SRP $79.99 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1 STARZ/ANCHOR BAY

Marketed as a series spin-off of the hit film, "CRASH," STARZ/ANCHOR BAY has released "CRASH: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON" on blu-ray.  As with the film, various characters are focused upon, with the backdrop of L.A. as the setting.  Dennis Hopper stars as former head of a record label, hoping to make a comeback, and rise "once again" to the head of his own production company, now under the leadership of his daughter.  It's hard to decipher whether Hopper's just not right for this part, or if the part isn't right for this series. But, nothing about Ben(Hopper) feels natural.  Even the obvious descent he's made downhill due to drugs and alcohol feels like one of many cliche's permeating this series.  "CRASH", the film, was fantastic. But, a lot of the reason for that film's success, is that while its characters were flawed, they either desired to better themselves, or the better angels of their nature were more visible than the demons. In "CRASH: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON," it's virtually impossible to find much likeable in any of them! "CRASH: THE FILM" successfully weaved the frayed threads of its seemingly disconnected storylines, in such a way as to focus on the important truth that all humanity is connected. "CRASH: THE CABLE SERIES" magnifies just how torn the threads of these storylines really are, and it takes a lot more work for the viewer to tie them together. Thankfully, by the end of the first season, gaps are mostly fixed, but there's just not much "surprise" or any wonderment while watching the series. There's some titillating aspects to the immoral relationship one cop pursues, but the sexuality behind this story arc, wouldn't have felt right in the film, and it only serves to remind the viewer cable success really requires some sex to hook the viewer. Really???(No problem with sexuality, here. But, let's make it help the story, rather than just feel thrown in there!)

Even when certain social issues were only slightly touched upon in the film, it held much more of an afterthought for the viewer than when it's given more time here. More was left to think about during the final moments of the film when illegal Chinese immigrants were released from a van to ponder their new landscape, than the story arc given to Cesar, a Guatemalan risking his life, while skirting the law in efforts to make the US his home. While a series "could" offer more depth to its stories than a film, it's all about the writing, and "CRASH: THE SERIES," while certainly watchable, and at times, interesting, just doesn't offer the fine writing it requires to be a really great series.

With the exception of either Hopper's acting or lack of an interesting character, the supporting cast and characters hold one's attention. There's not a grand-slam "Matt Dillon" kind of surprise to the caliber of these actors, but they do the best possible with what they're given.

STARZ/ANCHOR BAY has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray.  Shot on 16mm film, as was the superior "THE SHIELD," grain is an inherent result, but it actually serves the image well, capturing the gritty feel being sought after. Blacks are typically inky, allowing for excellent detail in darker scenes.  While the level of depth can vary from one scene to the next, typically it's "outstanding!"  Colors appear natural throughout, and some scenes, particularly exterior shots, are amazing! The vast majority of the series displays the kind of jump-off-the-screen type of depth one hopes for with blu-ray! GREAT JOB!

STARZ/ANCHOR BAY has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. While it's a disappointment to find no lossy mix has been included, but being a dialogue-driven show, that alone isn't a major problem. Unfortunately, however, in spite of a few precise and creative ambient effects, the balance to this mix is faulty in a variety of scenes. Dialogue is always sharp and focused, but effects can pop up in the wrong channels and it's hard to discern if this is a technical problem during the mixing for blu-ray or just mediocre mixing of the series!

STARZ/ANCHOR BAY has included some extras, including an alternate finale and character bios, in 1080i.