I heard a lot of good things about Orange is the New Black from friends that have Netflix, so I was eager to check it out once the DVDs/BDs were released. This is one of the shows that Netflix bought, so it can only be watched with the streaming service (or now on home video). It's interesting to have a streaming internet service act as a broadcaster, making deals and buying new products.
Orange is the New Black is based (loosely, I'm told) on the best-selling book by Piper Kerman. The show follows "Piper Chapman" as she enters prison to serve a 15 month sentence after entering a plea deal for an incident that happened 10 years previous. While in prison she meets many interesting characters as she learns to navigate the system and serve her time.
This 3-disc set includes all 13 episodes from the first season of the show:
Disc 1 (4:28:07)
I Wasn't Ready (51:08)
Tit Punch (51:54)
Lesbian Request Denied (56:25)
Imaginary Enemies (54:17)
The Chickening (54:23)
Disc 3 (3:52:31)
Bora Bora Bora (53:31)
Tall Men with Feelings (58:59)
Fool Me Once (59:54)
Can't Fix Crazy (1:00:07)
I really can't find any faults with the video quality of the show. The 1080p transfer in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio looks great; no issues with banding, edge enhancement, digital noise, or black levels, can be found here. In fact, I'd guess that the picture looks better on the Blu-ray than it would streaming through Netflix, since there's bound to be some hiccups somewhere along the line while watching an episode. There's also a chapter placed after the opening credits of each episode, and the discs have a handy "resume" feature, allowing you to pick up where you left off.
The English DTS-HD 5.1 track was good on this release, but it didn't blow me away. While there aren't any audio glitches, I never felt as though I was part of the show, only that I was watching it. The rear speakers, which are used for ambient sounds in the prison, felt a bit too quiet for me; I only heard them when I was paying attention by moving my head closer to the speakers. There's also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Some good commentary tracks for the first and last episodes of the season. Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann and Mark Burley, all producers, provide some good behind-the-scenes material on the show. The commentaries are on "I Wasn't Ready" and "Can't Fix Crazy."
New Kid on the Cell Block (6:55)
This featurette caught me off-guard because of the title. This is actually about Piper Kerman, and the move from the book to the show.
It's Tribal (7:36)
A look at the different groups, or tribes, in the jail.
Mother Hen: Red Runs the Coop (6:35)
A fun featurette on "Red," played by Kate Mulgrew. Features interviews with Piper Kerman, the actors, and producers.
Prison Rules (7:42)
There are rules for the prison, and there are prisoner rules. This featurette takes a look at the various rules through interviews with the cast, and clips from the show.
Gag Reel (6:34)
A gag reel for the show.
Trailers for various Lionsgate shows can be found on disc 1.
I enjoyed the first season of Orange is the New Black, but I don't think it's as "ground-breaking" as everyone claims. Sure, there's some violence, and some sex, but I saw all that years ago while watching Oz on HBO. It's definitely an interesting series, and I'll come back for season 2, I just didn't feel like it was something that was completely different on TV. I'm also interested in checking out the book, and I was a bit disappointed they hadn't included some kind of "trial" copy with the Blu-ray, either the first chapter or two in a physical form, or an ePub that could be loaded onto an eReader.
There are a couple of connections between members of the cast which I found neat; Jason Biggs is best-known for playing "Jim Levenstein" in the American Pie movies, and one of his co-stars in those movies was Natasha Lyonne, who plays "Nicky Nichols" in Orange. Also, Lauren Lapkus (who plays the guard "Fischer") was in Are You There, Chelsea? with Laura Prepon, "Alex Vause" in Orange.
I thought this set was a nice one for fans of the show that may want it in physical form (and with the A/V quality that Blu-ray provides). The commentary tracks are good, the featurettes are interesting, and the gag reel is fun. There's even an Ultraviolet code to allow for streaming through the service. The show isn't going to get me to subscribe to Netflix (I have so many unwatched movies and TV shows), but it's a lot of fun to watch.