Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blog DVD Review: Defying Gravity - The Complete First Season

Welcome to another edition of blog DVD reviews. This week we take a look at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Defying Gravity: The Complete First Season. Defying Gravity was the multi-nationally produced series that aired on ABC and CTV this past summer about 8 astronauts in the year 2052 on a six-year mission through the Solar System. See my blog DVD review of Defying Gravity: The Complete First Season:

Defying Gravity: The Complete First Season (Fox, $49.98) brings all 13 episodes, including the final five episodes that never aired in the U.S., of this multi-nationally produced series on DVD. The series has been said it was Grey's Anatomy in space with mythology like of LOST. An international team of four men and four women in 2052 undertake the most ambitious exploration in the history of mankind - a six-year, grand tour of the solar system. But space travel is a fool's game as passions rise, relationships blossom, and tensions mount as veteran astronaut Maddux Donner and his vivacious crew mates rocket toward their mysterious destiny, driven by a dark, otherworldly force to the very edge of the madness - and beyond. Defying Gravity stars Ron Livingston (Maddux), Malik Yoba (Ted), Laura Harris (Zoe), Eyal Podell (Mintz), Christina Cox (Jen), Florentine Lahme (Nadia), Paula Garc├ęs (Paula), and Dylan Taylor (Steve) all on the Antares spaceship. Also starring are Ty Olsson (Rollie), Zahf Paroo (Ajay), Andrew Airlie (Goss), Karen LeBlanc (Eve), Maxim Roy (Claire) and Peter Howitt (Trevor).

All 13 episodes from season are here including the final five episodes that were never broadcast in the United States on ABC. In Canada, CTV/SPACE aired all 13, while in the United Kingdom only the first five episodes and the last two episodes aired. Due to low ratings everywhere, the show is canceled, but this DVD is still for some reason called "the complete first season." The show is good, but at times the show seems very slow and boring. Maybe because of the flashbacks? Anyway, the memorable episodes include "Pilot," where four male and four female astronauts prepare for a six-year mission aboard the spaceship Antares. In "H2IK," the Antares crew loses control over power, heat and gravity after a series of unexplained system failures and has to face its first major crisis. In the final episode aired in the U.S., "Love, Honor, Obey," the crew of the Antares is threatened by a close solar flare and in the meantime, the mysterious element in Pod 4 sends out a siren call no one can resist. In the first unaired episode, "Eve Ate the Apple," the crew finally learns about the hidden element in Pod 4 and the true nature of their mission when the Antares draws nearer to Venus. In "Venus," it's the day of the Venus landing, an historic and dangerous event likely to alter the lives of everyone involved. And finally in the finale, "Kiss," after landing on the burning surface of Venus, Zoe walks toward a sound only she can hear, drawn by her destiny into almost certain destruction.

Packaging has a nice case with a blue and white color scheme and six of the astronauts are on the cover: Ted, Nadia, Maddux, Zoe, Paula, and Jen -- all in their astronauts suits. A shot of the Antares spaceship is on the top. The back cover has information on the series & set and a list of special features and some episodic photos, along with a cast photo just about the entire gang. Inside the case are the discs of course. But first on the left panel, we have a disc-by-disc breakdown with episode titles and list of special features. We have a little holder that holds all four discs. The first plastic holder holds discs one and two, with disc one on the front side and disc two on the back side. Then there is another holder that does the same with discs three and four. It's like flipping pages on a book. Nice and easy and nothing overlaps and there is no disc on a panel itself. Good packaging choice by 20th Century Fox. On the right panel we see a shot of the moon, I believe, As for disc artwork, disc one has a shot of the Antares in space and holds episodes 1-3. Disc two has a shot of two hands with gloves that seem to be about to touch and holds episodes 4-7. Disc three has a shot of the headgear of a spacesuit ans holds episodes 8-11, in which the latter three of this disc are unaired episodes to us in the U.S. And finally disc four has a shot of an astronaut from his right side holding his headgear and has episodes 12-13 along with all the special features.

The menu screen has Play All, Episode Selection, Language Selection, and Extras. Extras is just on disc four. Language Selection says we can have English 5.1 audio (the only choice) but we do have a choice to turn on subtitles in English, French or Espanol. It should be called Subtitles or something, since we can't change the language in audio. Episode Selection menu has episode title along with a decent size synopsis of the episode. Nicely done. The main menu is in space and we see Earth in the background as the Antares spaceship is looking down on Earth. The theme music from the series is playing in the background on the main menu. Auto previews are playing before the menu comes on disc one only such as for the Family Guy and Stargate Universe DVDs.

There are about 12 chapter stops per episode. Yes, that is a ton! Maybe a little too much. The video and audio is superb, as it should be since it is a series that just aired this summer. The video is in widescreen and for those who watched it on ABC, will like it even more this way, if you don't get ABC HD! I'm not sure how CTV did it in Canada, but I'm sure it was in HD there, too. Each episode runs approx. between 42-44 minutes. Since it is a new series, I doubt anything is edited. There is no mention on the packaging of any music replacements either, and I didn't notice anything missing, as I did watch the 8 episodes that aired on ABC. Here are the runtimes for each episode:
Disc one
1. Pilot - 44:02
2. Natual Selection - 41:56
3. Threshold - 42:15

Disc two
4. H2IK - 43:03
5. Rubicon - 42:06
6. Bacon - 42:16
7. Fear - 42:09

Disc three
8. Love, Honor, Obey - 42:03
9. Eve Ate the Apple - 42:09 (unaired)
10. Deja Vu - 43:04 (unaired)
11. Solitary - 42:11 (unaired)

Disc four
12. Venus - 43:06
13. The Kiss- 41:43

Moving on to the extras, we have them all on disc four. The first one is the best one, a nice featurette running 10:32 called "Mission Accomplished: A Look at Defying Gravity." The producers and stars talk about the series, their characters, and the plot of the show. Interviewed are Jim Parriot (creator/executive producer), Michael Edelstein, Ron Livingston, Laura Harris, Florentine Lahme, Paula Garces, Dylan Taylor, Christina Cox, Malik Yoba, Ty Olsson, Peter Howitt, Maxim Roy, Eyal Podell, Zahf Paroo, Karen LeBlanc, and Andrew Airlie. It's a good looking cast, isn't it? The next extra is "Photo Slide Show." It is split up into five categories as we get photos of Space Craft Design (0:55), Set Design (3:05), Costume & Prop Design (1:04), Production Graphics (1:47), and Promotional Photography (0:15). Then finally there are "Deleted Scenes." Every episode except one have deleted scenes. It goes by episode title. Pilot (7:48), Natural Selection (0:15), Threshold (1:15), H2IK (0:56), Rubicon (1:04), Bacon (1:49), Fear (0:38), Love Honor Obey (1:06), Deja Vu (1:52), Solitary (0:23), Venus (0:22), and Kiss (2:08). The finale (Kiss) has an alternate ending! So if you wanted to know, the only episodes that does not have deleted scenes is Eve Ate the Apple. Some just have one deleted scene, some have many.

I of course highly do recommend any fan to pick up this set, especially since it has five unaired episodes. And if you never have watched the show, I think you should pick it up and try it. It's only 13 episodes and the cast is very good looking. The series is canceled, but I really hope most of the cast goes on to other ABC series or pilots. I especially want to see Ron Livingston, Malik Yoba, Christina Cox, Laura Harris, and Paula Garces on other series! They all stood out on this show. Cox is stunning, isn't she? Perhaps she can go on Grey's Anatomy? I can totally see Livingston and Yoba on Grey's as well. Anyway, this show had a good concept but at times it felt strange and slow, which is too bad because the cast is excellent. Another problem was the constant use of flashbacks. It got confusing after a bit. I'm sure if it were given a chance of more than 13 episodes, it would have found itself. I still need to see the five unaired episodes in full, but from what I saw the last two episodes were very good. I like the nicknames the show used, too, like "Paula Puke." Pick the set up and you don't have to go on a six-year mission to do so!

-- Reviewed by Pavan
(3.5/5 stars)

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Related links: Full DVD Reviews Page
Defying Gravity Page

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, October 24

Kevin Can Wait - "Beat the Parents" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Kevin and Donna are thrilled when their son, Jack, makes friends with a boy from school, Grayden (Graydon Peter Yosowitz), however, when Donna and Kevin don’t hit it off with Grayden’s arrogant father, Vic (Ray Romano), and his pushy wife, Brandi (Lindsay Broad), they set out to sabotage the boys’ new friendship. Matt Romano guest stars as Vic’s second son, Braden.

Man with a Plan - "Pilot" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Golden Globe Award winner Matt LeBlanc stars as Adam, a contractor who starts spending more time with his three kids when his wife, Andi, goes back to work and discovers the truth all parents eventually realize—their little angels are maniacs.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Godmama Drama" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Oleg and Sophie’s plan to have Max and Caroline as Barbara’s godparents is derailed when Oleg’s domineering mother, Olga (Mercedes Ruehl), arrives from the Ukraine for the baby’s baptism and fires Max and Caroline from their godparent duties.

The Odd Couple - "Food Fight" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Oscar learns that his favorite hangout, Langford’s, is in financial trouble, he impulsively asks Felix to help save it, without considering the disastrous consequences. Also, Felix tries to make his mark on the restaurant when the owner, Fred Langford (Fred Willard), puts him in charge for a few days.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Monday, October 24

  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kate Micucci (Raising Hope/The Big Bang Theory) - Kate is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends) - Matt appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.