The epic story of the Dawson City Gold Rush during the late 1890s is told through the eyes of Bill Haskell (Richard Madden from Game of Thrones) in Klondike, the first scripted miniseries to be broadcast on The Discovery Channel. Shot under adverse conditions in less than 60 days, the result is quite astonishing and very entertaining.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 4 Hr. 35 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayElite 2-disc Blu-ray keepcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 06/10/2014
Bill Haskell (Richard Madden) has just graduated college, and is setting out for fame and fortune with his best friend, Byron Epstein (Augustus Prew), a reckless gambler who has a habit of squandering away his money. The two barely escape a fight at a gambling establishment in Boston, and on their way west, they meet up with a gold miner at a local pub who tells them that Dawson City is the next place to strike gold. Convinced, the two young men set out for Dawson City, again barely escaping death by managing to elude an avalanche while climbing the steep pass on the way to the city. They arrive at a mud hole of a town, filled with thieves, prostitutes, and swindlers, with The Count (Tim Roth) and wood baron Belinda Mulrooney (Abbie Cornish) battling each other in land deals to decide who controls the town. Bill and Byron stake claim to a small parcel they plan to mine, only to find Byron murdered shortly thereafter. Belinda buys Byron’s stake in the claim, placing her cousin, Meeker (Tim Blake Nelson) to work the mine with Bill. Bill and Meeker build a solid friendship over the years of mining the land, eventually striking gold and solving Byron’s murder. Sam Shepard plays Father Judge, a preacher who tries to bring morality to the town while also allowing his would-be church to be used as a hospital to house those suffering from typhoid. A Superintendent (Marton Csokas) from the Royal Mounted Police arrives to try and bring order to the town, but gets sidelined by Cavendesh (Brian Markinson), a man with way too much political muscle. And even author Jack London (Johnny Simmons) hangs out in the town to stake out some story material.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Based on the novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike by Charlotte Gray, Klondike was directed by Simon Cellan Jones (Treme) on location in Alberta, Canada. Production designer Ken Rempel recreated the town from scratch, adding to the series’ visual authenticity. The score by Adrian Johnston has a distinct Hans Zimmer-like sound that blends nicely with the lush visuals. The cast puts forth some solid performances, and Richard Madden is able to hold his own in the male lead, commanding a believable American accent. Abbie Cornish plays the strong-willed but vulnerable Mulrooney with ease, and has some good chemistry with Madden. Tim Roth plays his usual borderline crazy sociopath, which suits his character well. And Sam Shepard is, as always, convincing as the preacher facing unbelievable odds.
Cinedigm brings Klondike to Blu-ray in a nice 1080p AVC encoded transfer that hands down beats the original broadcast version, splitting the 3-part, 6-hour miniseries over two discs (disc one is a BD50 containing the first two parts, and disc two is a BD25 containing the finale and bonus features). Colors are purposefully muted slightly, and given a blue tint to suggest the frigid temperatures. Contrast is excellent with deep blacks and crisp whites, and detail is also rendered very nicely.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is an obvious upgrade over the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track used for the broadcast version. Dialogue is clear and distinct, and surrounds are used quite effectively, particularly during scenes inside the busy saloon. Music is spread throughout the front and rear soundstages evenly.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Klondike Behind The Scenes (1080p; 21:16): The cast and crew discuss making the miniseries, including Executive Producer Ridley Scott.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Discovering Klondike (1080p; 10:36): A much shorter version of the previous documentary, with much of the same material and interviews.
Cast Interviews (1080p; 11:14): Raw interview footage with Richard Madden, Sam Shepard, Abbie Cornish, Tim Roth, and Ridley Scott.
Klondike was a nice surprise, as I am not always a fan of historical dramas, particularly ones that air on channels dedicated mostly to reality programming. The series features strong performances and lush visuals, with some nice bonus features thrown in for good measure.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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