Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Girls: Season Two Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Girls is an HBO series, created by and starring Lena Dunham. Dunham is also one of the shows executive producers. The show strikes me as a more realistic version of Sex and the City as the show is centered around a group of friends but they aren't all beautiful. The show has however become one of the most critically acclaimed and buzzed about shows on television. In this second season, Hannah is seeing a new guy, but still feels responsible for Adam, her bed-ridden ex, as he recovers from the fateful accident that ended Season one. Disappointed at work, the recently single Marnie needs the support of her best friend and former roommate, yet the distance between them seems greater than ever. Jessa returns from her honeymoon, ready to plant new ideas in Hannah's head and newly experienced Shoshanna struggles to navigate the challenges of a shaky relationship with Ray.
Show (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Girls stars Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath. Hannah is a twenty something woman in New York City surrounded by a close circle of friends. In season one her parents cut her off financially, she has an on again off again relationship with a man named Adam (Adam Driver) and has a falling out with her best friend Marnie (Allison Williams). Season Two begins weeks after season one and Hannah is taking care of Adam and his broken leg. Marnie loses her job and Hannah is living with her ex-boyfriend Elijah who is openly gay. Hannah’s worldly and unique friend Jessa has returned from her honeymoon after an almost spur of the moment marriage.

For much of season two revolves around Hannah’s writer’s block. She has an e-book deal but lacks inspiration. When she doesn’t find it in life, or in her friends she looks to her ex-junkie neighbor. Hannah hopes to score some cocaine and write about her first experience with the drug. When Hannah’s parents visit, her anxiety grows and she starts to exhibit OCD symptoms where she must repeat actions eight times. Her condition worsens and she injures herself with a Q-tip, resulting in a trip to the hospital.

In season one Hannah tried desperately to get the attention of Adam and in season two the tables are turned as he pursues Hannah, despite having a girlfriend. Even though I’m not a fan of the show I can see how others would be. I can’t say its boring, or poorly written – it just doesn’t interest me. Season two is ten episodes and it’s easy to watch the entire season in a weekend. To me it feels like the show tries too hard to be controversial.

I personally preferred season one when all of the girls' friendships were still intact. It appealed to me more to see the quirky characters when they still had each other. I found the character Marnie to be the most interesting, as she goes through many changes. She has her work life turned upside down and has to watch her ex become a big success. Marnie’s highs and lows seem to be the most realistic part of the show. I don’t know anyone like Hannah or Jessa but I’ve met a few Marnie’s in my life. I would cautiously recommend it to someone who liked season one and would recommend new viewers start there. You would not want to begin at season two and try to unravel the complexities of these characters.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Whether or not you are a fan of the show, you can usually count on HBO to provide a nice set. Girls Season Two is presented in 1080p, and is equivalent to Season One. During Jessa and Hannah’s trip to upstate New York you get a larger range of colors and the show remains detailed in nature as it was in the big city. I did not watch the show in its original television release, but was satisfied with the content of the Blu-rays.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Girls Season Two offers a solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The weight of the audio struck me most when there were parties with crowds. Hannah’s q-tip injury offers some unique effects as well. Dialogue in all settings is clear and intelligible and the show is well scored.
Extras (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Girls Season Two offers a lengthy and impressive list of special features. The commentaries offer an interesting look at the writing process and the special features offer more than the typical categories. The Blu-rays contain the following:
  • Commentaries -
    • Episode 1, with Allison Williams and Andrew Rannells.
    • Episode 3, with Director Jesse Peretz.
    • Episode 4, with Zosia Mamet, Alex Karpovsky and Director Jesse Peretz.
    • Episode 5, with Director Richard Shepard.
    • Episode 7, with Director Richard Shepard.
    • Episode 9, with Creator Lena Dunham and Executive Producer Jenni Konner.
    • Episode 10, with Creator Lena Dunham and Executive Producer Judd Apatow.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes - Twenty nine deleted or extended scenes are available, at least two from every episode.
  • Inside the Episodes: Brief interviews with Creator Lena Dunham discussing each episode. Available individually or with a play all function.
  • Episode 5 Table Read – A roughly 20 minute table read from episode 5 including deleted/cut scenes.
  • Charlie Rose Interview with Lena Dunham – Found on disc one, lasting almost 29 minutes.
  • Emily Nussbaum Interviews Lena Dunham – Also on disc one, in front of a live audience at The New Yorker Festival 2012 with better than average audience questions at the end.
  • Guys on Girls - Under twenty minutes, this discussion allows the male stars the chance to talk about their characters. Includes Christopher Abbott (Charlie), Adam Driver (Adam), Alex Karpovsky (Alex) and Andrew Rannells (Elijah), with Lena Dunham hosting.
  • The Making of Girls – A featurette that looks at the scripts and story for season two with portions of a table read and cast/crew interviews.
  • Gag Reel – Found on disc two – a two part gag reel with the mock Public Service Announcements from Adam Driver.
  • Music - Multiple songs from the series.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The impressive list of special features combined with HBO’s solid audio and video presentation give Girls Season Two a higher score than I think the show itself deserves. It’s unique but I feel it tries too hard to be controversial. Girls is just not a show that clicked for me but I can see how and why it appeals to others. If you liked Season One, you will probably find Season Two equally interesting and I’m interested to see where the characters will go in season three. I wonder what they would be like if everything was going well for them, although I don’t know if we will ever see any of them truly happy.

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