Show Me A Hero Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this HBO series, based on the nonfiction book of the same name that explores the notions of home, race and community by shining a light on the lives of elected officials, bureaucrats, activists and ordinary citizens in Yonkers, N.Y.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

83

Details:

Studio and Year: HBO – 2015
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 360 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Bob Balaban, Jim Belushi, Catherine Keener, Jon Bernthal, Winona Ryder, Alfred Molina, Latanya Richardson Jackson
Directed by: Paul Haggis
Written by: William F. Zorzi & David Simon based on the book by Lisa Belkin
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 2, 2016

“Fear and Money…”

My Take:

In an America generations removed from the greatest civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the young mayor of a mid-sized American city is faced with a federal court order that says he must build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town. His attempt to do so tears the city apart, paralyzes the municipal government and, ultimately, destroys the mayor and his political future.

Show Me A Hero is Emmy Award winner David Simon’s latest HBO miniseries and explores the notions of home, race and community by shining a light on the lives of elected officials, bureaucrats, activists and ordinary citizens in Yonkers, N.Y. I grew up in upstate New York, roughly 45 miles or so from Yonkers. I don’t recall hearing of this story during the time and quite frankly found it to be both enlightening and disturbing. It begins in 1987 and recounts the fact based events that took place between 1987 and 1993. Based on the book “Show Me A Hero” by Lisa Belkin this six-part miniseries focuses on Nick Wasicsko, a young Democratic councilman, who at 28, defeats the six term incumbent, to becomes mayor of Yonkers and the youngest mayor in a major American city.

From that point the crux of the storyline revolves around the Federal court ordered integration of public housing in the city of Yonkers, specifically the raising of dwellings in the affluent east side. The resistance to this from both the city council and residents, primarily consisting of white home owners, was staunch to say the least. While running for office Mayor Wasicsko advocated for resisting the court order by means of appeal. However once the appeal was denied he got behind it after being advised by the city’s legal-council that further resistance was futile. This led to a series of fiery city council gatherings, protests, and threats to the mayor as he tries to meet the demands of his constituents, balance his personal life and contend with a feisty Federal judge that will stop at nothing to ensure his ruling is upheld.

Show Me A Hero proved to be quite compelling, painting a vivid portrait of the period, the city of Yonkers on both sides and the political maneuvering that played out in the public eye as well as behind closed doors. It was disheartening to see such bigotry and loathsomeness. It felt very much like the type you would see in newsreels from civil rights movements. It’s hard to believe it was only 25 years ago or so. The narrative focuses on Nick Wasicsko but also incorporates several subplots that revolve around people living in the low income housing project in the city’s west side. At times I found the shifting back and forth to be disruptive to the story’s flow especially since the subplots weren’t offering enough context to be contributory. As it turns out they would have a role to play later however I still feel that better integration/foundation would have elevated their impact later.

As with most films based on true events all’s well isn’t necessarily how things end up. I was okay with that and felt that the series picked its moments and hit you smack in the face with its potent drama/melodrama and depiction of a city on the verge of collapse, and at the center of it all, a young man striving to meet adversity head on. The ensemble cast does a great job although I was on the fence about one or two choices, most notably Catherine Keener, who I like, but felt was miscast here. Oscar Isaac is typically convincing and solid in the role of Nick Wasicsko (which earned him a Golden Globe).

Show Me A Hero proved worth every minute of its six hour runtime. I found it to be an interesting character study of not only Nick Wasicsko but the people of the city of Yonkers during one of, it not THE most, trying period in their history.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, thematic material, drug content and brief sensuality.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

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

 

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

 

Show Me A Hero comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO 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 4 Mbps.

This video presentation delivered satisfactory overall quality that included appreciable refinement and subtle degrees of delineation that resulted in a gratifying high definition viewing experience. Colors and fleshtones appear natural with ample saturation and vivid textures. Black levels are respectable and depth of field/delineation during low light sequences is rarely a problem. I didn’t detect any noteworthy anomalies or artifacts.

The audio presentation is solid and like the video renders the elements present in the soundtrack as intended. Dialogue is clearly articulated through the center channel as the film’s music holds sway over the front soundstage. Aural perspective is one dimensional and leans toward the front channels however spatial venue replicating effects and diffuse ambience is fed to the rear channels which provide a limited but effective sense of envelopment.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Making Show Me A Hero – 6 minute featurette
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the book of the same name by Lisa Belkin Show Me A Hero is a compelling, thought provoking and interesting six-part miniseries that shines a light on the lives of elected officials, bureaucrats, activists and ordinary citizens in Yonkers, N.Y between 1987 and 1993. It comes to Blu-ray from HBO Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition audio/video and a rather disappointing supplement offering that consists of a generic making of feature. Show Me A Herois worthwhile viewing that deserves a spot at the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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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 (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
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