“The River” DVD Review
Release Date: May 22nd
"The River" didn't seem to make a lasting impression on most TV viewers, but it hooked me in from the start and I continued to board the ship week after week to see what crazy things the crew would run into. "The River" tries to take advantage of the 1st person, POV-type style of filmmaking that Oren Peli used on his widely popular "Paranormal Activities" movies, but it didn't seem to translate to television. Personally I had no issues with it as I'm a huge fan of the POV-style of movie making, but the ratings declined week after week until ultimately the show met it's demise. The series consists of only 8 episodes, but each one manages to revolve around it's own unique mystery that the crew encounters. Each of these mysteries is contained within the overall goal of finding Dr. Emmet Cole who went missing in the Amazon. When Dr. Cole's beacon mysteriously turns back on, days after his funeral, his wife Tess rallies their son Lincoln and they head down into the Amazon in search of him.
As you can tell by now I am a fan of "The River" and am sad that I can now add it to the running list of recent shows I enjoyed that got canceled before their time (Jericho, Flash Forward, the 2nd half of The Event). In terms of the DVD, if you're a fan of the show and want to relive the experience, then there's no reason not to pick this up. In terms of the video quality, it looks like what you would expect from a camera crew going into the Amazon to film a documentary. In order to get more stationary shots that an actual camera man wouldn't get, the group setup cameras around the boat as well as random cameras watching them in the jungle on occasion. Because of the different cameras and the different way that those cameras capture the images, the video can at times look low-res or distorted... this is on purpose, and all of that detail comes through nicely in the DVD. I would have loved to see a blu-ray release of the show, but it appears that DVD is the only option for the time being. I'm not sure if ABC has any plans to release a blu-ray set in the future, but I do like the fact that the series just ended and this DVD is already being made available.
In terms of the audio on the discs, the Dolby 5.1 surround sound sounds great. Every chirp and rustle in the jungle is clearly audible throughout the episodes. It almost brought me back to the days of "LOST" in terms of feeling like you're right there in the jungle.
As for the special features on the disc, there are two commentary tracks covering the pilot episode and then the final episode. The commentary is similar to what you find in the featurette titled "Magic Out There" where the cast and crew talk about their experience with the show, how it came to be, what sort of style they were going for, etc. The featurette is about 18 minutes long and was a nice little supplement to the disc. I really wish it were a bit longer and went into some more of the thought process behind some of the episodes, but either way I enjoyed it. There is also 16 minutes worth of deleted scenes from throughout the series which you can check out.