and taken aboard an alien spaceship in hope of saving his middle son, Ben. The second season picks up at that exact moment, flash forwards three months where Tom is accidentally shot during a skirmish as he finds his way back to the 2nd Massachusetts. In a series of flashbacks, we learn what Tom was doing aboard the spaceship, meet an Overlord alien (nicknamed Fishheads by the battalion), and get a glimpse of what the aliens are really after. And that is all during the season premiere. As the ten-episode season gets underway, the 2nd Mass gets word that other battalions along the eastern coast of the United States are regrouping in Charleston, and spend much of the season on the move, helping give the series a more epic tone by constantly changing locations from week to week, and providing plenty of twists and turns in the season’s main story arc.Noah Wyle’s Tom Mason, while still the smart, sympathetic, and scholarly father, is maturing into a true leader, despite some setbacks to his health caused by the aliens. Will Patton brings an underlying doubt to his own leadership abilities as Captain Weaver, realizing that he’s lost several soldiers and civilians under his watch. And the relationship between Tom and lead doctor Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) continues to grow. As with most series, many of the supporting actors are given more screen time, allowing their characters to grow. The role of John Pope (played with much fun by Colin Cunningham) is, perhaps, the most expanded character, and adds some much needed conflict within the 2nd Mass. We also learn a lot more about Maggie’s (Sarah Carter) background as her relationship with eldest son Hal Mason (Drew Roy) deepens.Finally, the visual effects work completed by Zoic Studios, for the most part, is very close to what one would expect in a feature film. There is obviously a large amount of CGI effects in the series, including aliens as well as interiors and exteriors of spaceships, but very rarely does it ever look cheesy or cheap.
The Production Rating: 4/5
The 1080p transfer, compressed using the AVC codec, retains the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the original broadcasts (even though the packaging lists the aspect ratio as 2.40:1). Colors are consistent and not overly saturated, and contrast and black levels are decent. Detail is extremely good, allowing viewers to see the layers of filth and beard stubble on the human population, but also the miniscule parasite aliens that are introduced this season. Compression artifacts are non-existent, a major improvement over the 1080i cable and satellite broadcasts on TNT.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Much like the video, the audio soundtrack gets a major improvement over the heavily compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 track used in the cable and satellite broadcasts, taking full advantage of the increased bandwidth and fidelity of the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The entire soundstage opens up nicely, with increased separation, better bass response, and what appears to be much more active surround channels (although, according to the sound designers, nothing is changed in the mix except the bit rate when the broadcast tracks are created). Dialogue remains intelligible and never gets lost in the mix, reproducing omstly out of the center channel. Each episode is near reference quality.Dolby interviewed Emmy Award-winner re-recording mixer Mark D. Fleming about the work that went into Falling Skies:
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Disc One:Audio Commentary on “Worlds Apart” by Actor Noah Wyle, Co-Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman and Writer Mark VerheldenOne Page at a Time: Writing the Second American Revolution (HD; 20:49)The Fan’s Perspective: Touring the set of Falling Skies (HD; 8:59)Terry O’Quinn is Manchester (HD; 1:46)Creating The Crawlies (HD; 1:12)Designing The Spaceship (HD; 1:23)Team Skitter (HD; 2:48)Season 2 Animated Trailer, Created by Dark Horse Comics (HD; 1:13)Disc Two:Audio Commentary on “Homecoming” by Actor Noah Wyle, Co-Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman and Executive Producer Remi AubuchonAudio Commentary on “A More Perfect Union” by Actor Noah Wyle, Executive Producer/Writer Remi Aubuchon, and Writers Bradley Thompson and David WeddieThe Skitter Evolution (HD;9:47)2nd Watch - Episode 20: A more Perfect Union (HD; 30:58)Season 3 Preview (HD; 2:20)UltraViolet Digital Copy
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Fans will definitely be pleased with this release, although I feel Warner Bros should consider releasing the previous seasons more than just a few days prior to the debut of the new season for those that want to catch up.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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