Enlightened: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 1 Old 12-29-2012, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

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

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: HBO - 2011
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 300 minutes
Genre: Drama/Comedy

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
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish
Starring: Laura Dern, Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, Mike White, Timm Sharp, Sarah Burns, Bayne Gibby, Charles Esten
Directed by: Various
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Written by: Laura Dern & Mike White
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 8, 2013

"Meet the new face of tranquilty "

Film Synopsis:

Enlightened centers on Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern), a 40-year-old woman who returns home to California after a month's stay at a holistic treatment facility, a result of having a mental breakdown at work triggered by her self-destructive ways. Amy returns to her old life with a new cultivated approach and perspective, which includes daily meditation and exhorting the power of self-help and inner healing. Though Amy wants to be an "agent of change" in the world, the people who know her best are skeptical of her latest intentions.

My Take:

Enlightened is an offbeat HBO series written by Mike White and starring Laura Dern as Amy, a self-destructive health and beauty executive who has a very public workplace meltdown. After three months of contemplation and meditation at a treatment center in Hawaii, Amy returns rested and ready to pick up the pieces of her old life and reshape the world she left behind. That includes delivering well-meaning, but generally unwanted advice to her mother Helen (Diane Ladd), with whom Amy is now living; her slacker ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) whose only solace comes from recreational drugs; and the crew of awkward co-workers Amy finds herself reassigned to. The series follows Amy as she navigates an unconventional path between who she is, who she wants to be...and what everyone is willing to tolerate from her.

I had never heard of this HBO series prior to receiving the press announcement regarding its first season release on Blu-ray. I am a Laura Dern fan and requested it strictly based upon her presence and the show’s premise. Enlightened turned out to be more than expected and is an interesting, quirky and honest feeling character study that surrounds a woman that is determined to show everyone in her life that it is possible to start anew and effect positive change on both the people and world around her. The trouble is no one, not even her own mother takes her reinvention seriously. What happens is that the harder Amy tries the least traction she gets. Watching her struggle against not only the corporate tide but her own failings in her personal quest is what makes the show entertaining. Amy is indeed fallible however she is surrounded by people that struggle like she does. What sets her apart is her willingness to take them to task based upon her perceptions. This results in a multitude of awkward situations and odd standoffs that seem to always result in Amy standing on the outside looking in.

Each episode is approximately 30 minutes long which seems a perfect match for the show’s thematic tone. Laura Dern nails Amy and leaves no stone unturned in terms of her portrayal of the character. She is aptly supported by a host of actors, beginning with her real life mother Diane Ladd, that lend an air of genuineness to the proceedings. Other standouts among the cast are include Luke Wilson as Amy's drug-addicted ex-husband Levi, Sarah Burns as Krista, the former assistant who has taken Amy's old job, Timm Sharp as Amy's sleazy boss Dougie, Amy Hill as Judy, the no-nonsense human resources rep who won't give Amy a break, and White as Amy's seemingly meek co-worker Tyler. I watched all ten season one episodes with my wife and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a little dark, a little quirky and most definitely human in its portrayal of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough.

The series 10 episodes (including the pilot) is evenly divided over two BD-50 dual layer Blu-ray discs with the bonus material appearing on each. It comes housed in a fold out cardboard keep case/slipcover with each of the discs secured in their own pushbutton cutout. It’s a little flimsy but functional and gets the job done.

Parental Guide:

The show contains pervasive language, thematic material and sexual content.

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

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 86

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

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Enlightened The complete first season comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.

This television series effectively uses visual aesthetics (predominantly lighting) to set the tone based upon the subject matter or mood of a particular scene. In all respects there is a pleasing blend of primary colors that are capably offset by delineated secondary hues. Fleshtones are on the warm side but are tonally balanced and lifelike in depiction. Resolution is estimable as close ups and midlevel pans have appreciable depth while exhibiting varying levels of refinement. Fine detail isn’t always copiously on display which results in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there are many instances where the video has defining sharpness and lucidity. Contrast is stable and blacks are deep but mildly crushed which in some instances makes subtle gradations harder to detect. This isn’t problematic as there are few instances of low level sequences where it is even noticeable. There is a fine layer of grain that pervades and adds noticeable texture to the presentation. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.

The multi-channel lossless audio won’t test the limits of your surround sound system but it capably delivers the elements present in the show’s soundtrack. Dialogue is tonally rich with excellent room penetration and defining clarity. Dynamic range and bass response is appropriate in support of the track’s recorded elements. The front channels handle the bulk of the audio and presents an open two dimensional soundstage with the surrounds supplying ambient detail. I think the mix mates perfectly with the source material and sounds great.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Inside the episodes – a brief breakdown of each episode is provided via insights from writer/producer/star Mike White

  • Audio commentaries by the cast/crew are provided on episodes “The Pilot”, “The Weekend”, “Consider Helen” and “Burn it down”

  • Episode listing:

    1. The Pilot
    2. Now or never
    3. Someone else’s life
    4. The Weekend
    5. Not good enough mothers
    6. Sandy
    7. Lonely ghosts
    8. Comrades unite!
    9. Consider Helen
    10. Burn it down

Final Thoughts:

Enlightened is an offbeat HBO series written by Mike White and starring Laura Dern as Amy, a self-destructive health and beauty executive who after a very public workplace meltdown seeks treatment and struggles to stay on the path of enlightenment. I found it to be well written and enacted in its fly on the wall perspective into the life of a woman determined to change but can’t help falling into the daily traps set by those around her who see her for what she once was. The trouble for Amy is that much of what she once was remains. Enlightened The complete first season comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring gratifying high definition audio/video and average supplemental material that consists of bland episode insights and a couple of decent audio commentaries on select episodes. I enjoyed the show and look forward to season two which kicks off on January 13, 2013 on HBO.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
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