In the not very distant future, the Unites States has become a third world country. In 2009, terrorists let loose a gigantic electromagnetic pulse 80 miles above the country which destroyed all the satellites. Apparently this screwed up the nation's finances, and left them in a situation that was reminiscent of the 1930s depression.
Max (Jessica Alba) is a normal looking young woman, but she hides a shocking secret – she is a genetically engineered soldier who escaped from a top secret government facility called Manticore when she was nine years old. Ten years on, she lives in a run-down Seattle and works as a cycle courier. She is hunted by a man who works for the Manticore project named Lydecker, but at the same time tries to help the innocent and destroy the evil in the city with the help from an underground journalist mysteriously known as ‘Eyes Only’.
|"Girls kick ass; says so on a T-shirt"|
Contained here on three discs is the first half of the first series. I wasn’t really expecting too much given that it was canned after only two seasons, but I was quite pleasantly surprised. If you are a fan of sci-fi or darker themed TV shows, you just might enjoy this quite a lot.
Jessica Alba plays Max with a great confidence, and she suits the role very well. The sharp insults fly throughout all the episodes with seemingly the greatest of ease, and overall she comes across as a very strong and mysterious individual.
Episode One – Pilot
As with most pilot episodes, the show uses this first instalment to set up the background situation with the help of a narrative from Max, and introduces the main characters and their predicaments. There is a small subplot in this episode which sets up the relationship between Logan (otherwise known as Eyes Only) and Max. This is a double length episode.
Episode Two – Heat
Logan manages to track down the woman who helped Max in her getaway from the Manticore facility. The two meet, but their reunion leaves them vulnerable to Lydecker.
Episode Three – Flushed
The seizures that Max has been experiencing since her childhood are getting worse. Her friends, Original Cindy and Kendra, mistake her need for medicinal pills as drug abuse, and they flush them down the toilet. Since her pills are very rare, this puts Max in a dire predicament.
Episode Four – C.R.E.A.M.
There are two very different stories taking place in this episode. The daughter of Logan's former mentor enlists his help locate her missing father. Max and Original Cindy help save their friend and work mate Sketchy from a bunch of angry Russian mobsters.
Episode Five – 411 On The DL
With the help of a PI, Max is one step closer to finding another of the X-5 soldiers who she escaped with from Manticore.
Episode Six – Prodigy
Max attends a special seminar by a genetic engineer with hopes that he may be able to cure her seizures. Problems arise, however, when Lydecker appears to be behind the lecture.
Episode Seven – Cold Comfort
Max learns that the X-5 technology that was used to create her is on sale on the black market by a rogue militia group. Another of the escaped X-5 group turns up in Seattle, and trouble is close behind her.
Episode Eight – Blah Blah Woof Woof
Lydecker finally discovers the appearance of Max. Wanted posters are put up all around the city with a big cash reward. She must decide whether to stay behind with Logan or flee over the border to Canada.
Episode Nine – Out
Max becomes very frustrated with Logan’s amazingly strong commitment to his work, and has an outburst when He wants to leave dinner and follow a lead – she wants out.
Episode Ten – Red
Max and Logan must protect a witness in order to bring down a corrupt mayor. Problem is, the witness is a man both of them hate with a passion.
As with many television programs that are converted onto DVD, the picture quality is not all that fantastic. When placed next to other TV show transfers though, it does compare quite favourably. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, up from its displayed television ratio of 1.33:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The colours are probably the strongest point of the transfer. They are vibrant when they're required to be, and nicely subdued to display the drab surrounds of the post apocalyptic surroundings. The sharpness level varies somewhat during the episodes, but mostly the image is quite soft. The shadow detail is good, and this is a blessing since there is a lot of action at night and in dim surrounds. Grain seems to rather persistently intrude on the picture.
There is very little in the way of MPEG artefacts. Aliasing pops its head up from time to time, but it is very rare. Film artefacts are a little more frequent, but the majority are hardly noticeable. The disc is single sided and dual layered. The layer changes occur between episodes. There are plenty of subtitles on offer, and the English ones are reasonably accurate.
The audio is top notch. There are two options available: Dolby Digital 2.0 surround in either English or French. This is definitely one of the better 2.0 presentations available.
Dialogue is for the most part easy to hear and understand, though at some points it seems a little soft and you may have to strain your ears to hear it. There is plenty of use from both the surrounds and the subwoofer, which is a nice change from many television transfers. Audio synch is not a problem at any stage.
The score is very fitting. The best word to describe it is probably ‘industrial.’ Lots of clanks and percussion, and it comes off quite well. After a while though there is a chance you will get sick of its repetition.