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Sirens: The Complete First Season
In the post-"Office" world of American television, bringing shows over from other countries has become a crutch for TV. The last few years are littered with failed adaptations of foreign TV shows, including "Kath & Kim", "Rake", "Gracepoint", "Prime Suspect", and more. "Sirens" is a pretty decent TV show, with plenty of funny dialogue exchanges, a good cast, and a nice pace. Yet, it's hard to figure out exactly what the hook of the show is, what reason it has to exist. It often feels as if the fact that it's a remake of a British TV show -- even though this fact is downplayed in the show's closing credits -- is supposed to justify its existence.
It's true that paramedics occupy a bit of a gulf between the ever-popular cop and doc shows. "Trauma" tried to fill that gap, but was canceled after one season. There's a sense that a funny version of "Trauma" could have been attractive to viewers, but the show is fairly broad with its comedy, which ends up making the show feel more like a second-rate version of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" that refuses to commit to full-on cartoon ridiculousness. In any case, the emphasis in each episode is more on the character threads than the paramedic element, possibly because people needing help with grievous injury is not necessarily a great recipe for comedy.
Despite the show's lack of a recurring conflict or concept that unites the episodes, the show is generally amusing. All three of the leads have a nice dynamic, with Mosley playing the wry man's man, Daniels coming in with a smug but dry sense of humor, and Bigley playing the excited puppy dog eager to learn more about the job, even when it's disgusting. That said, McNamee and the lady EMTs (Kelly O'Sullivan as "Voodoo", Maura Kidwell as "Stats", and Kirsten Fitzgerald as "Mac") working alongside the lead characters may be the series' MVPs, each one committing even more to the series' goofy tone. In one episode, they rattle off a list of crude nicknames for vaginas. In another, all three men sneak into Theresa's house looking for Johnny's iPad so they can erase the browser history, leading to an awkward encounter where the guys, Theresa, and her three friends all get an eyeful of the massive penis belonging to Theresa's new partner, Billy (Josh Segarra). The show's sexiness gives it a bit of a comic edge, including a spectacular slapstick sequence in which a drunk Theresa comes over looking to hook up with Johnny. The series also features the great Bill Nunn as Cash, an older paramedic who sits around the office, dispensing advice and snacking on miniature Twix bars.
To be clear, I'm not saying people shouldn't like "Sirens." It's a perfectly amusing show, and the first 10 episodes on this 2-disc set are a breeze to watch. It's just a show in search of a story, one that kinda jumps into the day-to-day lives of these people without any other ongoing thread to try and keep them tuning in other than the joy of seeing what these guys are up to next week. If that's good enough for you (and it seems it's good enough for someone, as "Sirens" has already been renewed for a second season), then have at it. Just don't be surprised when the program's just kind of there, fingers crossed that the viewer will be invested enough in the self-contained adventures of the characters to keep them coming back week after week.
As with a number of 20th Century Fox TV shows, "Sirens" has been released as an MOD DVD-R title. A publicity photo of the main trio, a couple of photos, a little text, and that's all she wrote (lots of blank, sky blue space on this cover). The two-disc set comes in an eco-friendly case with a flap tray (the kind that uses less plastic, no holes). There is no insert.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the show has a slightly increased amount of digital softness on edges than a pressed DVD set might, but it otherwise looks pretty good, with a decent amount of detail and natural, vivid color. No obvious banding or artifacts intrude on the picture. As far as the sound goes, despite the amount of EMT action contained within, this is still basically a dialogue-heavy program, with very little emphasis on atmosphere, outside of the bar the gang meets at in almost every episode. As with all of these Fox MOD titles (unfortunately), no subtitles or captions are offered.
"Sirens" is an entertaining show, but it feels so random. It's structured more like sitcoms in the vein of "The Office", where the premise provides a universal appeal and the focus is on character arcs, but "Sirens" rarely focuses on EMT work and hardly seems interested in developing a thread beyond a single episode. Perhaps with another season, Leary and Fisher will have a better idea of where it is they want to go with the program, but until then, maybe hold this one as a rental instead of a purchase.
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