The Handmaid’s Tale Season Three Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of the third season of the Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Peabody Award-winning series, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is driven by titular handmaid June’s (Elisabeth Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

90

Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2019
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 659 minutes
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.00:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Ann Dowd, Joseph Fiennes, Max Minghella, Yvonne Strahovsky, Madeline Brewer, Alexis Bledel, O-T Fagbenle, Samira Wiley, Amanda Brugel, Bradley Whitford, Cherry Jones, Elizabeth Reaser, Christopher Meloni
Directed by: Various
Music by: Adam Taylor
Written by: Bruce Miller, Margaret Atwood, Nina Fiore, John Hererra
Region Code: A

Release Date: November 19, 2019

“Blessed be the Fight”

Synopsis:

“The third season of the Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Peabody Award-winning series, The Handmaid’s Tale, is driven by titular handmaid June’s (Elisabeth Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead, in which she finds herself once again after opting not to flee to Canada with her baby at the end of the second season.” – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, best-selling novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the castes of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world.

In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her.

The Handmaid’s Tale paints a bleak dystopian world where the birth of children has declined due to the lack of fertility in childrearing women and led to a society where women are stripped of all titles, independence, financial gain, and civil rights. They are divided into domestics, laborers, and worst of all, concubines, in servitude of the male populace.

The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale, is driven by titular handmaid June’s (Elisabeth Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead, in which she finds herself once again after opting not to flee to Canada with her baby at the end of the second season. Along with the women of Gilead, June is ready to strike back at the twisted fundamentalist regime that rules Gilead. She is done playing by their rules. She has made alliances with her new Commander and the Martha network in order to save the children living in Gilead. They’re armed with a plan and will band together to pull off a bold and daring attack, despite overwhelming odds.

This season there are startling reunions, betrayals and a journey to the terrifying heart of Gilead that will force all of the characters to take a stand, guided by one defiant prayer: “Blessed be the fight.” Serena Joy is done trying to be the dutiful wife and goes against her husband (and Gilead) in order to get what she truly wants (her daughter Nicole).

The Handmaid’s Tale is a gripping television drama whose story is primarily seen through the eyes of a young woman and, her struggles to survive in a chaotic world governed under the guise of religious order. The show’s depiction of the atrocities undergone by the Handmaids is disturbingly evocative, as its narrative shapes and chronicles the primary context of a world gone mad. Season three takes the narrative in a decidedly different direction as we saw the enslaved band together to strike back at the heart of their oppressors. There are a host of involving subplots, one that provides background on the character of Aunt Lydia (played by the wonderful Ann Dowd), another the presents insights into the darkest depths of the leadership of the Commanders and evolution of the relationship between Fed and Serena Joy Waterford.

As with seasons one and two, my wife and I were completely drawn into the show’s elements, finding its drama, humanity, and at times, difficult subject material to be thoroughly compelling. Once again, the show built to a rewarding and engaging series of final episodes.

Elizabeth Moss is simply incredible in this role. Additionally, the cast, as an ensemble, underscores this show’s subject matter, and terrific execution, by its creative team.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season Three’s 13 episodes are spread over four BD-50 Blu-ray discs, with the bonus content located on disc 4. The set comes housed in a standard amaray style case, with each disc having its own push button/storage space.

Here is Season Three’s episode listing:

  1. Night
  2. Mary and Martha
  3. Useful
  4. God Bless the Child
  5. Unknown Caller
  6. Household
  7. Under His Eye
  8. Unfit
  9. Heroic
  10. Bear Witness
  11. Liars
  12. Sacrifice
  13. Mayday

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The show contains violence, language, strong sexual content, nudity and strong thematic material.

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

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

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

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

The Handmaid’s Tale Season Three comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

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 pallid 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 respectable, but, on occasion, 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. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.

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.

Bonus Features:

  • Power Play: Gilead’s Women Fight Back – Take a look at how these women have come into their power and what this means for the future of Gilead.

Final Thoughts:

Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, best-selling novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is a gripping and evocative TV drama that resonates, thanks to terrific writing/direction and, superb performances from its ensemble cast. Its third season comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video, and a lackluster supplemental package. The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t an uplifting TV drama but, it’s among the more compelling series on television. Can’t wait for the start of season four. If you’re a fan and want to own it, this Blu-ray offering looks and sounds great.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems