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Showtime presents
Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season (2004)

"Remember what you always told me? Blood is thicker than marinara sauce."
- Michael (Hal Sparks)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: April 13, 2005

Stars: Gale Harold, Hal Sparks, Peter Paige, Randy Harrison
Other Stars: Sharon Gless, Michelle Clunie, Robert Gant, Thea Gill
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, strong sexual situations, nudity)
Run Time: 13h:00m:00s
Release Date: April 05, 2005
UPC: 758445209228
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AAA- B+

DVD Review

Pay television has been a hotbed for groundbreaking, edgy new shows over the last 5+ years. From The Sopranos to Carnivale new shows continue to take advantage of the lack of limits that are inherent with non-free TV. When Queer as Folk premiered on the Showtime network in 2001, the bar was raised even higher, as this show featured graphic acts of homosexual activity on a regular basis, which had never been done in a television series before, regardless of the network it was on. Since its premiere, other gay-oriented shows like The L Word and, to an extent, Six Feet Under have taken the country by storm as well. With the fifth season about to premiere on Showtime, this pioneering TV show continues to push the envelope episode after episode.

As a heterosexual male, I was naturally a little leery about watching the very first episode of Queer as Folk, but five minutes into it, I was hooked. Sure, the show features some of the most graphic homosexual acts ever filmed, but those scenes are a very minor part of what this show is all about.

The core characters are still around for the fourth season, but their lives are remarkably different than they were when we first saw Brian, Michael, Ted, and Emmett at The Babylon way back in the pilot episode. Still, season four is the best batch of episodes yet, taking these beloved characters down paths they, nor the audience ever expected.

The plot synopses for each episode (again simply numbered instead of getting fancy titles) are as follows:

Episode 401: One of the more heartwarming episodes begins with Brian dealing with his recent hardships, including the loss of his job and lack of money due to that and his large donation to keep Stockwell out of office. Ted leaves rehab even though he probably shouldn't have, and Michael returns from his road trip with Hunter. Episode 402: Brian is doing all he can to gain new clients, Justin can't deal with his friend being gay-bashed, and Emmett and Michael join the "fairies," which is a gay wilderness retreat.Episode 403: Now that Ted is out of rehab, he dwells on what his life will need to next. Brian decides between office spaces, and Justin is initiated into the Pink Posse.Episode 404: With Brian's office finally ready, everything seems fine until a payment isn't received by the deadline. Cody and Justin get the Pink Posse to train in a boxing ring.Episode 405: Cody takes Justin to a firing range, and Ted accepts Brian's job offer at his new company. Meanwhile, Emmett has gotten a place of his own, and Ben finally lets Michael read his manuscript.Episode 406: Michael and Justin hear from a director who wants to turn their "Rage" into a feature film, while Brian and Justin fight over who a guy at The Babylon likes better between them. Ted writes Emmett a letter of amends, which he refuses, and Michael tells Debbie to take it easier on Vic.Episode 407: Brian is shocked to learn that he has testicular cancer, but he is told that he has a 99% chance of survival if that testicle is removed. He's also told that if it isn't removed, it will likely spread. Michael and Ben catch Hunter with marijuana, and everyone attends a funeral of one of their recently deceased friends.Episode 408: Brian comes home from the hospital but lies to everyone, telling them he was in Ibiza. Justin stumbles onto the truth about Brian's illness, however, after which, he travels with Michael to further discuss "Rage" as a Hollywood film."Episode 409" - Justin is livid when Michael tells Brian that they know he's sick. Emmett meets football player, Drew Boyd, who it turns out is a closet homosexual and attracted to him.Episode 410: Brian is increasingly sexually frustrated when he realizes that he can't escape the horrors of his surgery, and a former student of Ben's wants him to give him HIV.Episode 411: Michael and Ben suspect that Hunter is selling himself again when he continues to skip curfew, and Emmett and Drew continue meeting regularly for hot sexual encounters.Episode 412: Brian has been given a clean bill of health, but overdoes it while he's training for the Liberty Ride. Emmett struggles to get over Drew, while Hunter and his new girlfriend decide to take their relationship to the next level.Episode 413: Michael, Ben, Hunter, Ted, and Justin are all getting ready for the Liberty Ride, when they discover that Brian plans to go with them. Justin is asked to pitch "Rage" to some studio executives and Ted overhears people talking about last year's Liberty Ride, which was full of sex and drug use.Episode 414: With the Liberty Ride approaching the border, US immigration won't acknowledge Michael and Ben's joint form, which basically says they are married. With Ted away from his support system back home, temptation rears its ugly head, and Justin receives some good news about "Rage."

The wonders of this show continue to stare us right in the face, as the numerous intermingling storylines always seem to continue to come together seamlessly from episode to episode. One can only hope that the fifth season of Queer as Folk doesn't stray from this wonderful formula.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: This continues to be one of the best looking shows on television, and these transfers bring the incredibly bright, vivid colors to the forefront. The anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentations feature detailed images throughout, with excellent sharpness, and nice blacks and shadow levels. The sequences in The Babylon really show off the colors, and there is barely any dirt or other blemishes to be found.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's both Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 audio options, with the 5.1 being the mix of choice. The house music being played in The Babylon surrounds the viewer, complete with hard, thumping bass, which really adds to the club atmosphere. There's no problem with dialogue clarity, as it's flawlessly integrated into each track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 56 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Queer as Folk: Season Four, The L Word: Season One, Fat Actress, Reefer Madness
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. The Wardrobe Closet: Collection of still photos showing the various fashions seen in Queer as Folk
  2. Peter's "Say Uncle" Trailer: Short clip from Say Uncle, written and directed by Peter Paige
  3. Photo Gallery: Collection of stills from the show
  4. Win an Atlantis Cruise!: Information about a contest
Extras Review: There are a lot of extras packed into Disc 5 of this set, beginning with Behind the Babylon Tour/Los Angeles, a short sequence showing male dancers and a few interviews as well. The Wardrobe Closet is a collection of stills that basically serves as an advertisement for the various designers that are featured in Queer as Folk.

We then touch on actor Peter Paige's filmmaking career in Behind the Scenes of Peter's Directorial Debut, "Say Uncle," and Peter's "Say Uncle" Trailer. Both of these segments compile interviews, on-set footage, and clips from this film that was written and directed by Paige.

There's also a Sneak Peek of Michelle's and Gale's Latest Movie, "The Unseen," a piece with on-set footage and movie clips involving the new movie that actors Michelle Clunie and Gale Harold are appearing in.

The rest of the extras consist of a photo gallery, text-based cast biographies, information on how to win an Atlantis cruise, and previews for other Showtime Entertainment DVD releases.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Queer as Folk continues to be one of the best dramas on television, which is plain to see in Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season. Showtime Entertainment once again does the show proud with an excellent DVD box, complete with solid audio and video, and a healthy batch of fine extra features.

 


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