HTF Review: Dead Like Me - The Complete Second Season

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    [​IMG]

    Dead Like Me – The Complete Second Season




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2004
    Rated: Not Rated
    Program Length: 11 Hours 42 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.78:1)
    Subtitles: None
    Audio: English – Dolby Digital 5.1




    Release Date:
    July 19th, 2005



    This four disc set contains the second season of the hip, humorous series Dead Like Me, which continues the otherworldly adventures of a young grim reaper named Georgia “George” Lass (Ellen Muth). The poor lass was dealt a very cruel hand by fate, as she was killed instantly by a commode that fell off the Mir space station, at the tender age of eighteen. After her death, George was assigned to a team of undead “grim reapers” that collect the souls of the living shortly before they are scheduled to die, and then help see them to their Final Destination in the afterlife.

    As the series continues, we get to see how George continues coping with the fact she died so young, the transition into adulthood that she is going through in her afterlife, and the peculiarities/challenges associated with her new job. Speaking of which, if you are unfamiliar with the show, it bears mention that there are some really important rules that reapers must follow, which can really complicate their afterlives! Among them are:

    ** Fate must not be interfered with, especially by helping those who are scheduled to die avoid their fate.
    ** The identity of a particular soul must be verified prior to extraction, as Rube only provides the first initial, last name, and estimated time of death (ETD) on the Post-It-Notes he gives to his team of reapers!
    ** Reapers must lead souls to their Final Destination, but can never follow them into it.

    Though not exactly characterized as rules, there are a few other fascinating aspects of the “reaper” lifestyle”! For instance, the living can see and interact with the dead, but the dead appear physically different to the living than they did while they were alive. Secondly, despite the demanding nature of the job, pay and housing are not provided, so most of the reapers also have to work at "normal jobs", such as a traffic officer!

    While it really revolves around George, Dead Like Me also chronicles the adventures of her co-reapers, played by Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Laura Harris, and Mandy Patinkin, and her surviving family’s members’ lives as well. For a show about death, these characters are really very funny, and I think these episodes exhibit improved upon the show’s very strong first season in all areas – the writing is crisper, the actors seem to have really become at home in their characters, and the show’s humor is even more wicked! Quite frankly, there really isn’t much else on the Showtime channel that is of interest to me, but I do my best to never miss a new episode of Dead Like Me!


    DISC ONE:

    --- “Send In The Clown”
    In the first episode from Season Two, George formulates plans to take her crush on an intern at the Happy Time Temp Agency to another level, despite stern warnings from her friends to avoid getting involved. In the meantime, Mason (Callum Blue) becomes depressed when he is tasked with collecting a soul at a child’s birthday party.

    --- “The Ledger”
    In this installment, George makes the baseless assumption that the bad luck she had in life means that her afterlife should be charmed. However, when her bike is stolen, and she learns that her parents are getting divorced, George comes to the realization that even her afterlife may require some effort to be put in!

    --- “Ghost Story”
    Despite being a reaper for a while, George still feels like an outsider. As such, she decides to let her duties slide and attend Happy Time’s yearly camping retreat. Meanwhile, Daisy (Laura Harris) and Mason are frantically searching for a Post-It note he misplaced, before horrible consequences occur.

    --- “The Shallow End”
    In “The Shallow End”, George recalls a very traumatic experience from her adolescence, which convinces her that she is too nice, and needs to adopt a tougher attitude. Mason also faces a tough challenge – to convince a man whose soul he collected that he cannot be present at his own funeral service.


    DISC TWO:


    --- “Hurry”
    In this episode, a consultant comes to Happy Time, which causes George’s boss to push her employees to ratchet up their production! In the meantime, George’s co-reaper Daisy is racing against time to collect a soul at a “speed-dating” event.

    --- “In Escrow”
    Here, George has become emotionally exhausted due to work-related difficulties, while her still-living sister, Reggie (Britt McKillip), is fear-stricken after being left home alone when mom (Cynthia Stevenson) goes out on a date.

    --- “Rites of Passage”
    In “Rites of Passage” George’s colleagues become jealous when she is assigned to collect a rock star’s soul, but her task becomes a real challenge as she tries to make her way past the celebrity’s interfering entourage!

    --- “The Escape Artist”
    In this intriguing episode, George develops feelings for a fellow reaper, Rube (Mandy Patinkin) goes undercover as a second-grade teacher, and Roxy (Jasmine Guy) enjoys an assignment in beautiful Cancun, Mexico.


    DISC THREE:

    --- “Be Still My Heart”
    This time out, George attends a funeral to pursue the new object of her affection, and her sister develops a science experiment that puts their parents at each other’s throats!

    --- “Death Defying”
    After George finally loses her virginity, and never gets another phone call from her lover, she declares that she is done with men! In the meantime, Daisy is getting hot and heavy with a television executive, and Rube is busy looking into his past.

    --- “Ashes to Ashes”
    In this episode, George gets into trouble for helping a transient die with an identity. Meanwhile, Mason is forced to re-evaluate his feelings for Daisy as her relationship with the aforementioned television executive grows.

    --- “Forget Me Not”
    In “Forget Me Not”, George cannot get a decease person with Alzheimer’s to acknowledge her own passing, and ends up trapped inside of a hospital, while her mother Joy looks for a job…at Happy Time. Elsewhere, Mason decides to challenge Daisy’s man to a boxing match!


    DISC FOUR:

    --- “Last Call”
    In “Last Call” George ponders all of the things she never got to accomplish in life, while Mason is forced to consider all he has done in his afterlife. In the meantime, Roxy becomes convinced that Daisy is keeping a secret that pertains to her now-missing ex-boyfriend.

    --- “Always”
    After a homeless man is barred from the Waffle House, George pleads with Daisy to let him stay with them! Meanwhile, in the land of the living, George’s family deals with yet another loss.

    --- “Haunted”
    In the season finale, a serial killer strikes on Halloween, sending George and her fellow reapers into action to collect his victims’ souls!





    SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
    MGM offers the first season of Dead Like Me in 16x9 enhanced widescreen (1.78:1), and as was the case with Season One, the episodes in this set look terrific! In particular, colors are rendered splendidly, without smearing or noise, and flesh tones have a pleasant, natural appearance at all times. Blacks are also deep and well defined, leading to plenty of detail in dimly lit sequences, excellent image depth, and a tangible sense of texture.

    In addition, these episodes contained no noticeable print flaws, and exhibited a tremendous amount of detail, especially in close ups. Better yet, MGM appears to have “reaped” all compression artifacts, edge enhancement, or other digital nasties from the image! For all of these reasons, I must say that I was just as impressed by the show’s visuals as I was with the first season set - they really look great, and should make fans of the series every bit as happy as I was!




    WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
    Dead Like Me is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and the show uses each of the six channels to good effect. Of course, the primary element of the soundtracks is dialogue, and I am happy to report that it is reproduced in a clear, precise manner, from Jasmine Guy’s Southern drawl to Ellen Muth’s rich, throaty voice. As such, it never takes an extra effort to determine what the actors are saying.

    In terms of music, Stewart Copeland’s intriguing score is also situated nicely within the spacious soundstage, and boasts natural sounding timbres and tangible instrument separation. Further, during pivotal moments within each episode, such as the many intriguing “death” scenes, the rear channels become involved, creating a truly engaging sonic experience. As you might have expected, the rear channels are also assigned to more typical duties, such as enriching the aforementioned score by filling in the soundstage.

    In many instances, particularly when someone is about to be meet their end, an appropriate level of LFE support is employed, giving viewers the chance to “feel” the impact of what is transpiring onscreen. On the whole, it is not as active and dynamic as the 5.1 mix for a big-budget film like Master and Commander, but as television product goes, the episodes in this set are surprisingly active and atmospheric! This should not only help you get involved in the show, but keep you interested as well!

    Frankly, given the audio quality on the season one set, I was expecting as much, but MGM still deserved kudos for a job well done!!!

    NOTE: As was the case with the season one set, one thing which may disappoint some people is that there are no subtitles available, in any language. A real shame, if you ask me, as those with hearing impairments will not be able to enjoy this fine show! [​IMG]



    EXTRAS, EXTRAS!!!


    The extras, included on Disc Four, are as follows:

    Deleted Scenes
    There are a total of 9 deleted scenes (non-anamorphic widescreen), running approximately 10-minutes, included. These scenes, which are rather inconsequential, can be viewed either individually or as one continuous reel. They are entitled:

    --- Taste Buds
    --- What I Want
    --- Life Line
    --- The Envelope
    --- Just Show Up
    --- Campus Tour
    --- Filing In
    --- The Real Story
    --- Organizing Candy

    I do not want to spoil the experience of watching these deleted scenes for you, so I will purposely withhold details on their content, but I will say this: Honestly, most of what was cut was just a line of dialogue or two from a particular sequence. As such, the majority of these deletions are really not all that worthwhile. Nevertheless, they can be breezed through in 10 minutes, so fans should check them out.


    Dead Like Me…Again
    This congratulatory featurette consists of interviews with the principal cast (Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Jasmine Guy, Laura Harris, and Callum Blue, among others), as well as a nominal amount of behind-the-scenes footage. Basically, the participants offer their thoughts on what makes the series special, and how the characters have evolved from the first season to the second, and how great all of their fellow actors are.

    Running only 11 minutes, this featurette is brief, and not particularly informative, so it is a bit of a disappointment. Frankly, it contains nothing that fans of the show do not already know, or that would not be obvious from just watching the series’ episodes.


    Putting Life Into Death
    This series of very short featurettes (1 or 2 minutes each) gives viewers a look at how some of the show’s visual effects are created, through interviews with one of the show’s producers and some of its special effects technicians! The featurettes are entitled:

    --- “Gravelings”
    --- “Dirty Old Man”
    --- “Falling Flower”
    --- “Death Ripple”
    --- “Disco Priest”
    --- “Bouncing Glass”


    Photo Gallery
    Approximately 60 color production/behind-the-scenes photographs are included in this photo gallery.


    Promotional Materials[/i]
    In the “Other MGM Releases” section, viewers can select from:

    --- An “MGM Means Great Movies” promotional piece
    --- The trailer for the Stargate Atlantis Rising DVD
    --- The trailer for the Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season DVD set
    --- The trailer for Stargate: SG-1 DVD Product



    SCORE CARD

    (on a five-point scale)
    Episodes: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    THE LAST WORD
    Dead Like Me really grabbed me during its inaugural season, as a fresh, interesting, and funny series, which is remarkable considering death is usually such a somber and humorless subject. Even more remarkable is that the series noticeably raised its game in season two, with crisper writing and editing, improved acting across the board (which was already good), and very high production values!

    In terms of presentation, MGM has certainly done justice to the show’s sophomore year, as the episodes of Dead Like Me included exhibit excellent visual quality and engaging audio tracks. The extras, including the deleted scenes and some short F/X featurettes, are not very enjoyable or insightful, but the series’ episodes are given a really good A/V treatment, which makes this set worth the coin if you enjoy the series. Just watch out for “gravelings” on the way down to your local DVD outlet. [​IMG] Recommended!!!


    Stay tuned…
     
  2. Alex Wagner

    Alex Wagner Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm so so sad this got cancelled.
    it was such a great show
     
  3. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    An easy sale for me. I loved the show and was saddened to see it end so unceremoniously. While always possible that they'd run out of new ideas, I found Season 2 to have a lot of good concepts really well executed, so I'm really happy we get a nice concluding release.

    I'm still surprised that Showtime pulled the plug. As best I could tell, the series was fairly well received and they seemed generous enough with advertising of it and releasing DVDs that they seemed to still be behind it. The show even seemed to be a bit more frugal with the special effects laden scenes. With luck, some alternate channel will pick up the series. The language would likely have to be toned down a bit, but they weren't exactly the Sopranos either. It could almost make a transition to FX with little change if they were interested in it.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I agree. At least the series went out on a high note, and the final episode of season 2 brings the story to as much of a resolution as something so open-ended could ever have.

    M.
     
  5. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    It's very sad to see this wonderful series come to such a premature end...

    For my wife and I, it was the best Blind Buy ever. We both fell in love with the show and characters...

    TV at its best. Thank goodness for TV on DVD; at least, we'll be able to watch this wonderful show again and again.
     
  6. Shawn Collins

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    I'm hoping a lot fans buy the sets. Perhaps, we could have another Family Guy-like turnaround. Seth MacFarlane has said that the show was picked back up because of the strong box set sales. The only downside here is that DLM was Showtime only and when I was raving about it during the first-runs, no one I knew had ever heard about it.
     
  7. GarySchrock

    GarySchrock Second Unit

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    Showtime is the fox of the cable networks. They seem to like to pull the plug early on shows, or otherwise muck with them. (Odyssey 5 ended early, Jeremiah's seasons mucked with).

    And of course, there's the usual kiss of death: I liked it.

    I haven't actually gotten around to watching much of season 2, but this will let me clear them from the tivo.
     
  8. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    Has there been any news whatsoever about the show migrating to another network for a third season? FX would seem a good choice.
     
  9. RobBenton

    RobBenton Stunt Coordinator

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    I found season 2 to be of less quality then 1. It didn't hold my interest nearly as much and I thought the writing wasn't nearly as witty as the first season. Did anyone else share this view?
     
  10. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    Sorry Rob, I liked it quite a bit. Really hard to say which season I liked more.
     
  11. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

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    Perhaps it will have a Family Guy effect if DVD sales are strong enough?
     
  12. Kenneth Bova

    Kenneth Bova Agent

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    I'm hoping this exact same thing. This show deserves to come back. Hopefully MGM can keep those shelves stocked. I'm kind of nervous about lost sales considering my Best Buy had only 8 copies when they opened. And one went to me.

    Anyone else notice a lack of stock? It's been doing extremely well from what I've been reading on this here web.
     
  13. Nicodemus

    Nicodemus Stunt Coordinator

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    For me the downside was the character arcs which were almost non-existent - there were some development but nothing really which could be called an arc. The three (or four?) episode Ray & Daisy arc was very good, though. Maybe I just didn't understand to watch the show as a standalone series. I was just a bit disappointed with season 2.
     
  14. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    When I went to Best Buy yesterday (Tuesday) to purchase a copy of Dead Like Me, they only had 4 copies! Alas, nor was it out on the display table...but on the shelves. That will not help sales since most purchasers look for new releases on the front table.

    My local Best Buy appears to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of TV on DVD releases. Last week, I couldn't find Tales From the Crypt; this week they had 15 of them, but hidden on the shelf -- that'll get a lot of sales, not.

    Their prices, these days, for older sets are off the Richter scale! I saw Sopranos Season III for $99.00, while right next to it Season II was $79.00! Season V was $89.00 -- what's with that! I could do better at Blockbuster... [​IMG]
     
  15. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    Online you could always do a lot better still.
     
  16. Mikah Cerucco

    Mikah Cerucco Cinematographer

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    Best Buy is not attempting to compete with Blockbuster's previousl-viewed prices as they sell new merchandise.
     
  17. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    Ordered mine today from Amazon, along with ST:Insurrection SCE. Had a coupon so with free shipping and my A9 discount it came to $29 for both.
     
  18. RobBenton

    RobBenton Stunt Coordinator

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    For anyone who doesn't know already the same guy who did dead like me did a short lived show on fox called "Wonderfalls" which has similar characters and setup and is also well written and has the same dark sense of humor and offbeat characters. If you like Dead like me it is worth checking out for sure as it is on DVD now.
     
  19. EricW

    EricW Cinematographer

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    thanks for the heads up. i'd heard of the name of the show before but just thought it was one of many "crtitically liked but short lived shows". didn't know it was from the same guy that did Dead Like Me. picked it up on the way home and watched the first two eps. funny and has potential.
     
  20. Rhoq

    Rhoq Supporting Actor

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    Alright, I just began watching Season 2 (the first 2 episodes of Disc One).

    I first caught the show the night Season One premiered on Showtime. I had only seen a few other episodes of the series prior to the DVD release. I bought the first season set last year and thought it was great.

    I never was able to remember that Season Two was on, so I missed it on Showtime. I had the mentality of "I'll just see it on DVD". Just with these first 2 episodes of the second season, it is easy to tell how much the show has matured. It's like watching a finely tuned machine at work. The writing seems to be better, the characters seem to really have their footing and if the entire second season is like this, it easily bows the excellent first season away.

    Cancelling 'Dead Like Me' was a huge mistake for Showtime.
     

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