Monday, June 16, 2014

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Get ready for more twists and thrills when Warner Home Entertainment Group releases Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD June 3, 2014 — just in time for the season five premiere on ABC Family. Pretty Little Liars stars Troian Bellisario (Lauren, JAG), Ashley Benson (Spring Breakers, Eastwick), Tyler Blackburn (Ravenswood, Brave New World), Lucy Hale (Scream 4, Privileged), Ian Harding (NCIS: Los Angeles), Laura Leighton (Melrose Place), Shay Mitchell (Aaron Stone), Janel Parrish (Celeste and Jesse Forever, Bratz) and Sasha Pieterse (Heroes, X-Men: First Class). Pretty Little Liars, winner of the 2012 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable TV Drama, is based on the series of books by Sara Shepard. Season four finally provides some answers about the disappearance of Alison DiLaurentis. and the torment of her friends continues, picking up immediately where season three left off.

Show (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Pretty Little Liars has a very basic concept, yet it gets very complicated. Luckily, season four starts with a full episode length recap of the previous three seasons. In a nutshell, Pretty Little Liars is the story of a missing teenage girl named Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse). Her closest friends Aria (Lucy Hale), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Hanna (Ashley Benson) have been tormented by a mysterious person who goes by the name of “A”. "A" seem to be everywhere, and see everything and has threatened to expose all the girl’s deepest secrets. For three seasons it has not been clear if "A" is a man or a woman, or if it is one person or a group, and at times the girls have wondered if "A" could even be Alison herself. They try to unravel the clues behind Alison’s disappearance and get themselves into trouble, which only gives "A" more dirt to hold against them.

Pretty Little Liars Season Four contains the following episodes:
  • A Liars Guide to Rosewood
  • A is for A-L-I-V-E
  • Turn of the Shoe
  • Cat’s Cradle
  • Face Time
  • Gamma Zeta Die!
  • Under the Gun
  • Crash and Burn, Girl!
  • The Guilty Girl’s Handbook
  • Into the Deep
  • The Mirror Has Three Faces
  • Bringing Down the Hoe
  • Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
  • Grave New World
  • Who’s in the Box
  • Love ShAck, Baby
  • Close Encounters
  • Bite Your Tongue
  • Hot for Teacher
  • Shadow Play
  • Free Fall
  • She’s Come Undone
  • Cover for Me
  • Unbridled
  • A is for Answers
Season four is packed with action. There is almost nothing I can talk about because everything is a spoiler. I can say that at many points during the season it looks as though Alison is alive, and at the end the girls finally get that question answered. A gets involved in everyone’s lives in Rosewood and that questions is less easy to answer. I learned early on to stop guessing, because everyone seems guilty at some point. A mom in my mid (to late) thirties, I am certainly not the target demographic for this ABC Family show. Nonetheless, I love "Pretty Little Liars."  I’ve never seen any of the actresses in anything else and can only picture them in Rosewood. Each of the liars is the perfect actress for her character. I’d be interested to see how Sasha Pieterse plays a different character because as Alison, you just want to smack her. I’m sure every high school has a group of girls just like this. The bully (Alison), the overachiever (Spencer), the girl with low self esteem (Hanna) and the athlete (Emily). They bond with each other at different times in different ways and all keep their own secrets. As they are blackmailed and stressed you see the best and worst of these characters. I don’t think any of the girls are certain they can trust anyone but themselves.

After three seasons of wondering, I’m glad that the show has finally answered the question as to whether Alison is alive. The girls have been chasing her ghost long enough. In season five I hope they reveal who "A" is. Every season the ‘liars’ find more and more people not to trust. I’d like to see what happens when they actually know exactly who the enemy is. I applaud the addition of an episode length summary. This is a very complicated show and I definitely needed the refresher.  If you haven’t seen "Pretty Little Liars," you can catch on fairly quickly but you’ll miss a lot of clues if you’re trying to discover who “A” is while you watch. Season four includes three themed episodes which help keep things interesting – a Halloween episode, A black and white film noir episode and even a hoedown. If you enjoyed seasons one through three, you will most likely enjoy the fourth season.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Although only on DVD, the video presentation is not bad. The show is presented in a 16x9 widescreen ratio and detail is very good at night and in some dark locations. With the addition of a black and white episode you notice the lighting changes and textures that come across even without color. With “red coat” running around the viewer is often paying attention to subtle details in hair or eye color trying to determine who the mystery woman is. The many masks used this season also provide rich textures and other elements to take note of.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The English 5.1 track provides a satisfactory audio presentation to carry you through the season. Dialogue is even and consistent and you don’t need to change your volume levels to adjust for screams or whispers. Subtitles are available in French, Spanish, Chinese and Thai.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
Unfortunately the names of the special features give away many of the important plot points and the content pretty much gives away everything. Make sure you’ve finished the season before watching the features.
Disc five contains the following:
  • Behind the Scenes: Unhooding Redcoat: Alison is Alive! – An eight minute look at Alison’s return and what that means for the ‘liars’.
  • Behind the Scenes: Pretty Little Scenes: Also roughly 8 minutes, this is a look at the themed episodes from the fourth season with cast and crew interviews.
  • Behind the Scenes: Confessions of “A” Lair – This featurette looks at the elements of A’s lair and the differences between his/her insanity vs. Ezra’s organized and purposeful lair.
  • Deleted Scene – A very brief moment between Toby and Mrs. Hastings that seems barely worth mentioning, and certainly not worth being the sole deleted scene. If this is all they had, I would have skipped it all together (if I were in charge of such things).
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
This is the type of show that’s either for you or it’s not. If you've watched a previous episode and thought “I hate these girls, they all belong in prison” then nothing about this season will change your mind. Like me, if you like what they've done so far and are happy to add some teenage melodrama to your life then you should buy the set. You still have time to binge watch this and catch up with season five, currently airing on ABC Family.

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