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TV on Blu-Ray

Published January 5, 2009 in DVD News
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
ChuckChuck
You think HDTV looks great. Now that TV seasons are coming out on Blu Ray, they look even better than broadcast standards. Here is how some of the major TV on Blu Ray releases improve on even the colorful detail of their TV broadcasts.

TV in High-Def


Chuck – I was waiting for a big action upgrade from broadcast on Blu Ray, but Chuck only maintains. It looks oddly grainy, which you don’t get on TV. And it’s digital grain so it doesn’t even look like film. The colors sure are bright but the clarity isn’t quite Blu Ray to me. Oddly, the credits and the memory flashes clear up, but that’s not the main body of the show.

Dexter – Now, Dexter looks awesome. It’s perfectly clear and the bright, sunlit colors of Miami shine. Maybe some scenes are softer focus but that’s better than grainy. There’s plenty of detail in people’s clothes and their faces in close-up, plus the gritty crust of crime scenes and other seedy locations. Flashbacks are colored by artistic lighting so the series captures a lot of different aesthetics in HD.

Firefly - As one of the early shows shot in HD, Firefly is not the ultimate technical example of the format. There’s a little grain and only about half of the details show through. It still makes the show look more like a film though. You get some grit, some shiny space stuff and some lavish sets and costumes in vibrant color and lush detail.

Grey’s Anatomy - Grey’s is perfectly clear. Maybe it’s the flat lighting of the hospital, but miscellaneous scenes in other surroundings hold up too. All those pretty actors’ faces look magnificent, and that’s about all your looking at. It’s not the most visual show, hospital waiting rooms and Ors and all, but you get a clear glimpse at your favorite drama queens.



Heroes - Set in metropolitan cities, Heroes looks way grittier on Blu Ray. The actors chiseled faces look more grizzled with stubble detail. The colors pop more vibrantly adding more to the comic book feel. This is the TV DVD that looks the most drastically superior to the NBC HD broadcasts.

Lost - Interestingly, scenes on the island look pretty much the same on Blu Ray as they do in broadcast HD. There are a few more details and distinctions in manmade additions to the island, like compounds and that freighter out in the ocean. But flashbacks/flashforwards to the real world are crisper, grittier, more detailed. That’s where it looks like Lost: The Movie, not Lost: The Series.

Supernatural – This show is both clear and gritty with detail. When it’s the boys talking with each other or guest stars, it’s clear. When they’re on the scene, you’ll see the details of the settings. It’s all atmosphere so you’ll linger on the specs of dust or chips in paint and wallpaper or smoke billowing. It’s spoooooooky. Visual effects or makeup prosthetics pop out with their shocking color and detail.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – They manage to make a show each week that looks like The Terminator and now the Blu Ray continues the quality. It’s actually better than the Blu Ray for the original film, and comparable to T2, though that’s no the praise this deserves. The Blu Ray clarity and color shows off every detail of the production design, whether it’s the battlefield of the future or a present day robot bloodbath. I always forgive the visual effects because it’s the only way they can do terminators week to week. So the difference between CGI and actual on set work is even starker on Blu Ray but I’m in it for the creative ideas, and it still looks better than Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, I said it.

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Fred Topel
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