Saturday, January 23, 2010
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 Garcés (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:
1. Pilot - 44:02
2. Natual Selection - 41:56
3. Threshold - 42:15
4. H2IK - 43:03
5. Rubicon - 42:06
6. Bacon - 42:16
7. Fear - 42:09
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)
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
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