Series two continues to blast onto DVD with this second two-disc set from Liberation, while the exploration of our lives through those of other people pushes forward with these next eight episodes from the 2002 series of The Secret Life of Us.
This series, and specifically this set, deals with subjects that appear to be taboo in other Australian dramas, specifically the hotly argued topic of abortion. The “aggressively honest” show has dealt with this issue in a real and heartfelt way, one in which we (the public as a whole) are able to relate to. This isn’t some over-acted American TV soap in its 600th decade blowing the topic out of proportion, but rather a realistic approach including a tour into the psyche of a pregnant woman mixed up in the changing “universe” around her.
Now before we head on into the next eight episodes, who wants a quick refresher from episodes 1 – 7? Thought so...
Will (Joel Edgerton) and Miranda (Abi Tucker) have decided to escape the confinds of St Kilda and see Australia; Gab (Sybilla Budd) has a crush on her 50-something boss who is married with kids; Alex (Claudia Karvan) has just been dumped by Rex (Vince Colosimo); Jason (Damian De Montemas) and his new girlfriend have a beautiful baby boy, Angus; Ritchie (Spencer McLaren) is fighting his way through the thick skin of show business; Kelly (Deborah Mailman) and Nathan (Todd MacDonald) are still happily together; Evan (Samuel Johnson) is still trying to write, especially after his book launch earlier in the series and yes, Simon (David Tredinnick) still owns the Fu bar. Thankfully this something hasn’t changed.
For those who haven't previously seen these episodes, we herein issue a spolier warning...
Episode 8: Make Up Your Mind
Will and Miranda’s farewell party has been planned, yet the actual departure doesn’t unfold as easily as one might have hoped. Alex is still upset over Rex’s departure, and Evan tries to help out but creates more trouble than good. A common theme still prevails – make up your mind!
Episode 9: Controlling the Universe
Alex is in control of the universe – absolute and utter control. Well, of the hospital anyway. The “super doctor” is there to save the day, but unfortunately can’t save one 28-year-old outsider from death. It is her control over the “universe” that keeps her sane - it keeps her mind off of Rex. But something comes ‘rushing’ (or should that be ‘gushing’ along, haha, think about that one) that will really rock her world. Gab and Dominic are still hiding their feelings for one another, but all of this is about to change. After Will’s departure, Christian comes along to help out Miranda, and is ushered in to Miranda’s spare bedroom by the excited and child-like Evan, much to Kelly and Miranda’s surprise. Oh, and they picked up Christian at the bowling green, and yes, this is still the show about these 20-somethings and not A Country Practice. Yet.
Episode 10: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Alex, Miranda and Ritchie all find themselves in this hard place somewhere in this episode. Alex is still hurting over the break up with Rex, and the surprise information from the previous episode. Miranda and Ritchie are at each other’s throats (again) when a video of the two having sex appears as an email attachment on the Internet. Here come the consequences of making up your mind.
Episode 11: The Funny Side
It’s all about the laughing club. Evan and Alex bond in this episode, as Alex’s final decision is made and carried out. Gab and Dominic still play with the idea of “love” between each other, and eventually give in to their feelings. Jason has to come to terms with life without Angus and Caitlin, which rips him apart. Christian is responsible for bringing everyone together in that global act of laughing for no reason at all, well except Ritchie’s appearance on Rove Live.
Episode 12: Who Do You Want to Be Today?
Herald Sun journalist Jemima instantly dismisses hot-stuff writer Evan Wilde as a loser, which brings Evan to like her as she hates him. Right, we have that now? The re-hashing of Gab and Alex’s past is revived with a feud about the parallels between Dom and Gab, and Jason and Alex. Kelly has her moment to prove herself to her boss, Peace (Mary Costas), with her own gig.
Episode 13: From Little Things Big Things Grow
Jemima and Evan do start to see each other, but Evan is worried that Alex gets on better with her than he does. Jason is thinking with his pecker (again) rather than with his head, and causes havoc with a younger female colleague. Kelly is beginning to wonder (as she does) about Nathan’s Judaism and the position within their relationship. Ritchie is in the shits again with the producer of the television soap, and his acting role in the boring predictability of soap operas is limited.
Episode 14: Rose Coloured Glasses
Kelly’s curiosities about her relationship with Nathan are semi-answered when she meets his parents. But unfortunately for her she is dismissed only as “a friend.” Gab and Dominic are still at it, but Gab is in a rut as she can’t stand being the “other woman,” and confronts Dominic about this. Evan also becomes a nudist (another in the long line of unpaid jobs) in one of Alex and Evan’s little games.
Episode 15: Have a Little Faith
A surprise visit in the middle of the week brings a newly separated Dominic from his wife Francesca. Kelly has decided to become Jewish, in order to be able to marry Nathan. This is the pivotal moment of the relationship between these two, which then unfolds in the upcoming episodes.
Like the previous set in the series, the video is presented in the anamorphic widescreen aspect of 1.78:1.
Colours are bright and vibrant, and hold a good level of saturation. Skin looks lifelike and healthy, giving the cast a human-like appearance (thankfully). Blacks are solid and deep, and shadow detail is adequate for the production qualities and limited dark scenes – it’s not like a haunting horror film where shadows build atmosphere.
Details levels are quite high, showing off the finer bits of these people’s lives. The clarity of the picture is high as well, and these two combine to give a great sharpness to the image. Yet at times, the definition between a body and a backdrop can be too sharp, leaving a static appearance rather than a soft cushion to the image.
There are the odd one or two film artefacts that whiz past, yet nothing really to gawk at – just 'if you blink, you’ll miss it' cases. Compression artefacts are nowhere near as obvious as in the first disc set of the series, and the slight wash of grain looks much nicer too. The opening credits do still showcase these two artefacts quite heavily.
Posterisation would once again be the largest flaw of the transfer, but again it is much better than the first discs. The odd posterisation artefacts can be seen primarily on the walls, and don’t cause too much of a distraction. Minor aliasing can be seen throughout, most notably during Episode 10 on the computer screens, and then throughout on other culprits such as Venetian blinds and cornices.
On Disc one, the layer change occurs 44 seconds into the third episode on the disc (Episode 10). This is brief and occurs just at the end of the fade out before the opening credits. Sadly it is mildly disrupting, but generally unobtrusive. Disc two's layer change must be in between titles as it could not be found. Subtitles are non existent on this disc.