We continue with our look at the year's best releases, so far... This time we're focusing on the Blu-rays we've seen from the realm of television.
Television just keeps getting better and better on Blu-ray. This year we've seen a number of releases that have gone above and beyond!
Studios like HBO have continued producing demo-quality content, while British television has made a dramatic surge, taking over many of the spots in this top ten list. Then there are the older series, which are getting spruced up like never before as they hit high definition home media.
Sure it amounted to a simple advertisement of the future sets of 'Star Trek: TNG' that are coming out soon, but it was a great way to show fans of the series why upgrading to Blu-ray for this show is necessary. I thought it provided a great introduction to what we can expect to see when the series finally starts hitting Blu-ray in its entirety. I, for one, was sold on the extensive amount of time that was put into the show's restoration. It was nice to have a cheaply priced disc that simply let you make up your own mind on if you were going to purchase the more pricey sets later on down the road. With all that said, this is the first one to get kicked off the list once we finally see what Paramount has in store for us when the first season hits Blu-ray.
A TV show on Cinemax that wasn't ridiculous softcore porn? Could it be true? Still, it can't be good right? I mean it's on Cinemax. What's that you say? It was originally produced across the pond? Well, they usually make some stand up shows. Maybe I'll give it a try…
Hey, that was great fun! It's violent, sexy, and as tense as '24' ever was. Now this is an action show. It feels like it has the budget of a film, rather than that of a TV show. It's exciting, and surprisingly emotional in parts. Really, 'Strike Back' has it all.
Who knew Kelsey Grammer could be so mean? He's ruthless here. Downright despicable really. 'Boss' is a well-crafted political drama about the mayor of Chicago (Grammer) trying his hardest to hold onto his political power. Starz really reached with 'Spartacus' and seemed to come up with a show that was heavy on the style, but a little light on substance. 'Boss' is every bit as risqué as 'Spartacus,' but with deep characters and worthwhile storylines to match.
'Downton Abbey' took the soap opera formula, stuck it in the pre-war era, and created surprisingly compelling television. On paper this really isn't the type of series I'd even give a chance to. A period drama about servants and the people they serve isn't something that I'm normally be interested in, however, the goings on at Downton sucked me in. It's hard to explain why I enjoy the show so much. I just do (and no, my wife isn't making me say this).
6. 'George Gently: Series 4'
If there is one show that Acorn Media puts out that you simply must pay attention to it’s the 'George Gently' releases. 'Gently' is one of the most well-written and well-acted detective procedurals that I've ever come across. Each episode is feature-length, so they're able to build on the characters, creating living, breathing people instead of stereotypical character cut-outs. The show is set in the 60s and routinely deals with hot-button issues of the day. Best of all, the mysteries are almost impossible to predict, and even if you do predict some of it, there are inevitably some surprising twists along the way.
5. 'Breaking Bad: Season 4'
It's one of the hottest shows on television right now, and for good reason. Bryan Cranston, usually an actor who plays loveable characters, has gone against type (much like Kelsey Grammer in 'Boss') and has morphed into one of the scariest SOBs in the history of TV. Walter White is certainly a key reason 'Breaking Bad' is such a good show. Not only is Walter White a force on screen, but the entire series is perfectly crafted. To quote reviewer Luke Hickman, "If the Coen Brothers wrote a television series, it would be 'Breaking Bad.'"
4. 'Frozen Planet'
Have you watched 'Frozen Planet' yet? No? Why not?! Get on it as soon as you can, because this is another winner from the nature documentary folks at the BBC. They've redefined the nature documentary and have kept producing visually informational docs about the world around us. 'Frozen Planet' features just as much stunning photography as 'Planet Earth' or 'Life.' Some of the time lapse photography in this is simply mind-blowing. Watching the underwater ice crystals form and slowly travel to the ocean floor is some of the best footage I've ever seen in high definition.
3. 'Sherlock: Season 2'
I love me some British television, but I think the reimagining of 'Sherlock' in modern times is the best of the bunch. This is a fantastically addictive show with only one flaw – they produce too few episodes. It's a good thing that each episode is feature-film length, however, I still can't get enough 'Sherlock' to keep me satisfied. We've spoken so much about great performances, so Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes cannot be understated. He makes for a delightfully fun, energetic, and sarcastic version of the famous detective.
2. 'Treme: Season 2'
Quietly, HBO's 'Treme' does its thing. It doesn't get as much fanfare or publicity as some other TV shows do, but it is, without a doubt, the most human of all the series on television. If you haven't gotten into 'Treme' you really should. It's a complex story about how a wide swath of New Orleans residents begin picking up the pieces after Hurricane Katrina. Plus, both of the seasons that have been put out by HBO have some of the best quality high-def audio that you'll find on a television series.
1. 'Game of Thrones: Season 1'
It's the best show on TV. No really, it is. If you don't agree then The Mountain will come looking for you and make you agree. HBO's release of the first season was magnificently put together. Everything from the video, to the audio, to the huge extent of special features, this was an amazing set. If you're a collector of TV on Blu-ray then the first season of 'Game of Thrones' definitely belongs on your shelf.
What are some of your favorite television releases of the year? Let us know by following the link below so we can discuss this further in the forums.