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HBO Comedy Double-Feature

Veep: The Complete Fourth Season


Following the whirlwind day-to-day existence of the onetime VP and now-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Veep takes a sharp, satirical look at the insular world of Washington politics. While Selina has ascended to the highest office in the land, she must still run for election, and over the course of this season's 10 episodes, Selina and her staff grapple with how to make her seem "presidential," while also deciding who will make the best running mate. (From the HBO synopsis)

Veep has been on what I like to call the Parks and Recreation trajectory ever since its first season. What started as an amusing way to kill half an hour has rapidly become one of my favorite television comedies, and only seems to be getting better with each season. Aside from the writing continuing to get better this season brings adds Hugh Laurie to the mix as a potential running mate for Selina Meyer, and he fits in with the cast effortlessly as a likable politician that may end up taking Meyer's place instead of helping her. The best episode of the series yet still goes to "Crate" at the end of season 3, but season 4 continues the tradition of giving us reasons to care about these characters and adding some actual emotional gravity that was missing in the first two seasons. One major highlight is a fallout between Selina Meyer and Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky). I still enjoyed the show when there was nothing very serious about it, but seasons 3 and 4 have really gained something from it.

This 1080p transfer from HBO is as solid as anything put out by them. It's always hard to find much to talk about visually with a show like this, as everything is centered around folks talking. It's all dialogue driven and the camera is doesn't do much to make itself known. That said, what is here looks really good. It is shot on the Arri Alexa digital camera so detail is consistently strong. Colors look natural and black levels are never too crushing. Nothing to complain about here.

As with previous seasons of Veep, this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is perfectly acceptable given the type of show it is. It's a show where people talk in rooms and cars so there isn't much room for elaborate sound design, but the mix does step it up when it needs to. Surround channels are appropriately used for the occasional scene that needs background noise, but 95% of the time it is people talking with the audio front and center, and it comes through crisp and clear.

For special features we start with first disc. Here you'll find Deleted Scenes (HD, 08:17) for episodes 1-5. These are all fairly short and punchy, and they are shown in sequence with background music playing much like the ending scenes of each show episode. You can play them for each episode individually or all at once. The only feature on the second disc is more Deleted Scenes (HD, 07:34) for episodes 6-10 in the same format.

 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature

HBO Comedy Double-Feature

Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season


After a breakout debut at TechCrunch Disrupt, underdog Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and his Pied Piper team now face the jealous wrath of rival mega-corp, Hooli, in the show that celebrates and skewers the tech world with equal parts veracity and hilarity. (Adapted from HBO synopsis)

If the first season of Silicon Valley was inconsistent with the occasional high point, this second season is more consistent and strong but less memorable. After all, how do you compete with an episode like the season one finale, "Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency"? You can't. But the showrunners have found a better rythym from episode to episode and have somehow made these bickering characters more endearing by the end of it. In this season there is also a bigger effort to bring more women onto the show. Amanda Crew has a larger role as Monica this time around. Following the untimely death of Christopher Evan Welch, Suzanne Cryer has taken his place in the story as a character that unfortunately just did not click with me. Alice Wetterlund joining the cast of programmers as Carla is a very welcome addition and the infighting that happens around her isn't as predictable or gender-driven as you'd think. Another big highlight for me was Chris Diamantopoulos's billionaire character Russ Hanneman, who is equal parts slimey and hilarious.



As with Veep, this 1080p transfer from HBO looks great. While Silicon Valley is also a series driven by its dialogue, the tech world of the show allows for some good variety of environments. Even the house they work out of has more color and variety than all the sets on Veep. Some of these environments can be very eye popping and the colors look great on this disc. Black levels hold up great in garages or dark clubs, never giving way to artefacting or obscuring any detail on the image. I wasn't able to find any solid information on what the show is shot on, but it looks like the Arri Alexa to me. Detail is strong and there's a soft, inoffensive digital noise you can notice if you're looking for it. Overall this is a really strong transfer that shouldn't disappoint.

Silicon Valley also has a bit more going on for it in the audio department. Again we have a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Soundtrack aside, the surround and LFE channels don't get much activity outside the occasional background noise, but what is there is effective. Like Veep it's primarily a show about people talking and arguing, and the central audio for the dialogue is as crisp and clear as you need it to be. Volume levels were good and consistent and I never had trouble making out what anybody was saying. No issues to report here.

For extras, starting on the first disc we have Deleted Scenes (HD, 07:47) for episodes 1, 2, and 5. As usual, you can play them all at once or choose an individual episode. On this disc their are also two Audio Commentaries. On the second disc we have Reality Bytes: The Art & Science Behind Silicon Valley (HD, 03:08), which is a brief but decent bit of EPK material you might catch between shows on HBO. Next up are more Deleted Scenes (HD, 03:03) for episodes 6, 8, and 9 and some additional Audio Commentaries.

Here are full cast details on the audio commentary tracks:
Episode 1: Thomas Middleditch, Amanda Crew, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr and Mike Judge
Episode 2: Thomas Middleditch, Suzanne Cryer, Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller and Mike Judge
Episode 3: Thomas Middleditch, Chris Diamantopoulos, Zach Woods and Alec Berg
Episode 8: Thomas Middleditch, Chris Diamantopoulos, Zach Woods, Amanda Crew, Jimmy O. Yang and Alec Berg
Episode 9: Matt McCoy, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener and Mike Judge
Episode 10: Thomas Middleditch, Matt McCoy, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr and Alec Berg

 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
 HBO Comedy Double-Feature
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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