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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Hex: The Complete First Season (2006)

"Things have changed. Let's face it: I'm a ghost, you're a witch, and he's a fallen angel. Anything's possible."
- Thelma (Jemima Rooper)

Review By: Ross Johnson   
Published: June 20, 2007

Stars: Christina Cole, Jemima Rooper
Other Stars: Michael Fassbender, Laura Pyper, Amber Sainsbury, Jamie Davis
Director: Andy Goddard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild nudity, mild violence, language)
Run Time: 07h:45m:00s
Release Date: June 05, 2007
UPC: 043396189966
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Let it never be said that there's anything wrong with a good soap opera. Especially when that soap has witches, demons, light nudity, lesbians, ghosts, lesbian ghosts, and so on. The Sky One drama Hex (also seen on BBC America) is, in many ways, England's answer to Buffy or Charmed, borrowing from both. While it never approaches the former's transcendent wit, it does move along much more fleetly than the latter. It's not rocket science, but it is thoroughly addictive.

Cassie and Thelma share a room at Mendenham Hall, a private school (of some sort) set in a remote patch of English countryside. It's unclear exactly what they're studying, but one presumes that the aggressively euro-fashionable students are rich and far more interested in having sex, partying, and treating each other nastily. Cassie is a bit of an outcast, spending most of her time studying and hanging out with her roommate Thelma, who harbors an ill-concealed crush on her straight pal. Sneaking away from the mean girls for a smoke one afternoon, Cassie discovers a mysterious urn that slowly reveals to her some centuries-old family secrets involving witchcraft and an overly familiar demon named Azazeal (Michael Fassbender). She finds herself gaining magical powers and being tested—will she use her powers for good, or give in to the seductive Azazeal? He may be charming with his slick hair and soulful eyes, and he'll pay for dinner, but he only wants Cassie for one thing: to sire his demon spawn and release 200 evil nephilim into the world. That's the show in a nutshell, ranging between consciously tacky and self-serious. I could have done with a bit more of the former, frankly.

While Christina Cole's Cassie is bland-yet-likeable in the manner of relatable leading ladies, Jemima Rooper's Thelma carries the show through wild plot twists and major cast changes. She's funny and poignant, adding a few new tricks and a layer or two to the grand sidekick tradition. As the season progresses, she takes over more of the responsibilities of a lead role, and she deserves to. Cassie is easy enough to root for, and later addition Ella Dee (Laura Pyper) is a fun ass-kicker, but Thelma is the series' heart and soul. Thelma connects in ways that many of the other characters don't, and none of the show's wild plot twists and struggles for tone can break that spell.

The season starts out strong, and maintains its soapy appeal throughout, but things get a bit choppy before the end. The mythology breaks down a bit, the supernatural rules become less clear, and some plotlines and characters get dropped rather abruptly. The upshot of that is, the show doesn't slow down. Rather than languish on threads that aren't going anywhere, it keeps moving. Though I occasionally found myself chucking at the abrupt changes in tone and all its plot twists, I didn't end a single episode without wanting very much to know what would come next. The season ends on a bit of an awkward cliffhanger, since this DVD set splits up the seasons a bit differently than they were on initial broadcast. Though it's a bit of a guilty pleasure, it was tough to reach the end and find that there were no others. It's all for the best, really; a good soap should always leave you wanting more.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.77:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There's a great deal of muddiness throughout. It works to a point in creating a spooky, gauzy mood, but I'm not certain that that's was an intent. The softness isn't particularly distracting, but it is obvious. There aren't any other significant transfer problems, so it's not an awful image presentation, just not a great one.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Things sound a bit tinny here and there, but for the most part the stereo mix is fine. A more dynamic track would have been nice, but the dialogue (in this dialogue-heavy show) is always clear. An adequate track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Seinfeld Season Eight, Casino Royale, Blood and Chocolate, Premonition, The Messengers
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are eight deleted scenes, all located on the first two discs. There's not a great deal of substance there, but they do include some cute additions: Thelma, up to her neck in supernatural mumbo-jumbo, seeks out a self-help seminar, for instance. Not essential, but worth checking out if you've really enjoyed the series.

The other extra is a roughly 23-minute Making of Hex. As these things go, it's not bad. There's a bit of jumping around, and the spoilers come fast and furious, but there's a good deal of substance regarding the special effects, and plot inspirations. There's a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage. Again, if you've enjoyed the show, you'll probably like this. Definitely, though, hold off until you've watched the episodes.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

The whole teen-angst/supernatural soap concept has almost become a genre in and of itself, but it doesn't work for everyone. Hex is a bit self-serious, and doesn't always seem to know where it's going, but it has a great almost-lead in Jemima Roper, and an abundance of thoroughly addictive plot twists. Did I mention lesbians, witches, and just a bit of nudity? What more would you ask?


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