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Rookie Blue - The Complete 1st Season (US) Review




Buy from Amazon.com (US)
Buy from Amazon.ca (CAN)
Buy from DVDEmpire.com (US)

Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   8/10
Extras:   3/10

Four discs, not Three
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
7/06/2011

    Serve. Protect. Don't Screw Up.

    At the police academy they trained together. Now they're on the job together. Rookie cop Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym, "Heroes") and her fellow new recruits are ready to brave anything, but in the world of big city policing, even the smallest mistake can have life-or-death consequences.
Last year I attended the Banff TV Festival, and viewed an eOne session where they presented their upcoming shows. I had heard a little bit about Rookie Blue, but I was blown away by the presentation - it was a show I went from knowing a little about to a show I had to see. I love cop shows, and this show had a different approach to it, focusing on the rookies instead of the seasoned vets.

This review is based on the US set, which differs a little bit from the Canadian set. You'll find all 13 episodes on 4 BDs:

Disc 1 (2:48:50)
Fresh Paint (41:51)
Mercury Retrograde (42:45)
Fite Nite (41:59)
Signals Crossed (42:15)

Disc 2 (2:48:50)
Broad Daylight (41:33)
Bullet Proof (42:10)
Hot and Bothered (43:03)
Honor Role (42:04)

Disc 3 (2:49:43)
Girlfriend of the Year (42:53)
Big Nickel (41:41)
To Serve or Protect (42:10)
In Blue (42:59)

Disc 4 (43:04)
Takedown (43:04)

Video

Rookie Blue looks awesome on Blu-ray; better than I remember it looking when it was broadcast. The picture, which is 1080p (1.78:1), looks great, without compression issues, or noise. My one complaint is that the black-level is off in some scenes (usually night shots), but this was also a problem when it was broadcast, so it's not inherent to the BD release. There isn't a "play all" option on these discs, which is too bad because you'll probably watch more than one episode in a sitting.

Audio

The US release includes an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, along with a Dolby Digital 5. track.I found the DTS track to be quite good, with some decent activity in the rear speakers, but not quite as engaging as the audio on a Sci-Fi show, for example. There are English subtitles on the set.

Extras - How we rate extras

Making-Of Featurettes (10:01)
These "making-of" featurettes are fun to watch, except for two things - they're all in SD, and they're not encoded properly; you'll see black bars on the top and bottom, with the picture stretched left and right (unless you have a TV that allows you to force 4:3 mode, then it won't be stretched to the sides).
A New Breed of Blue (3:09)
Meet the Rookies of 15 Division (3:59)
Rookie Training (2:53)

The Stryker Report: Behind the Scenes on Rookie Blue (23:28)
A cool, 8-part behind-the-scenes look at the series. While this is in HD, the source material has an interlacing problem.

Season 1 Trailer (1:57)
A trailer for season 1, in SD, and squished.

Season 2 On-Set Trailer (3:05)
Finally, something that's in SD and NOT squished. This isn't a trailer, it's the cast members talking about the new season.

Summary

What a show! I've often been down in Canadian shows, mostly due to watching a ton of the Canadian garbage that hit the airwaves in the 80s and 90s, but I must say the production quality certainly has turned around over the last 5-10 years. I'm sure many US viewers of Rookie Blue don't realize it's a Canadian series; the city is generic, and there are very, very few Canadian references (one shot of some Canadian $20s, and one mention of a smallish Canadian city in the 13 episodes). I was extremely pleased that the ratings for the show were good on ABC (and on Global in Canada), it meant a second season would come.

I haven't encountered a problem with SD material on a Blu-ray being stretched before, so I wondered whether it was a problem with the way my TV was set up. I had been talking to eOne, and was told that the material displayed properly on their end, and that it may be my equipment. I went through all the settings of my Sony TV, but I was unable to get it to display properly (the material is matted widescreen, which means it should display with black bars on the top, bottom, and sides on a 16:9 TV). My TV doesn't have a setting to force 4:3, which is how eOne was getting it to display properly. As luck would have it, I discovered some matted widescreen material in SD on the Louie season 1 disc, and it played properly on my TV. As much as I hate to say it, I'm almost certain that the "Making-of Featurettes" and "Season 1 Trailer" were encoded incorrectly on this set, but I'd love to hear from readers that have the set, and whether it played properly for you.

Bonus material encoding problems aside, I'm happy to have this set in my collection. The audio and video are great, and while the bonus material is lacking a bit, I think that's likely due to the show being far along in production before the home video people were brought in. I've been told to expect great things on the season 2 set.


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