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Firefly - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
attachment.php?attachmentid=123012&d=1225183319
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

82






Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2002
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 665 Minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, German DTS 5.1, Spanish/French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Dutch
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite
Written & Directed by: Joss Whedon
Region Code: A,B

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 11, 2008







"Journey into the wild western space frontier"



Film Synopsis:

Set 500 years into the future, in the wake of a universal civil war, “Firefly” centers on the crew of Serenity, a small transport spaceship that does not have a planet to call home. Captain Malcom “Mal” Reynolds, a defeated soldier who opposed the unification of the planets by the totalitarian governed Alliance, will undertake any job – legal or not – to stay afloat and keep his crew fed.



My Take:

Firefly is a sci-fi TV series that ran during the 2002- 2003 season. It is set in the year 2517 and follows the exploits of the crew of the Firefly Class cargo ship Serenity. The series explores the aftermath of a civil war and the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. Captain Mal Reynolds (Fillion) is a tough battle hardened sort who relies heavily on his trusted first mate Zoe (Torres) who fought side by side with him during the war against the Alliance. Her husband “Wash” (Tudyk) is the ship’s pilot, Kaylee (Staite) is the engineer, and last there is hired gun/tough guy Jayne (Baldwin). The crew will pretty much take on any task as long as it ends in a payday. This includes taking on passengers, cargo for transport to other planets, and smuggling. During the series pilot Serenity 1 & 2 the crew takes on passengers Dr. Simon Tam (Maher), his sister River (Glau), and holy man Shepherd Book (Glass). For good measure they added ‘companion’ Inara Serra, an old friend, to the fold. The term companion has a different meaning and involves her working as a futuristic type of prostitute. Problems arise for the crew when it’s discovered the Simon and River, who has psychic abilities, are on the run from the Alliance. This is the foundation for the events that transpire over the course of the show with plenty of interesting subplots along the way.

Firefly has sort of a futuristic western feel that works very well. It was short lived but has a rather large fan base that was extremely displeased by its cancellation. The entire series is presented here with all 14 episodes (three of which were never aired originally), spread out over three BD-50 Blu-ray discs. Creator Joss Whedon came up with a successful formula that included a cast that truly liked coming to work every day and excellent writing that felt fresh and edgy. The 2003 release of the series on DVD helped to elevate the show’s popularity and broadened its fan base. In 2005 a film Serenity was released based upon the show and it brought back the entire cast to reprise their roles. Firefly is a really terrific sci-fi drama that features a great mix of well developed characters and creative writing. Unfortunately it was short lived but has been kept alive but its many endearing fans.








Parental Guide:

There is violence, language, and some sensuality contained in the series. I would think that a TV-14 rating would be appropriate.






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.**


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

Audio: 84



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699



Video: 80


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


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Firefly comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox 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.

I was pleased with the quality of this audio presentation as I really wasn’t expecting this level of quality. There was quite a bit of surround activity that varied in intensity. Soundstage depth was excellent, with great front channel separation and room spanning spatial directionality. Dynamic range was fairly extended which provided a nice visceral energy to active sound effects. Bass was well defined with strong presence and tangible extension. The show’s signature music had excellent clarity with discerning detail in the mid and upper treble that never sounded harsh or edgy. Dialogue was intelligible and crisp but not as prominent within the mix as I would have liked.

The high definition picture was rendered with good overall resolution that featured bold contrast, punchy colors, and lifelike complexions. Fine detail wasn’t always conspicuous from scene to scene which resulted in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there were many instances where the picture had good sharpness and definitive clarity. Whites were overcooked which washed out the presence of detail. Blacks were deep and mildly crushed so that subtle gradations were harder to detect. Detail in the shadowy and dark confines of ship was apparent but its quality was scene dependent. Grain is present and its rendering varied. The ending scene in the opening of Serenity Part 1 exhibited a strange flash of mosquito type noise that covered the entire frame. Dark scenes and backgrounds seemed to highlight grain which made it appear uneven and thereby distracting. Its was visible during lighter sequences but was better resolved and natural in appearance. Having seen the show in high definition on Universal HD this presentation was reminiscent of what I saw then.



Bonus Features:

Disc 1:


  • Audio commentary

  • Here’s how it is: The making of Firefly featurette

  • (HD) Trailers – Dollhouse, Buffy & Angel promos

Disc 2:


  • Audio commentary

  • (HD) Firefly Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Ron, and Alan

Disc 3:


  • 4 Deleted scenes

  • Featurettes:

  1. Serenity: The 10th character
  2. Alan Tudyk’s audition
  3. Joss sings the Firefly theme
  4. Joss tours the set

  • Gag reel



Final Thoughts:

Firefly was a short lived and well executed TV series that is considered a classic among its many fans. Its release on DVD gave many a chance to relive it over again after its cancellation. Fox has brought it to high definition Blu-ray Disc in an offering that is sure to trump the earlier standard definition version. I can think of no better way to enjoy it than this. Having said that I think it is safe to say that it is time for fans to upgrade.








attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
post #2 of 26
Nice review Ill give it a look. I did like the first movie but I never say the series!
post #3 of 26
This one is going on my "list" of blu-rays to buy around Christmas. There are so many releases that I want, a few will have to wait, but I definitely do intend to add this to my collection.
post #4 of 26
Great review Ralph, I'm glad to see you liked the series as it's one of my all time favorites. Boy I can't wait to see it in high def!
post #5 of 26
If I'm not mistaken, aren't the special effects shots all upscaled in this? I could've sworn there was a huge debate over this back when it aired on UHD.
post #6 of 26
All the effects shots were SD, so the best we are going to get is upscaled. Some shots look better than others...
post #7 of 26
Good review! Can't wait to watch this for the 10th time (seriously)!
post #8 of 26
So are the Buffy and Angel HD Trailers letting us know that they are coming blu-ray? Or are they just HD trailers for the shows on DVD?
post #9 of 26
This is a must have. Now all we need is Serenity, Buffy and Angel aswell

Serenirty is set for December 30th...
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by stumlad View Post

So are the Buffy and Angel HD Trailers letting us know that they are coming blu-ray? Or are they just HD trailers for the shows on DVD?

Would take YEARS to prep these for HD if it's even possible.
Like alot of shows in the 90's, (like The X-Files)
although shot on film, (and S1 and S2 of Buffy was shot on 16mm!) with the exception of S5 of Angel, all the Buffy and Angel eps. were edited and all the FX done on SD video. The masters only exist on SD video. Would require a TON of work to get these ready for HD. Finding ALL the original unedited film footage, rescanning in HD, re-editing, then re-doing all the FX in HD the way CBS digital for TREK:TOS just spent 2 years doing for only 3 seasons. Will take years to do if they ever bother.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mack View Post

Would take YEARS to prep these for HD if it's even possible.
Like alot of shows in the 90's, (like The X-Files)
although shot on film, (and S1 and S2 of Buffy was shot on 16mm!) with the exception of S5 of Angel, all the Buffy and Angel eps. were edited and all the FX done on SD video. The masters only exist on SD video. Would require a TON of work to get these ready for HD. Finding ALL the original unedited film footage, rescanning in HD, re-editing, then re-doing all the FX in HD the way CBS digital for TREK:TOS just spent 2 years doing for only 3 seasons. Will take years to do if they ever bother.

I don't think it would look that bad. The only major SFX in Buffy is dust from the vampire and End Boss from finale episodes. (show finales). Star Trek was shot almost always inside on fake background. So these needed tweaking. And i saw 2 episodes when my friend had the HDDVD and they looked Awesome for 60's tv serie. (i hope Paramount will bring S1 on Bluray in 2009)
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by attichometheater View Post

Nice review Ill give it a look. I did like the first movie but I never say the series!

You'll appreciate the movie a lot more having seen the series. There are a lot of lines in the movie that have so much more meaning (and humor) if you've seen the series. I bought the series on a blind buy after reading so much of the fanboy posts. It really is *that* good. It's a shame the show was cancelled. Especially in light of the garbage that continues make it on the airwaves.

Too bad about the rendering of the special effects. B5 suffers from the same fate.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryoohki View Post

I don't think it would look that bad. The only major SFX in Buffy is dust from the vampire and End Boss from finale episodes. (show finales). Star Trek was shot almost always inside on fake background. So these needed tweaking. And i saw 2 episodes when my friend had the HDDVD and they looked Awesome for 60's tv serie. (i hope Paramount will bring S1 on Bluray in 2009)

It's not just the FX though. The episodes themselves were edited on 480i SD video and that's what the masters are. They are not HD. Even though they were shot on film, unlike Trek which WAS edited on film, these would have to have all the footage found, re-scanned and re-edited. Even they can even FIND all the original film footage. Much of it might be lost, discarded, damaged... Imagine restoring a 2-3 hour film from the original camera negatives. Now imagine 12 seasons worth of shows....
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mack View Post

It's not just the FX though. The episodes themselves were edited on 480i SD video and that's what the masters are. They are not HD. Even though they were shot on film, unlike Trek which WAS edited on film, these would have to have all the footage found, re-scanned and re-edited. Even they can even FIND all the original film footage. Much of it might be lost, discarded, damaged... Imagine restoring a 2-3 hour film from the original camera negatives. Now imagine 12 seasons worth of shows....

I think for some of the big shows they will do it like the X-Files. They have already remastered Seinfield in HD.
post #15 of 26
Ralph,

is the case similar to that of Get Smart or Chuck/supernatural (a bit thicker)?
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GizmoDVD View Post

Ralph,

is the case similar to that of Get Smart or Chuck/supernatural (a bit thicker)?


Greetings,

Giz, yes it is. It is slightly thicker than a standard BD amaray type case.


Cheers,
post #17 of 26
Awesome, thanks Ralph!
post #18 of 26
I am a little confused here. So with the upscaling done on this blu-ray version.. is it going to look a lot better than the dvd version being upscaled?
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by maloce View Post

I am a little confused here. So with the upscaling done on this blu-ray version.. is it going to look a lot better than the dvd version being upscaled?

Only the special effects are upscaled. The rest is in HD.
post #20 of 26
kind of sounds like it wouldn't be a big bump up from the dvd's, which I already have, but it IS a favoite of mine...hmm...
post #21 of 26
I'm worried about this too but I think I am going to get it. Everything besides the special effects I would imagine will look better.
post #22 of 26
Ok I bought it and am watching the first episode now.

Here are my initial impressions.

The audio and picture quality are good. I did not get to watch the series on universal HD so I can't really compare them. The graininess the reviewer mentioned is noticeable on certain scenes. This was to be expected as when I owned Serenity on HD-DVD and watched it on a 55 inch samsung rear projection television, it was very noticable.

Its really not that bad as a lot of scenes do not seem to have any graininess. I'm watching this on a 50 inch Panasonic Plasma, I forget the model number but it was released earlier this year.

I didn't read the whole review but I do want to mention that the series comes in a regular sized blu-ray dvd box. I kind of miss how the dvds were put in cases; each having a picture of a character on it.

One of the greatest things they added is the ability to play-all, something I wanted the dvd version to have.

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir when I say this: For any fan of the Firefly series that own a blu-ray player; this is a must buy. =)
post #23 of 26
My order just came in this morning, can't wait to see this, the presentations on Universal HD was nice, but the audio and video clearly show signs of compression over cable. Even if the show looks comparable but without compressions I would be extremely happy. And "Play all" jeez, such a small simple feature almost makes it worth the double dip.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnmos View Post

I think for some of the big shows they will do it like the X-Files. They have already remastered Seinfield in HD.

Seinfeld is a MUCH more popular show than these others though. It's on in syndication several times a night on several channels. There is a BIG market for it in syndication. Buffy has kind of run it's course. There has to be a financial incentive to start the kind of massive and very costly project it would be to do Buffy and Angel. 12 seasons, editing from scratch using the 480i SD video as a guide. trying to find all the footage. I doubt the original 16mm elements from the first 2 buffy seasons have been stored and cataloged that well. Seinfeld was done by a major network and was one of the top 10 shows for years. Very different scenario. Not saying it can't happen and I would LOVE it, but not holding my breath.

post #25 of 26
Could anyone help me out here and check for DUTCH subtitles?
To my surprise it's listed in post # 1 instead of the usual French!
Thanks
post #26 of 26
Which disc has the unreleased episodes?

I saw the series in re-runs on cable (Universal HD). I don't care to watch the whole series again, but I would like to rent the disc with the 3 episodes that were never aired. Netflix counts each disc as a separate rental. Which one should I specify?
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