New to Blu: TV > November 21-27

American Horror Story at last gets to be seen here in HD – on Blu-ray.

MediaWorks consigned the award-winning hit to SD channel Four instead of showcasing it in 1080i on TV3.

“One of the increasingly few television shows to be shot on film — the Super 35 system, in particular — American Horror Story has a visual aesthetic that’s grittier than comparatively glossy, digitally-shot TV series.

“This works well with the show’s tone and setting — particularly during flashbacks to the house’s previous inhabitants — but be aware that the film stock is quite grainy, especially during the darker scenes.”

“The cinematography does a great job of engendering an eerie, dark atmosphere, and while the transfer can be a bit rough around the edges, the video is solid.”

“Colour is muted throughout the 12 episodes (a blessing sometimes when an episode is particularly bloody), but it’s consistently rendered throughout the run of the series.”

Extras include a chatty commentary on the pilot episode, and four featurettes. Three are on the making of the show, while the fourth is a humourous look at the house’s fictional back story.”

An “Unmasked Limited Edition” of American Horror Story, complete with character cards and a T-shirt, also is for sale from JB Hi-Fi.

Exclusive to JB Hi-Fi, for $169, is the week’s other big TV-on-Blu premiere: the entire 10-season run of Friends,

“The transfers featured on this Blu-ray set are very similar, though not exactly identical, to those found on the HD channels. Each and every one of the 236 episodes in this show are presented here in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 encode.”

Friends was presented in a 1.37:1 or 4:3 television aspect ratio, so did re-mastering the series to 1.78:1 or 16:9 compromise the series visual component?

“As far as I can tell, no.

Friends was shot on 35mm film, and apparently the cinematography was framed 1.78:1 safe, as a means of future proofing the series for an eventual high definition implementation.

“Image sharpness and fine detail appear very good, but there are some softer looking shots present, when optical fades were executed as part of each episode’s original editing.”

“Perfect? No. Terrific? Still cold. Great? Getting a wee bit warmer. Good? Worth the cost of admission? There you go.

Friends wasn’t primed to produce a knockout Blu-ray, and yet its video presentation is arguably the highlight of the set.”

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