New to Blu: December 8-14 (TV)

Two of this week’s releases sum up the joy and frustration of watching TV shows on Blu-ray.

The final season of Heroes bows here months after being on sale elsewhere because of a TV holdback while Bored to Death goes straight to Blu-ray because Kiwi broadcasters shunned it.

US cable shows can be a tough sell on free-to-air TV, and Bored to Death risks living up to its title more than most if you’re not in the mood for a kooky private eye parody about a pulp fiction nut who becomes a gumshoe.

The Los Angeles Times likened it to a cross between Flight of the Conchords and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours while the New York Times thought it “as idiosyncratic and delightful” as Curb Your Enthusiasm.

But USA Today said it was “tailor-made for people who hate TV” while Variety reckoned it was a “wan, younger, low-stakes version of Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery — and winds up demonstrating the gap between literature and television”.

Blu-ray reviewers were split, too. dubbed it “a television rarity: a sharp genre satire and quirky noir comedy that breaks the rules and defies expectation”, and rated its HD audio and video 4/5.

But Film Freak Central awarded the series an “absolutely mediocre two stars” and said the transfer “maintains a wamrth typical of HBO productions, but it hums with a low-level noise that grows agitated against greens and greys, and deep blacks swallow up the texture”.

It’s hard to imagine much local business for Heroes: Season 4 given most fans already will have imported a region-free copy or downloaded the series.

For those who have waited, is the Blu-ray worth the extra cost? Hi-Def Digest was withering about both the final 19 episodes and their HD quality — “dreadful” — whereas DVD Verdict thought the video, audio and extras much stronger than the content (“solid and comparable to past seasons Universal has issued on Blu”).

Also new this week are season one of The Vampire Diaries, season six of Entourage (and the first to be released on Blu-ray), seasons 1-7 of the WWII whodunit, Foyle’s War, and the anime series, Casshern Sins. said Entourage’s Blu-ray debut is “sharp and striking … brimming with rich colours, punchy primaries, and decently resolved blacks”, and while it “doesn’t flex as much supplemental muscle as it should”, the three audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes shorts earned two thumbs up.

The Vampire Diaries may not have been the hit TV2 hoped for but DVD Authority predicts “fans will certainly love this Blu-ray release as the image is near flawless” while AV Maniacs praised the “very strong” detail and skin tones but noted “minor problems with mpeg compression artifacts and aliasing”.

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