Saturday, June 02, 2007

At long loooong last

Three years after the release of Season Two on DVD, Sony finally get around around to putting The Shield’s third season onto WH Smiths’ shelves.

One of my all time favourites, The Shield has never had a weak season, and although the third is perhaps not the best when viewed on its own, pretty much everything in successive seasons built on elements introduced here (although ultimately, everything comes back to Terry). This is where we first meet Mara, cat strangling Dutchboy, and where the seeds of Lem’s eventual destruction are sown. And of course, who can forget Acevada’s grim sexual assault, the repercussions of which are still playing out in the latest, sixth, season?

The set comes with all the special features of the Region 1 release, which means plenty of great commentaries, but also the acclaimed documentary “Breaking 315,” an eighty minute masterpiece taking us into the heart of the writers’ room as they break each of the six stories featured in this episode, and which also takes us into casting sessions, on set, and into the editing room. Highly educational viewing.

Like the previous Region 2 releases, the episodes are presented in widescreen, which is very strange to go back to after watching recent, downloaded, episodes in 1.33:1. The full-screen ratio is showrunner Shawn Ryan’s preferred, as it was Joss Whedon’s in the case of Buffy, and yet the studio have gone their own way here, as Fox did with the Buffy sets (additionally, both shows aired in widescreen when shown on UK telly). I haven’t seen enough of this set yet to know if the wider picture results in abominations like this, from Buffy’s fourth season episode This Year’s Girl:

Yes, that is the camera operator you can see on the far left, for heavens’ sake. If the frame remains free from such atrocities, I’m happy to watch The Shield (and Buffy, on the whole) in widescreen, although I appreciate Ryan and Whedon’s intentions in framing their shows the way they do, and believe those intentions should be honoured. In this case, I’ll happily take what I’m given for the opportunity to watch this fantastic show again, for the first time in three years.

A great release, a long time coming. And as if to make amends for dragging their feet for so long, Sony will be releasing Season Four on the 2nd July, the UK airing of which was the subject of the eighth post in this blog, way back in July 2005, 284 posts ago.