When I was a young lad, TV offered characters who fit all types – doctors, police officers, lawyers and the average working day folk. We had programming that ranged from ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ to Sanford & Sons, progressing to Roseanne and others with quite a bit of programming that focused on the average guy who just tried to live his life. When I look at today’s modern TV offerings, there are very few shows that focus on, or who have characters that deal with real poverty. Think about it. Penny on The Big Bang Theory is a waitress at Cheesecake Factory who manages to cover a nice one bedroom apartment where neighbors are professors. 2 ½ Men features the continuously wealthy.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Run Time: 54 Per episode average
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 12/17/2013
We have just decided, culturally that we would prefer to watch people who are more well off then to embrace the scrappy characters that we may encounter in real life – because we might ridicule them as well.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Shameless at times takes this too far for laughs, in Season 3 we: dig up a body, smuggle drugs to get back into the US and we get into a fight over inheritance of someone that has been dead for years. With all that said, though, Shameless also touches on issues that we are more likely to run into then programs featuring those with significant wealth. Characters who struggle to come up with rent & tax; people who worry about how to cover the average cost of caring for kids.
What makes Shameless work isn’t the zany plots, it’s the fantastic acting and performances offered that make the characters and the settings enjoyable and real. You may not know anyone like Frank, but at some point in your life you have probably run into someone like Fiona. Seeing the world through her eyes really works for the viewer.
I don’t think Season 3 was as strong as prior seasons, but it had some high moments that worked on every level, including some fantastic dramatic work by Rossum.
Shameless consists of 12 episodes spread amongst 2 discs which also feature extras. As a result, the encode is very tight. Offered in MPEG4 at an AWBR of 17Mbps, the variables here really work against his encode. With a Nominal bit rate of 14.0 Mbps and a maximum bit rate of 24.0 Mbps on any of the titles, the video doesn’t lop nearly as solid as it should. Scenes that have large fields of singe colors, like shots of ceiling titles have issues with artifacts. I took some time today to watch back through these again in the main theater to make sure my display output wasn’t impacting my results. Viewing this on a Panasonic ST60, as well as on two different projectors, I ran into the same issues. I went back and watched through my DVR Recordings from last year and many of these same issues do occur, but often I found my DVR recordings, done in high quality looked as good.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
This is disappointing in that I could on a Blu-Ray delivering superior video and audio, and this set doesn’t really accomplish that. Putting almost 6 hours of content on a single BD-50 reminds me too much of DVD sets that packed 4 hours into a DVD9. Quality suffers. The right math still remains a bit rate that is at least marginally higher to provide the best possible experience for the viewer.
While a PNG isn't fully representative (I can provide BMP caps) if you look to the left and that wall.. yep, it's blotchy in the straight from Blu-Ray uncompressed as well.
Still, the encode isn’t terrible, and for those that love the show it is as good as the TV release for the most part.
Presented in DTS-MA 5.1 Audio, the DTS mix here is very good. Dialog is crisp and clear and the use of music cues and soundtrack really work here. This is a fun soundtrack and the use of background sounds work. The Chicago EL floats above you in the rear channels when the train goes by, musical cues tell you as characters come in and out.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Disc 1 Extras
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Where the Streets Have No Shame – 14:23, 1080P, MPEG4 – This is a behind the scenes look at the set design and neighborhoods where Shameless is shot, and how they replicate it to get the same feel in LA. I really enjoyed this one and the actors lend a lot of weight to the story. Seeing the neighborhoods they shoot in you get a feeling that they worked hard to maintain a sense of realism. There are a few shots at the purchasing decisions of those who live within the neighborhood, but it’s still a blast.
The Many Sides of Sheila – 10:33, MPEG4, 1080P – Sheila, portrayed by Joan Cusack is a character that has come into her own and grown far beyond the nature of her character in the original UK version of this show. Cusack nails the character of Sheila, who may have terrible ideas but still you want to relate to her. They cover a lot of this in a fun short that delves into how Cusack developed this character. Mike O’Malley provides a lot of insight into the in and outs of the writing room.
Unaired Scenes – 13:33, 1080P, MPEG4 – there are twelve scenes here that were either cut from episodes or shortened in order to fill the episode. I didn’t find much here that changed any episode for the better, and I could understand why most were cut.
Disc 2 Extras
An Officer and a Gallagher – 10:12, 1080P, MPEG4 – Ian is a complex character effectively played. He doesn’t have Lip’s brains to find a way out through those means, but he has proven repeatedly to be a hard working kid who wants to find a way to get away from his family. ROTC and the Military seem to provide him an option to get away and improve his life. This extra chronicles the development of that character and how others relate to him.
A Lip off the Old Block – 9:09, 1080P, MPEG4 – Details the creation of Lip as a character. Also quite good.
Being Mandy & Mickey Milkovich – 8:08, 1080P, MPEG4 – behind the scenes look at the Milkovich family. Even in a situation where almost everyone is poor, there are still classes. The Milkovich family has been laid out as ‘poorer Gallaghers’ and the behind the scenes of these two really shows how the actors have thought of these roles.
A Messy Triangle – Lip, Karen & Mandy – 3:42, 1080P, MPEG4 – Unlike the other extras which focus on characters, this one focuses on a specific situation within the season. It’s short and gets quickly to the point but I didn’t find it as interesting as the other extras offered.
Unaired Scenes – 11:03, 1080P, MPEG4 – Several more scenes cut from the episodes as they appear on this disc.
3-Disc DVD Version & Ultraviolet Digital Codes also included.
I’m one of those that loves this series so having a chance to see it on Bluray is fantastic. This is a set that I can go back and rewatch and enjoy. I do regret that the video encode on this set is not as good as it should be, but I am overwhelmed with the number of extras and the quality of many of the extras included.
Overall Rating: 4/5
That’s an interesting problem to have. Because if the extras had been left off these discs, a better encode might have been possible. That said, on the whole the set is a great value. Providing both formats, digital and great extras make this a solid buy for fans of the show.
Reviewed By: MattCR
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