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MGM Studios DVD presents
Wild Palms (1993)

"It's not like a dream at all. It's not even close."
- Harry Wyckoff (Jim Belushi)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 02, 2006

Stars: James Belushi, Dana Delany, Robert Loggia
Other Stars: Kim Cattrall, Angie Dickinson, Ben Savage, Ernie Hudson, Bebe Neuwirth, Nick Mancuso, Robert Morse, David Warner, Brad Dourif
Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Keith Gordon, Peter Hewitt, Phil Joanou

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:45m:00s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
UPC: 027616927606
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B-B- D-

DVD Review

Wild Palms hit ABC television in 1993, a broadly unconventional Oliver Stone-produced mini-series that seemed to borrow from the David Lynch playbook of Twin Peaks-like storytelling, told by four different directors (including Near Dark's Kathryn Bigelow). Mixing elements of the traditional primetime soaper with sci-fi/virtual reality and corporate conspiracy elements made Wild Palms something of an oddity, an admittedly bold, though meandering experiment that had strong moments but an inconsistent overall vision.

Jim Belushi, looking downright slender, stars as Harry Wyckoff, a fairly ordinary man who finds the fact that his family is literally crumbling around him to be the least of his problems as paranoia about media control over the masses becomes the dominant theme here. Wyckoff is eventually drawn into the gravitational pull of Senator Anton Kreutzer (Robert Loggia), the central heavy as the man behind the use of virtual reality television (and the recurring television-series-within-the-movie, "Church Windows") as a tool to keep the great unwashed in line.

In addition to Belushi and Loggia, the rest of Wild Palms is peppered with a lot of familiar faces, including Kim Delaney, Kim Cattrall, Ernie Hudson, Bebe Neuwirth, David Warner, and Angie Dickinson, and seeing some of these actors moving along the slippery slope of the semi-futuristic noir storyline maybe makes this seem slightly more brash than comfortable. Credit David Lynch for having paved the way with Twin Peaks, and the unevenness of Wild Palms reinforces the notion that quirky for the sake of quirky isn't always enough.

There is a neat level of cyber-punk cool in the way characters speak for much of the Bruce Wagner screenplay, but all of the nuggets of joyously trippy dialogue ultimately can't save this from collapsing under the weight of its chunky runtime. The format of mini-series television cripples this as a viable standalone, where the clear cut padding seems particularly glaring.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.33:1, the debris-free transfer here sports an array of bright colors and consistently natural fleshtones, but that's where the kudos end. The downside is image detail, which is less impressive than the depth of the coloring, and it carries with it some soft edges, giving things like Kim Cattrall's garishly vivid red dress a distracting lack of definition.

Far from reference quality, but a tolerable treatment of a 12-year-old miniseries.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 2.0 surround, and the presentation is largely front-centric, with a moderate sense of depth offset by some minor directional movement. Dialogue is clear at all times, and the musical components, including that stylish Ryuichi Sakamoto score, sound full.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kingdom Hospital
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The sole extra is a trailer for Kingdom Hospital. The mini-series is split into 36 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or French.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

This is a curiously odd little miniseries, heightened by Oliver Stone's involvement as producer and the direction (in part) of Kathryn Bigelow. Intentionally difficult to follow at times, the story shows futuristic promise and moves in carefully manufactured, but subpar David Lynch ways, though it is handcuffed by going on too long.

 


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