Blu-ray Spotlight: Outlander Season Two

Ralph Potts Spotlights this TV drama based on Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling book series about a British WWII nurse who is mysteriously swept back in time to Scotland in 1743. Outlander has become a pop culture phenomenon and captivated audiences with its breathtaking romance, science fiction, history and adventure.

My Thoughts:

Outlander has become a pop culture phenomenon and captivated audiences with its breathtaking romance, science fiction, history and adventure. In Season two, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) arrive in France, hell‐bent on infiltrating the Jacobite rebellion led by Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) and stopping the battle of Culloden. With the help of Jamie’s cousin Jared (Robert Cavanah), they are thrown into the lavish world of French society, where intrigue and parties are abundant but political gain proves far less fruitful. Altering the course of history presents challenges that begin to weigh on the very fabric of their relationship – but, armed with the knowledge of what lies ahead, Claire and Jamie must race to prevent a doomed Highland uprising and the extinction of Scottish life as they know it.

Having missed season one of Outlander I had to do a bit of catching up. Initially the show’s dialog heavy context, character base, and mixed thematic tone left me somewhat indifferent. Once I grasped things it got better and proved interesting and compelling. In 2016, season two of Outlander garnered two Emmy® nominations (Outstanding Costume Design and Outstanding Production Design) and was renewed for a third and fourth season by Starz. The season two premiere garnered 1.46 million viewers, doubling the viewership of the series premiere in 2014, and setting a new Starz record for a second season premiere.

Outlander Season Two contains all thirteen episodes in five-disc Blu-ray™ and DVD sets, along with 24 deleted and extended scenes with introductions by Ronald D. Moore, a gag reel, and two featurettes. In “From Book to Screen: Discovering the Differences,” Ronald D. Moore, Diana Gabaldon and the writers of Outlander Season 2 discuss how they develop the scripts based off of the book series and go in-depth into the challenges in selecting plot points to bring to the screen; and meet the new characters introduced in Season Two in “Characters of Season Two.”

Blu-ray exclusive content includes an extended version of the episode “Faith,” with an additional 11 minutes of the heart-wrenching episode, an alternate scene from the episode “Dragonfly in Amber,” the Outlander podcasts for each episode with commentary from Ronald D. Moore, and three additional featurettes. “Jamie & Claire: To Hell and Back” looks into the highs and lows that Jamie and Claire have been through this season and how they survived based on their unconditional faith in one another, while “Designing History: The Costumes of Outlander” and “Recreating 18th Century Paris” showcase the intricate new costumes and set designs from Claire and Jamie’s time in France.

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Outlander Season Two comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.3 Mbps.

This is an excellent high definition video rendering that features well resolved images, defining sharpness and two-dimensional depth that appear faithful to the show’s original elements. Colors are beautifully rendered with revealing delineation, tonal warmth and vibrant textures. Fleshtones appear descriptive with discernible complexional variety that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast. Blacks are a solid shade of deep black with excellent dynamic range and discernible highlights. Contrast is well balanced which enriches both light and dark onscreen elements. I saw no signs of video related anomalies or artifacts.

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialog, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spatial dimension and directional cues to create an apropos and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music, and accentuated the show’s thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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Bonus Features:

  • Blu-ray& DVD Special Features Include:
    • All-New Deleted and Extended Scenes with Introductions by Ronald D. Moore
    • Gag Reel
    • Featurettes
    o “From Book to Screen: Discovering the Differences”
    o “Characters of Season Two”Blu-ray Exclusive Features Include:
    • “Faith” Extended Episode
    • “Dragonfly in Amber” Alternate Scene
    • Additional Featurettes
    o “Jamie and Claire: To Hell and Back”
    o “Designing History: The Costumes of Outlander”
    o “Recreating 18th Century Paris”
    • Outlander Podcasts
  • Digital HD Copy

 

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package