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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Roswell: The Complete First Season (1999)

"I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird."
- Liz Parker (Shirri Appleby)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: February 16, 2004

Stars: Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr
Other Stars: Colin Hanks, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl, Majaranda Delfino, William Sadler
Director: various

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing offensive
Run Time: 16h:08m:12s
Release Date: February 17, 2004
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BB-B- B

DVD Review

My friends call me a snob, saying that I trash movies I dislike until I am blue in the face while engaging in heated debate with someone who does not share my opinion on a film I treasure. I do not find myself to be that kind of snob; I am, however, a confessed television snob. I watch the same programs each and every week, and rarely do I try anything new unless I am prodded by my girlfriend or I happen to hear rave reviews. The downside of this is that I sometimes miss programs that are deserving of some level of applause, case in point the teen drama Roswell, a series that I once disregarded as Saved By the Bell crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and yes, I was wrong.

Set in Roswell, New Mexico, the series begins in a diner called The Crashdown Cafe where Liz (Appleby) works on a bright afternoon. Two men begin to argue, which eventually spills over into a fight where a gun is drawn and Liz is hit in the stomach by a stray bullet. For all intents and purposes Liz is dead, until Max (Behr) approaches and heals her simply by placing his hand upon her wound, making it disappear completely. It immediately becomes evident that Max is not as he seems, and neither are his friends Isabel (Heigl) and Michael (Fehr).

It is soon discovered that the trio are the result of an alien crash landing in the late 1940s, and they had been kept in incubation until the early 1980s when they emerged looking about six years old, and more importantly, human. While not menacing, they each have special powers that they are afraid may spell the end of their lives if discovered. The person they fear most is the local sheriff, Jim Velanti (Sadler), who has suspicions stemming from the shooting, and whose chief piece of evidence is that Liz's uniform has a bullet hole through it.

Liz and her friends Maria (Delfino) and Colin (Hanks) are the only three humans to know the secret of the three, and they set out to help Max, Isabel, and Michael find the truth about their existence. This leads to a discovery that not only is the FBI hot on the case, but that there might be a fourth alien who is on the run as a serial killer.

Roswell is a hard series to put into one particular category. It is equal parts science fiction thriller, teenage soap opera, and comedy, and the series is surprisingly solid throughout. The writing is consistently sharp, especially for Max and Liz in the second episode where what may seem like a general conversation of getting to know each other becomes a general history of Max's time on Earth and why things are the way they appear.

On the flip side, there are many problems that build up over the course of this inaugural season. Mainly, if the aliens have such special powers that could endanger their lives if discovered, why do they perform their abilities on such a large stage? Sure, seeing of one the teens play a CD simply by holding it in his hand is a neat trick, but it seems over the course of the season that these abilities exist only as a matter of convenience. The quality of the episodes varies as well. I liked the episodes that set up the sries as we slowly learn about the characters and their situations, but towards the middle of the season, the stories begin to rely on romance, so that overall it becomes very hit and miss.

The casting is done well. The roles of Maria and Colin by Delfino and Hanks, while not possessing the biggest parts, bring a nice dose of humor and energy to the goings on. Behr and Appleby do not share as much chemistry as is needed to propel the show forward, but they do a nice enough job to get by.

And that is the general sentiment I have toward Roswell after viewing the first season: It does just enough to coast by when it should be doing something, anything, to separate itself from the pack.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Each episode is presented in the original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio as was seen in the original broadcasts. In each effort colors are vibrant, mainly the interior of The Crashdown Cafe, and show no bleeding throughout. Blacks are done nicely with no grain in the nighttime scenes, of which there are several. I noticed some slight instances of edge enhancement on occasion, but these were isolated.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Each episode carries a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Ambient sounds are present in the rear speakers and the mix is very effective at reinforcing the feel of what is on screen. In the exterior scenes, small sounds of animals and other things fill the room, while the interior shots in the café bring the room alive with rattling dishes and indecipherable conversations. Dialogue is done well with no dropouts or distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by producer/writer Jason Katims, director David Nutter, actors Shirri Appleby, Majrandha Delfino, writer Thalia St. John, director Patrick Norris
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Six episodes feature commentary by the cast and crew: The Pilot, Blood Brother, The Balance, Sexual Healing, Crazy, and Destiny. There is little to be learned from any of the tracks, which deal with either the direction of the show, details on the script, or simply the actors gushing over their peers and how they filmed some of the more difficult scenes.

A deleted scene is offered for The Pilot, and while it seems strange to offer only one deleted scene over a twenty-two episode season, if the overall quality of others is on par with this one, we may be lucky. The scene featured is rather short and I am still not sure I know what it was about.

Two documentaries are offered, one that is largely promotional and another that focuses on the adaptation from the series of books the show was based upon. The longer of the two is titled Area 51 and features interviews with the cast and crew.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

I was underwhelmed as a whole by Roswell. Although the first season is certainly a fine effort, it is too inconsistent to earn lavish praise.

 


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