Red vs. Blue Season 9
New Video // Unrated // $19.95 // November 15, 2011
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 20, 2011
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
"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 9th season of the series picks up where season 8 left off, with Church having gone into the memory unit in an attempt to try and find Tex, who was trapped in it at the end of season 8. However, once he finds himself in a memory of the canyon with all of his old pals, he realizes that some things are changed ever-so-slightly, and fails in his attempt to convince the Reds that they're not exactly acting like themselves.

Additionally, due to what is believed to be the instability of the memory unit, there's near-constant earthquakes that threaten to bring the memory world down around them all. This, of course, requires an eventual plan by Sarge that makes for one of the season's funniest bits.

Half of the season follows the events at the canyon where Church tries to figure out how to find Tex before the world crumbles, while the other half of the series is a flashback to years earlier, which provides a earlier look at the top secret Project Freelancer, and Tex's involvement. The portion of the season in the canyon is done using the "Halo Reach" engine, while the Freelancer sequences are all done using CGI animation.

I'm still a little skeptical of the show's move towards CGI animation, but it works in an attempt to expand the world of the series out further - a good portion of the Freelancer sequences/story wouldn't likely be possible within the game maps.

Having the core characters remain in-game in this season and having the Freelancer scenes CGI is a more pleasing way of keeping the original feel, charm and humor (as the nature of the in-game animation added to the humor, whereas the show's attempts at humor aren't quite as funny in full CGI) of the series that fans know while bringing in the sleeker CGI element for action scenes and story elements like the Freelancer flashbacks. Having these elements distinctly separate rather than the random mix of CGI and in-game worked well and added to the season.

Still, while it's a little hard to see the series move away from wholly being the "Office Space ... in Space" comedy that was so extraordinarily funny over the early seasons, it's impressive in many regards that a series that - while brilliant - was a basic concept could be expanded to become something of a sci-fi epic. Some elements of the larger story can feel a little convoluted at times, but not to a distracting degree.

Overall, a few minor nit-picks aside, "Red Vs. Blue" is a remarkable accomplishment, as the 9th season sees the series continuing to take things in fun, engaging new directions. While it's easy to miss the wall-to-wall comedy of the early seasons, the series has now "matured" and blends its comedic sensibilities with drama, action and even a moving moment or two along the way.

This set offers the entire 9th season.

VIDEO: "Red Vs. Blue" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presented using the "Halo Reach" video game and CGI, 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: Again for season 9, 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.

We also get a series of 5 PSAs (short comedy bits from the main characters), including one of my favorite PSA's the series has ever done: "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" (where Caboose finds his way into the campaign of "Halo Reach".) "Firefight", which sees the characters suddenly launched into rounds of firefight mode, is also a highlight.

Outtakes and deleted scenes are also offered, as well as nearly 30 minutes of "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, including interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a look at the visual effects. We also get the teaser trailer for season 9.

Final Thoughts: While "Red Vs. Blue" isn't without a few minor concerns at times, the series is remarkable for what it has accomplished and continues to accomplish, taking a light comedy and gradually expanding the universe into the action/comedy/drama sci-fi epic it now has become 9 seasons later. Highly recommended.

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