Monday, July 7, 2014

The Bridge: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
This gripping crime thriller set on the U.S.-Mexico border has emerged as one of TV’s most acclaimed new shows. When a murder victim is discovered on the bridge connecting El Paso and Juarez, detective Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) must work with her Mexican counterpart, Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), to catch a serial killer terrorizing both sides of the border. But their investigation will uncover shocking secrets and relentless danger that neither of them could possibly have imagined.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
I had wanted to watch The Bridge since I first heard about it, but had so much on the DVR, that I couldn’t add anything more to it. I’m really glad that I was offered the chance to review the show as it really got me into it and now I'm hooked.

A typical night on the bridge between the United States and Mexico is full of cars, trucks, buses and people waiting to cross the border. All of a sudden, the power goes out and the authorities have no cameras or lights on the bridge. When everything comes back up, a woman has been placed right on the border… half in the U.S. and half in Mexico. El Paso detective Sonya Cross arrives to investigate and finds that Juarez detective Marco Ruiz has already arrived. After a bit of back and forth, Sonya gains jurisdiction, but Marco allows an ambulance with a dying man in the back to cross into El Paso. Sonya files a complaint, but is still partnered with Marco on the case.

As Sonya and Marco investigate, secrets come out, danger befalls them, and it turns out everyone is connected in one way or another. The man in the ambulance passes away and his wife, Charlotte, takes over his business allowing immigrants to enter the United States through a secret tunnel on the ranch, El Paso Times reporter Daniel Frye investigates the missing women of Juarez, mystery man Steven Linder seems to kidnap women from Juarez and even Sonya’s captain seems to have a secret.

While investigating, Sonya and Marco find that the murder has nothing to do with the missing women of Juarez, that for the murderer, everything connected to the murder has special significance and is connected to everyone involved. Sonya and Marco are finally able to arrest the killer, but lose another person to his crime spree. After the death of Charlotte’s husband, she strikes a deal with the parties on the other end of the tunnel and begins allowing the use of the tunnel for illegal dealings. Her boyfriend, Ray, makes another deal and begins transporting weapons over the border. When that backfires and bugs are found in the weapons, Charlotte and Ray handle the situation and begin a new relationship with other members of the Juarez criminal underground.

Steven Linder, a strange loner who has an out-of-the-way trailer that he takes women to before they disappear and he burns their clothes, becomes Sonya and Marco’s prime suspect in the murder. But when they can’t connect him to any evidence and find out what he really does with those women and their clothes, they let him go, only to have him show back up at the police station requesting their help on one particular. Sonya agrees to help him, and after gaining permission from the captain, she and Marco set out on the case.

At the risk of spoiling the twists and turns of the show, I don’t want to give any more. As I watched, I found myself (like always) trying to figure out who the killer was, and never being able to do it until right before it was completely obvious. Diane Kruger did a good job as Detective Sonya Cross, but her character kind of annoyed me. I watched the series wondering if she was supposed to be Autistic or have Asperger’s or something like that. Turns out, that is explained in the special features.

It would have been helpful to have learned that piece of information during the show because I sat there hating her character’s quirks and thinking that she’s an annoying Temperance Brennan from TV’s Bones. Ted Levine plays her Captain and I just love him. He is one of those actors who has such a distinctive voice that I knew immediately it was him before I even really noticed him on the screen. And Demian Bichir was wonderful as Marco – the Juarez cop who is probably the only cop in the city that is not dirty.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Bridge is presented in widescreen 1.78:12 aspect ratio and similar to other shows that have been coming out lately, much of it has a yellowish tint to it. I thought this was really well done because it really provided the desert, high sun, atmosphere that I think the directors and producers were going for. Night scenes were sharp and not too dark, and the black coloring was good and didn’t overwhelm the screen. There was a lot of dust, and the main color palette was full of browns and yellows. This didn’t detract from the picture at all, in fact, it made it more realistic and believable as a desert community.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was good, as well. Dialogue was clear and intelligible, and even the scenes in Spanish were understandable. I’m the first to admit that my Spanish is not as good as it used to be, but I was still able to hear clearly enough to make out the few words I do remember. For those scenes, English subtitles are included on screen. The volume of the show was good, I didn’t have to adjust it at all. Even watching a couple of episodes on my laptop, the volume was really good. For those who require or desire them, subtitles in English SDH, Spanish and French are available.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)

Disc One
  • Audio Commentary by Diane Kruger, Demian Bichir, Elwood Reid and Meredith Stiehm – The pilot episode with audio commentary by the stars and producers.
Disc Four
  • Building The Bridge – A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show with cast and crew interviews. This was an interesting feature. I enjoyed hearing the creators and producers talk about the show and how it evolved from the Canada/U.S. border to the Mexican/U.S. border. I also enjoyed hearing the cast talk about their characters and the interactions with other characters.
  • Ciudad Juarez: The Other Side of The Bridge (with Damien Cave) – New York Times reporter Damien Cave hosts a short documentary on the real bridge between the U.S. and Mexico. This was really interesting as he spoke about the missing women, which was a part of the storyline. I can’t believe how dangerous it is in a place that is so close to the United States.
  • Deleted Scenes – Approximately 20 minutes of deleted scenes from different episodes. Many of them were interesting, but unnecessary to the overall storyline. These were all good choices to cut from the show.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Bridge: The Complete First Season is a good set of DVDs. Spaced out over four discs, the series has a lot of tense moments, twists and turns, and surprises. I’ve already set my DVR to record season two, which begins soon. I enjoyed watching the series and thought the story and characters were very well done and I especially enjoyed figuring out how they were all connected to each other. I hope there are many more seasons of the show, with a lot of new and different cases.

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