"Red Vs. Blue" is an internet series that is filmed using the "Halo" video games (and as the sequels of the original game have improved graphically, so has "Red Vs. Blue".) While the series has improved technically over the seasons (thanks to technical improvements in the sequels and the use of additional effects), the writing was outstanding from the outset and has improved further in the years since, as the series has added richer plots and surprisingly effective moments of drama.
Of course, there's also the occasional action sequence, although the humor of much of the series (especially the original run of 100 episodes) is that two separate groups supposed to be fighting each other rarely fight and when they do, they do so quite unsuccessfully. The voice acting is also top-notch, giving the characters personalities strong enough to more than overcome the fact that the characters lack expressions.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it consists of two main teams - Red and Blue. Red features "Patton"-ish Sarge, lazy Grif and Sarge's insecure "yes man", Simmons. The Blue team consists of irritable Church, lovably stupid Caboose and womanizer Tucker. Most of the action throughout the original series took place in the "Halo" multiplayer maps "Blood Gulch" (a long, boxed in canyon) and "Coagulation" (update of "Gulch"), although other maps throughout the series have also been used to create the world of the show.
The 6th season starts where "Recovery One" left off. The series opens with agents combing the landscape of Valhalla looking for something. They find a survivor who talks about an "infection" after a ship crash that made most of those nearby go insane. The survivor talks of an attack by an unknown, which leads to the return of Agent Washington, who is told to seek out a group of soldiers who can help him find the being, known as the Meta.
Thus begins a round-up of the now-familiar characters, who have become scattered and who - in some cases - are not particularly well-liked by those who they've surrounded themselves with (Caboose's new fellow soldiers can't give him away fast enough, while Simmons and Tucker are in serious trouble with their new friends when Sarge finds them.) As the season progresses, the characters find themselves deeper in danger as they try to catch the mysterious Meta, who has a number of powers to his advantage, like ... the strength to toss cars at the Reds.
The season shows an astonishing progression for the series, which in the initial run was a delightfully sharp comedy - a sci-fi "Office Space" with sharply drawn personalities, screamingly funny moments, clever plots and exceptional comedic timing for a series about a bunch of video game characters without any visible facial expressions. What elevates "Red Vs. Blue" to another level is the density of the humor and the success rate - the series packs clever riffs tighter than commuters on a rush hour subway, and rarely misses when it swings for fences. I've laughed harder at moments of "Red Vs. Blue" over the years than any Hollywood comedy in ages.
However, "Reconstruction"'s ability to blend the show's signature brand of humor with action riffs, dramatic moments and plot actually enhances the humor - the series punctuates the serious moments with classic riffs from Caboose and others.Overall, this is another top-notch season from Rooster Teeth.
The 7th season of the series, "Recreation" starts where the prior season left off, with Caboose hilariously trying to work on his "secret project", which continually ends in some form of destruction. The Reds, however, are delighted to find that the Blues only have what appears to be one very idiotic team member left. Still, rather than simply going over to defeat their enemy, Sarge proclaims that they must face protocol, which gives plenty of time to show Caboose the "error of his blue ways." While the Reds spend their time debating on whether or not to attack (and if there was no one left to attack, the war would be over - which delights Grif and upsets Sarge.)
The first 3-4 episodes of the season are classic RVB, with some of the best bits between Sarge and Spanish-speaking robot Lopez, whose insults to the oblivious Sarge are some of the show's best one-liners. The early episodes also offer some of the show's priceless situation comedy, such as an early moment when Caboose comes over to the Red side to ask if he gets a vote in his destruction or not or another moment where Simmons discusses the flaw in Sarge's new jeep: that the EMP cannon tends to stall the car every time it fires. Realizing that they deleted the Blues from the army computer in a previous season, the Reds set about restoring them to the system - because if they defeated the Blues and they weren't in the system, it wouldn't count.
In the midst of all the arguing over whether or not to destroy Caboose (who becomes angry after not getting cookies he tries to negotiate for in return for a Red team member), Donut appears with a message from Tucker about something mysterious "under the sand." When the Reds get word of the situation, their differences are put aside and they put a call in to Agent Washington, who is upset to find that he's been locked up while the Reds and Blues were awarded new bases. While one group heads off to find Tucker and the mystery in the desert (in a giant base, after it's explained that the walls are tougher than rock, when one asks what's tougher than rock, Caboose flatly states, "paper"), the other group back at the base is horrified to find that the Meta has returned. Overall, the seventh season continues the show's strong run, with a terrific blend of story and humor.
The 8th season of the series, "Revelation", once again picks up where the series left off. Washington has returned, proving that his alliances have turned, as he joins the Meta in - as the season opens - terrorizing Simmons and Doc, who are rescued by Sarge. While the Caboose, the Reds and Church (in a new form) get away, it's not long before the regrouped Washington and Meta (who still have Doc) try to hunt them down. This season isn't quite as well-balanced between story and comedy as the prior two seasons, but it remains entertaining and offers a moving conclusion.
The 8th season of the series also sees the show start to become more animated, and while these digitally animated sequences are reasonably well-done technically (and I'll admit a battle between former reluctant ally Tex and the Reds is expertly choreographed), having the characters become more animated gets too far away from the original charm of the series, where the flexibility of the characters were limited by the motions of the game and showed less expression. The simplicity of the series has, over the years, managed to enhance the humor. Small-to-mild background effects that enhance the world of the series work well, but I'm just not too much of a fan of the fully animated sequences.
Overall, "Red Vs. Blue" still offers terrific fun after 8 seasons (this set includes season 6-8) and hopefully the series will continue onward.
VIDEO: "Red Vs. Blue" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presented using the "Halo 3" video game, the series looks quite nice, with sharp details and a clean, smooth look. Colors appear bright and well-saturated, while no edge enhancement or other issues are seen.
SOUND: Clear, well-recorded stereo.
EXTRAS: Episodes offer audio commentary from the cast and crew of the series. The track is hysterical, with the group goofing on production issues, chatting about behind-the-scenes stories, working with the visuals and voice work.
Some terrific outtakes are offered with the 6th season, as well as a discussion of visual effects work, "Inside the RVB Actor's Studio", the trailer, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending and a very funny rave gag that not only should have made the series, but is an example of the kind of delightful random humor the series excels at), the "Recovery One" miniseries, the PSAs from the time period (including the very amusing "First!"), an "RVB" animated short movie and a trailer of the best of the original "RVB" run. The 7th season also includes PSAs, deleted scenes (including a couple of gems), outtakes and the "Recreation" mini-series. The 8th season includes enjoyable featurettes on the visual effects and actresses, as well as deleted scenes, outtakes and PSAs (including the recent "Deja View" PSA for "Halo Reach".) The "Recovery One" series is also in the set, as well.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Red Vs. Blue" still offers terrific fun after 8 seasons and hopefully the series will continue onward. While those new to the series should start with season one, fans will enjoy this set that pulls together three seasons and two mini-series offerings. The DVD presentation offers very nice audio/video quality, as well as a very, very nice set of supplemental features. Highly recommended.