Shameless: The Complete First Season (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus hangs out with the family down the street that most people avoid...
Shameless, the UK show known for its depiction of “that” family that lives in your town, transports to the US. The US Gallagher family have much the same issues as the UK show, namely Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) is a mean drunk. His family are held together with the hard work of eldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and between the rowdy bunch of kids they struggle through paying bills, getting into trouble and generally unsavory situations by sticking together and being a family.
I’d only had a passing relationship with the original UK Shameless, so I had nothing to hold back my enjoyment of the US take on the Paul Abbott’s drama series. The pilot episode does a solid job at setting scene and the episodes that follow that all of the major Gallagher’s down rocky roads full of shocks, laughs, hardship, romance and of course theft. There’s plenty of that. Oh and sex, a trait the show has gotten a reputation for online as blog site love posting videos of Emily Rossum getting mucky.
The big draw here is Macy. He plays drunk almost a little too well and treads the line between funny and sort of depressing given what we learn about his situation as the season progresses. That said Rossum really grew to impress me here, with a real sense of strength while also feeling very vulnerable in what is largely the central role of the show. Her ups and downs with Steve (Justin Chatwin) throughout the series also added an enjoyable angle to the set up and I have to say I ended up getting quite a bit of amusement from the neighbours and their antics as well as the two eldest Gallagher boys and what they get up to.
I was really warmed to this show the more I watched it. It walks the line between being enjoyable and a little too realistic, sparking the realisation that I’d avoid this family like the plague in real life given their antics. That said, I’d still watch a second season (that features Diora Baird – a total ‘In’ for me with any project) and it’s because even at its most outlandish, crazy, devious or depressing, Shameless somehow manages to find a family dynamic or individual character lift that made me like it more. I’m not sure season 1 totally strikes the right balance throughout but the show certainly has something effective about it and I’d certainly be down for watching more.
For standard definition DVD, this is actually quite a good looking presentation. There’s a semi-documentary look to the show, which gives that independent film feel to everything. This offers some gritty “real life” lighting and camera angles in places but there’s still that sense of glossy TV show throughout. Colours tend to be warmer within the Gallagher home, with browns and oranges and it’s more of a cold, blue and grey affair in the snowy exteriors. Detail is pretty good, elements like Macy’s (usually blood soaked) stubble always feels quite defined. The sets are all layered with trinkets and household stuff feel textured when focused on but can just blur into the background in wider shots. Black levels are solid but have a softer digital look to them from time to time and while the show isn’t exactly colourful, it’s stylised looks work well within the presentation here.
The Dolby Digital track is serviceable for the style of the show. Music is used in the rears while dialogue sits up front. All pretty straight forward but with a good bit of bass from time to time, some variations in ambience quality and with both interior and exterior scenes doing well to create a real life atmosphere in the semi-documentary style the show has.
Disc one comes with 'Bringing Shameless to America' (13:04) which has the creators and cast talk about the conversion and the intentions for the show in the American setting. The commentary on the pilot episode features executive producers John Wells and Andrew Stearn as well as Emmy Rossum. The track offers a complete history of the production and is friendly and full of charming stories about all involved. We're also given a deleted scene.
Disc 2 offers up another strong commentary track on the episode 'Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father'. Some more deleted scenes and 'Shameless: Bringing FUN to Dysfunctional' (14:33) which is an focuses more on the scripts and the actor's response to it.
Disc 3 has 'A Shameless Discussion About Sex'(12:08) looks at the sex in the show (of which there is plenty) via the cast taking questions about it. This is a blast with the young cast and good to see it all treated in a fun way. There's also a Season 2 Sneak Peak (04:32) and the final batch of deleted scenes.
Shameless got better the more I watched it and it's because my fondness for the characters grew I think. There's a good balance of laughs, shocks, sex and good old family drama and even if all of those elements are heightened to extremes sometimes, everything still works. The disc looks good, sounds good and has a good selection of extras as well.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 25th June 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Season 2 Sneak Peak
Easter Egg: No
Cast: William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 0 minutes
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