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HBO presents
Six Feet Under: The Complete Fourth Season (2004)

"I don't know. I haven't done much coke."
- Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 22, 2005

Stars: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose
Other Stars: Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Rachel Griffiths, James Cromwell, Justin Theroux, Mena Suvari, Justina Machado
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, strong sexual situations)
Run Time: 12h:00m:00s
Release Date: August 23, 2005
UPC: 026359238420
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A-AA A-

DVD Review

The day that Six Feet Under fans have been dreading has finally come, as the series' final episode airs this week. Those who have watched this fifth and final season will realize that the series' creators have saved the best for last, crafting a nearly perfect send-off for the Fisher family, and delivering one of the most shocking plot twists to ever be written for a television show. The series finale culminates in a truly moving final 15 minutes, and will stay in the hearts of the show's fans for many years to come. Still, to get to the final season, we had to get through Six Feet Under: The Complete Fourth Season, which we can revisit at our leisure, now that it's available on DVD.

As if the show couldn't get any more dire and depressing than it already was during the first three seasons, Season Four takes dread to another level. This batch of episodes is truly difficult to get through, as there really isn't even a glimmer of hope for any of the characters. Nate (Peter Krause) is obsessed with finding out the truth about his wife Lisa's (Lili Taylor) disappearance, even though it is assumed that she committed suicide. The first episode, Falling Into Place jumps right into this storyline, and the writers run with it all the way up to the final shot of the jaw-dropping season finale, Untitled.

The rest of the Fishers aren't exactly having a ball, either. Ruth (Frances Conroy) watches her new husband, George (James Cromwell), delve deeper and deeper in madness and paranoia, as through the course of the season he begins hallucinating and builds a bomb shelter onto the house. This relationship is what really drags this season down, making scenes with George and Ruth almost unwatchable at times (highlighting, however, the way Cromwell resurrects his character in the final season). The always reliable Conroy does what she can to at least make Ruth seem sympathetic towards George, but there's only so much anyone can put up with, especially in a situation like this.

Perhaps the most powerful storyline of the fourth season is the horrible traumatic event that befalls David (Michael C. Hall). While his relationship with Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) is in disarray, David picks up a hitchhiker who winds up robbing him, holding him at gunpoint for hours, and threatening to burn him alive. Naturally, David completely falls apart after the attack, putting his ability to be intimate with Keith in jeopardy, and causing his friends and family to question his sanity.

I don't want to leave out the rest of the bunch, namely the plights of Brenda, Claire, and Rico. Rachel Griffiths has always been one of Six Feet Under's best and underutilized cast members, and she begins to emulate her work in the first couple of seasons here. She starts this round dating Joe (Justin Theroux), a neighbor with whom she seems much more compatible than she ever was with Nate. Griffiths does such an amazing job taking us through Brenda's relationship with Joe, and her desire to help and love Nate. While the Brenda/Nate thing seems to have run its course at this point, Griffiths is as believable as she can be, adding as much as she can to this semi-tired story thread.

Claire is still going through her artist phase, juggling relationships with various men and—thanks to Mena Suvari's appearance in a few episodes—women. Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) gets himself involved in a bit of a predicament. Still married to Vanessa (Justina Machado), he is also dating a hooker on the side who is basically using him to provide for her child and herself. Both Rodriguez and Machado really come into their own over the course of this plotline, with the latter delivering Emmy-worthy performances, especially when she discovers Rico's infidelity.

It's just hard to argue that this season is the worst of the five go-rounds for the show. It's difficult to call a show like this too depressing, since it has pushed the envelope with depictions of death, grief, and sorrow on a weekly basis. In seasons past, there was always at least some glimmer of hope, and that is far from the case here. From David's assault to Nate's discovery of the truth about Lisa, there is literally nothing for these people to be even remotely happy about. Still, the season's finale is a classic episode that leaves us with a hell of a shock, so if you can get through the first 11 installments, you will be greatly rewarded.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There are 12 episodes this time around, and, again, they are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As with previous seasons, the images can't get much sharper and detailed than they are. The vast color scheme is perfectly rendered, with light and dark images sharing the same high-quality attributes. There aren't any problems as far as grain, dirt, or other print flaws go, as overall clarity remains consistent throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation for each episode is on par with previous sets, in that it makes very liberal use of the surrounds, especially during the music-heavy sequences. There's nice bass presence during those scenes as well, but none of these audio elements gets in the way of the excellent dialogue's clarity.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 72 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
3 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Falling Into Place - Writer Craig Wright2. Parallel Play - Director Jeremy Podeswa3. That's My Dog - Director Alan Poul4. Terror Starts At Home - Writer Kate Robin5. The Dare - Director Peter Webber6. <
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Season Three Recap - Collection of clips from the third season.
Extras Review: Another season of Six Feet Under on DVD means another great extras collection, including seven audio commentary tracks this time out. Each of these are very detailed, with their respective participants providing fans with a unique perspective on what goes into the making of these shows as well as the series as a whole.

There's a Season Three Recap on Disc 1 that gets us up to speed with what happened in the show's previous batch of episodes. Each episode features a "Previously On" and a "Next On" segment, as well as a Series Index that provides information about them.

The rest of the bonus material is on Disc 5, beginning with Cut By Cut: Editing Six Feet Under (18m:30s), which centers on what it took to shape each show, with excellent, informative interviews featuring Alan Ball, Alan Poul, and the various people behind the editing process.

An outstanding, nearly 16-minute segment titled Costas Plus Cast Interview features the great Bob Costas at the helm with the four principal Fishers: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, and Lauren Ambrose.

Bonus Music from the New Six Feet Under Soundtrack not only allows you to view the tracklist for this CD, but you can also listen to (audio only) the Six Feet Under Title Theme (Fila Brazillia Remix) by Thomas Newman.

Rounding out the extras are three scenes deleted from the episode, Can I Come Up Now? These are interesting clips, but wouldn't have added much to the overall story.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

It truly is a sad day now that this groundbreaking series is officially over, but through the magic of DVD, each and every episode of the show will live on. Six Feet Under: The Complete Fourth Season is yet another fine set from HBO Home Video, one that captures the excellent audio and video that were present when these episodes aired on the network. The extras are pretty much status quo, which should more than please the show's rabid fans.


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