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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Highlander - The Series Season Four
Highlander - The Series Season Four
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // April 13, 2004
List Price: $89.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted April 29, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Run Time: 17 Hours 40 Minutes, with 22 episodes, each approximately 48 minutes in length

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you could live forever? Imagine the diverse life experiences you could indulge upon, living in both World Wars, the San Francisco Gold Rush, acting as a liaison under the British occupation of India, or even the aide of a queen. Highlander: the Series, a six season television show, was birthed from a popular Hollywood feature film, Highlander. The television series adapts the concept of immortal beings and produces a highly dramatic look into the very long-lived life of one Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul). In the world of Highlander, immortal beings are nearly-spared from death, where conventional means would render any mortal lifeless.

Joining Duncan on the cast of season four are his friends, both mortals and immortals. One of the biggest supporting characters is Joe Dawson (Jim Brynes), a bartender and member of a secret society known as the Watchers. The Watchers are dedicated to observing and recording the lives of the immortals. Part of their oath is to never interfere with the lives of immortals. Earlier in the show, Dawson repeatedly broke his oath when he befriended MacLeod. This set ups a very exciting episode at the end of season four. The other friends of MacLeod include immortals Amanda Darieux (Elizabeth Gracen), a former thief and MacLeod's lover, Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), a young and brash immortal who has become MacLeod's protege, and Methos (Peter Wingfield), an immortal who poses as a Watcher. Overall, I had some very mixed feelings about the cast. Sometimes their acting seemed a bit over the top, with way too much emotion that left some of the characters feeling like whiners.

In general, MacLeod's desire to be a good guy tends to get overbearing at times. He's a complete utilitarian, as he is more than willing to make sacrifices for the greater good of humankind. In episodes like "The Colonel", MacLeod has no trouble disposing of an immortal and former World War I veteran, who happens to be a mass-murder. However, season four doesn't just pit MacLeod against outright bad guys. In other episodes like "The Wrath of Kali", MacLeod must face one his of friends in battle. These kinds of episodes provide a much different feeling than the common good against bad. This common and highly repetitive approach to television and film gets old.

Another great diversion from MacLeod's good-guy bravado occurs in a two-part episode, "Something Wicked" and "Deliverance". In this two-part episode, MacLeod undergoes what is known as a "dark quickening". The dark quickening refers to an immortal who has drained too much evil life force and as a result, becomes evil himself/herself. This is a very exciting episode because we get the opportunity to see MacLeod in an entirely different look, evil.

Season four also features another great two-part episode, which was aired as the last episode of season four and the premiere episode of season five. In "Judgment Day" and "One Minute to Midnight", Dawson is put on trail for breaking his oath with the Watchers. MacLeod won't sit idly by while his dear friend is put to death and after a few misunderstandings MacLeod becomes hunted by the Watchers. This two-part episode featured the most entertaining and gripping story of the season, as we given suspense, deceit, revenge, and murder.

Another major portion and what I find most attractive about the series is recurring flashbacks, in which MacLeod or sometimes his immortal friends and enemies relive the past. We get a first hand witness at the early experiences. This diverse look helps develop the characters and will leave you loving or hating them. It's an interesting approach to television and done fairly well in the series.

The fourth season of Highlander takes a fairly good diversion from the common good guy against bad guy storyline and provides some very entertaining content. In just about every episode in season four, MacLeod is faced with some kind of moral dilemma, which leaves another immortal dead. However, despite the repetitive nature of the show, for the most part, each episode provides an entertaining look into MacLeod's life. Overall, whether or not you're a huge fan of the Highlander series, season four should leave you entertained and wanting a bit more.

The DVD

Video:
The fourth season of Highlander is presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality seems to vary in each episode. Some portions of are filmed under different lighting, with different equipment, which results in a very some non-streamline quality. Overall, it does not feel much better than what you would witness from broadcast or cable television. There is a very distinct grain in the picture and sometimes it is very noticeable. In regards to viewing pleasure, it shouldn't hinder your experience, but it definitely won't make it better. Similar to Don Houston's review of Highlander – The Series Season Three, fitting 22 episodes on 8 discs seemed to be slightly overkill. The picture quality would most likely not have been hurt by reducing the number of discs to 6, fitting at most four episodes on each disc. With that respect, having three episodes across 8 discs, with no benefit for greater picture clarity, was more or less an annoyance.

Sound:
While there wasn't a great improvement with video quality, the sound quality seems to have received a little more attention. In addition to a standard 2.0 Dolby digital stereo audio track, Anchor Bay included a 5.1 Dolby digital stereo audio track. The 2.0 track sounds fairly decent, but a little too flat. The 5.1 track sounds much better. There is a significant improvement. The 5.1 track does not sound flat like the 2.0 track. Still both audio tracks are not superb, as they both have a slight overheard. It's nearly inaudible, but the noise distortion can be recognized at very high volumes. Overall, the audio sounds much better than the picture looks.

Extras:
This exciting box set is supplemented with a lot of extras. There's so many that the box barely fits in its packaging! Actually, it fits fine, I lied. The main extras that are presented with this box set are audio commentaries, video commentaries, bonus footage (deleted & alternative scenes), and interviews with cast and crew. These extras span across box set's 8 DVD discs and are associated with a particular episode. Some episodes have all four extras and others only have one. Other minor extras included are a photo gallery, Chronicles, and a Bonus CD-ROM disc. The Chronicles features a breakdown of significant mortals, immortals, places, weapons, and events of each episode. On the bonus CD-ROM we find scripts for each episode, production notes, cast & crew biographies, and a trivia game. Overall, the extras that included with the fourth season release of Highlander: The Series is a wonderful supplement. Compared to some other television series, where the studios have skimped us from our extras, Anchor Bay did a very good job including a fairly diverse and entertaining amount of extras.

Final Thoughts:
I wouldn't claim to be a diehard fan of Highlander, but after sitting through the fourth season, I really want to see more. Each episode is a bit repetitive, but they do hold their entertainment value. The majority of the supporting cast can get a little annoying and sometimes feel taxing, but with a major focus upon Duncan MacLeod, it isn't that bad. So fans of the series will undoubtedly want to check this out and newcomers to the show, season four is a fine introduction.

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