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"The 100": The Complete First Season Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet Review

The 100: The Complete First Season Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The 100: Season One (2014)
Show, Blu-ray & DVD Details

Creators: Jason Rothenberg (developer); Kass Morgan (novel The 100) / Executive Producers: Jason Rothenberg, Leslie Morgenstein, Matt Miller, Gina Girolamo, Bharat Nalluri

Writers: Jason Rothenberg, Sarah Fain, Elizabeth Craft, T.J. Brady, Rasheed Newson, Bruce Miller, Tracy Bellomo, Akela Cooper, Kira Snyder, Dorothy Fortenberry, Kim Shumway, Andrei Haq

Directors: Dean White, Bharat Nalluri, P.J. Pesce, Milan Cheylov, Wayne Rose, John Showalter, Matt Barber, John Behring, Omar Madha, Mairzee Almas

Regular Cast: Eliza Taylor (Clarke Griffin), Paige Turco (Dr. Abby Griffin), Thomas McDonell (Finn Collins), Marie Avgeropoulos (Octavia Blake), Bob Morley (Bellamy Blake), Christopher Larkin (Monty Green), Devon Bostick (Jasper Jordan), Isaiah Washington (Chancellor Thelonious Jaha), Henry Ian Cusick (Councillor Marcus Kane)

Recurring Characters: Lindsey Morgan (Raven Reyes), Richard Harmon (John Murphy), Eli Goree (Wells Jaha), Ricky Whittle (Lincoln), Chris Browning (Jake Griffin), Sachin Sahel (Dr. Jackson), Kate Vernon (Councilwoman Diana Sydney), Jarrod Joseph (Miller), Terry Chen (Commander Shumway), Alessandro Juliani (Sinclair), Dichen Lachman (Anya), Izabela Vidovic (Charlotte), Genevieve Buechner (Fox), Katie Stuart (Monroe), Chelsey Reist (Harper), Joseph Gatt (Tristan), Christine Willes (Vera Kane), Aaron Miko (John Mbege), Rhys Ward (Atom), Keenan Tracey (Sterling), Josh Ssettuba (Connor), Jane Craven (Miss Lucy), Brendan Meyer (Myles)

Notable Guest Stars: Kelly Hu (Callie "CeCe" Cartwig), Lilah Fitzgerald (Reese Lemkin), Mac Brandt (Tor Lemkin), Olivia Steele-Falconer (Young Octavia Blake), Monique Ganderton (Aurora Blake), Steve Talley (Wick), Steve Bacic (Grounder)

Running Time: 545 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.78:1 Widescreen / 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Castilian, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Castilian, Latin American Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Video Extras Subtitled in English, French, Castilian, Dutch, Latin American Spanish, and Portuguese
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99; Not Closed Captioned
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s) / Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Blu-ray Release Date: September 23, 2014 / Season One Air Dates: March 19 - June 11, 2014
Also available on DVD ($39.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

Buy The 100: Season One from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet DVD Instant Video

Whether deliberately, coincidentally, or inevitably, television programming reflects moviegoers' current tastes.
That's as true on the CW as anywhere. The teen-oriented network introduced "The Vampire Diaries" a year after Twilight was released. Now, here is "The 100", a post-apocalyptic sci-fi series cut from a similar cloth as The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Like those popular film franchises, "The 100" has its origins in young adult fiction, though the eponymous novel by Kass Morgan wasn't even completed before the show was conceived. Reaching bookstores only a few months before this midseason replacement premiered, Morgan's book did not really build a huge following. If it had, the adaptation rights would have been costlier and we'd be talking about a possible movie series, not just a television show.

In "The 100" juvenile delinquents dropped from space get their first look at Earth's wildlife post-nuclear apocalypse. Their smiles soon disappear.

"The 100" is set in a near-future, 97 years after a nuclear holocaust wiped everyone off the face of the Earth. Humanity survived in the space stations of twelve nations, which were merged to form The Ark, one giant autonomous station. Because of radiation, Earth is thought to still be uninhabitable for another few generations. Nonetheless, with life support running out, the administration decides to drop 100 underage prisoners from "The Skybox" back onto the planet's surface to see what there is.

The young delinquents are considered expendable, lab rats designed to get a feel for mankind's bleak future. Our protagonist is Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), a girl just shy of her 18th birthday.
Her widowed mother, Abby (Paige Turco), the Ark's conscientious chief medical officer, arranges for Clarke to be among the first group of people to step foot on Earth in nearly a century.

Releasing a hundred teenagers with criminal records into the wild on their own doesn't sound like a plan for stability and we soon see that to be the case. Those dropped immediately begin butting heads and forming factions. It's like an untelevised Hunger Games, or for those who have been reading something older, Lord of the Flies.

Besides the infighting and different cliques, the young ex-cons find Earth a different planet from the one their ancestors knew. The pilot alone features a two-headed deer and a giant man-eating snake. There are also flowers and butterflies that assume a phosphorus glow in the dark. Then there are the Grounders, a mysterious, fearsome tribe of humans who have somehow survived the apocalypse but at first glance neither speak nor understand English.

Up on The Ark, our focus is typically on conscientious chief medical officer Dr. Abby Griffin (Paige Turco), Clarke's mother. Councillor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) has his eyes on the Chancellorship.

Our time is divided between "The Ground" and The Ark (establishing shots look like outtakes from Gravity), where the 100's vital signs, gathered by wristbands, are being monitored until they rip them off. There, holier-than-thou second-in-command Councillor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) seems pretty determined to usurp the position of the divisive Chancellor Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington), who narrowly survives an assassination attempt.

"The 100" is perfectly happy to meet one's expectations for a CW drama with its tangled, forbidden romances and diverse, attractive cast seeming of greater concern than the survival of humanity. The show doesn't shy from killing off characters you wouldn't expect to die so soon. Episodes end with twists designed to keep you coming back. This is watchable and intermittently fun without demanding much thought or reflection.

Consisting of just thirteen episodes that aired from March to June, The Complete First Season hit stores this week on DVD and the Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet set reviewed here. Each edition contains three discs and a number of bonus features.

Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) discovers one upside to nuclear holocaust: glow-in-the-dark butterflies! Young mechanic Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan) makes a stealthy trip down to the Earth to check on The 100.

Disc 1

1. Pilot (41:15) (Originally aired March 19, 2014)

2. Earth Skills (42:19) (Originally aired March 26, 2014)

3. Earth Skills (aka Earth Kills) (42:18) (Originally aired April 2, 2014)

4. Murphy's Law (40:55) (Originally aired April 9, 2014)

5. Twilight's Last Gleaming (41:01) (Originally aired April 16, 2014)

The Grounder who eventually comes to identify himself as Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) is held prisoner and tortured by some of The 100. The Grounders' leader Anya (Dichen Lachman) agrees to a tense meeting with The 100's "princess."

Disc 2

6. His Sister's Keeper (42:22) (Originally aired April 23, 2014)

7. Contents Under Pressure (42:01) (Originally aired April 30, 2014)

8. Day Trip (42:16) (Originally aired May 7, 2014)

9. Unity Day (41:21) (Originally aired May 14, 2014)

War becomes the focus of "The 100" at the end of its first season. Chancellor Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington) makes a toast in the season finale.

Disc 3

10. I Am Become Death (42:26) (Originally aired May 21, 2014)

11. The Calm (41:55) (Originally aired May 28, 2014)

12. We Are Grounders - Part 1 (42:21) (Originally aired June 4, 2014)

13. We Are Grounders - Part 2 (42:20) (Originally aired June 11, 2014)

While exploring the Earth, members of The 100 spread out as if doing a photo shoot.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Blu-ray treats "The 100" to perfect 1.78:1 picture. The vibrant, sharp video is more or less expected of a new show on the high-end format, but it's easy to appreciate nonetheless. Even easier to appreciate is the dynamite 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. The engaging mix compares to a big-budget feature film's soundtrack. It regularly enhances the drama with tasteful atmosphere and potent directional effects. Two dubs and numerous subtitles are kindly supplied.

Thomas McDonell and Marie Avgeropoulos are among the cast members participating in The 100's 2013 Comic-Con panel. Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley) tries to rally the troops in the longer of the season finale's two deleted scenes.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all HD bonus features begin on Disc One, with footage of the show's "Comic-Con 2013 Panel" (14:03). Five cast members and two producers discuss the show, its source, and its characters with Eric Goldman,
before the floor is opened to the public, whose questions are printed. Audience excitement is much less audible here than it is on other Comic-Con panels that have made it to disc.

The remaining extras adorn Disc 3.

Strangely, there are only deleted scenes for the season finale. There are only two of them, at that: a Bellamy motivational speech and a throwaway moment. They run 2 minutes and 11 seconds together.

That season finale also supplies the set's only audio commentary. It is by creator/executive producer/writer Jason Rothenberg and supervising producer/frequent director Dean White. Though they only have 42 minutes of air to fill, there are lots of gaps between proud observations, acknowledgements, and technical talk. Without much excitement, they cite Platoon as an influence and confirm an Aliens homage. Fans wouldn't miss much skipping this.

Australian leading lady Eliza Taylor speaks highly of the premise, while revealing her smoky Lindsay Lohan voice is a put-on American accent. Costume designer Katia Stano shows off some of the Grounders' distinct wardrobe offerings.

Creating the World of The 100 houses four featurettes, which offer the usual mix of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews (which allow foreign cast members to share their natural accents).

"In The Beginning" (7:13) focuses on the show's premise,

commenting on the diverse cast and the seemingly contradictory exclusivity of American English.

"The Ark" (6:37) turns our attention to the space set's design and visual effects.

"A New Earth" (6:46) addresses the show's other setting (post-apocalyptic Earth) and what goes into it.

Finally, "Grounders, Reapers and Mountain Men" (7:52) considers the different classes of characters and the aged clothes, make-up, and prosthetics they wear.

The menu plays end credits' score over a static shot of the not particularly accurate bodies being dropped to the ground. The Blu-rays kindly allow you to resume playback (to some degree), making it easy to watch the season with your progress intact. For some reason, the discs repeatedly gave my player fits loading them, but exhibited no issues once they were able to play.

In a side-slipcovered standard Blu-ray case, the three discs are accompanied by a booklet of episode synopses and writing/directing credits. A second insert supplies your code and directions for redeeming the Digital HD UltraViolet included with your purchase, in addition to referring fans to take an apparently dysfunctional survey about the show.

Protagonist Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) and her fellow juvenile delinquents discover it's a different Earth in "The 100."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The 100" is kind of like a much less expensive, less exciting, and longer version of The Hunger Games. This post-apocalyptic sci-fi series has some creative ideas but its very CW presentation won't hold too much appeal for anyone past their teenage years.

Warner has put together a nice Blu-ray + Digital HD set for this short season and while I'm not sure there's an abundance of replay value to the show, this release makes an ideal way to see it a first time, if you weren't watching it on the air.

Buy The Originals: Season One from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed September 25, 2014.



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