sfucsIt’s hard to review something like Six Feet Under: The Complete Series (2001 – 2005). There’s a good chance that fans of the series already own all the season sets for Six Feet Under, and viewers who have never watched the show may bulk at buying a box collection of the entire series. True, some will see this as an excellent time to buy the series on DVD, others will pass it over. No matter whom the audience is, rest assured this is a grand collection to one of HBO’s best and (I believe) underrated series.

Six Feet Under: The Complete Series (2001 – 2005) is currently on shelves, having been released on November 14th, 2006, in North America. The collection is also available to order online through many online venues.

I’ll say a few brief comments about the show, easily one of HBO’s most underrated series ever. It was sadly pushed aside when the hype surrounding The Sopranos hit, making this series the proverbial “second child” on the network. The series focuses on The Fischer family, and how the death of the family patriarch sets off a change of events, changing the lives of all involved forever. Yes, a bit clichéd it may sound, but that’s just the simplest way to put it.

What helps the show avoid the clichés that could sink any drama series is how the series gave each character room to shine, and allowed full character arcs and storylines to unfold. It’s rare to see such growth in characters during a series, a show that ran for just five years. That is what gives the show its charm, for lack of better word. It feels real. The characters feel real. We see them at their worst and at their best. We’re not manipulated to like these characters, but we see both the good and bad, leaving us to make our own judgment call on whether a character is good, bad, or something else entirely.

The show is also willing to take these characters anywhere and everywhere. We watch them explore life as they see fit, making mistakes along the way as any person would. And however extreme the circumstances may be from time to time (which is rare), nothing every feels wacky or out of place. It feels tangible, and we get to see these characters grow, even beyond their final appearance (we get a great epilogue to each life of the main characters within). Not only does the show introduce us to each character, but we also get to partake in their send-off, as well. It’s a truly brilliant and vastly underrated show which, hopefully someday, will get its’ day to shine (with any luck, interested folks will jump at the chance to try the series out with this box set collection).

With that in mind, the main focus of this little review of the set will be the set itself. Since the extras, video and audio quality are the same as those released, there’s no need to rehash that info. If you know the specs for the individual releases, you get them here. There are, however, some extras exclusive to this set.

Firstly, the packaging itself deserves some recognition. The box, which houses the entire series, is designed to look like a chunk of earth. The sides of the packaging showcase dirt and weeds, the top with grass and a small gravestone with the name of the series and it’s “date of birth” and “death.” The box itself does not take up a lot of room on the shelf, acting as the outer slipcase to all the digi-packs within. It will fit quite well alongside the other box sets in your collection. Plus, it looks quite good on the shelf. The box can be a bit flimsy, however, especially the flap that opens in the back of the box (to access the DVDs within). Be very careful when opening the set, as the flap can easily be tugged off if opened too quickly.

The box itself, as previously stated, holds the entire five seasons plus a nice hardcover book called “Six Feet Under” in Memoriam. The hardcover book contains the Fisher family tree, which includes a montage of character images and “epitaphs” of the show’s characters. It’s quite insightful and, for lack of a better word, cute. It chronicles what became of the Fisher clan, some well into the late twenty-first century. You’ll also find a pair of excellent Six Feet Under soundtracks.

As previously stated, since these discs are exactly the same discs available in the individual season collections, they’re all the same. The extras include:

-Commentary by cast and crew on 25 episodes
-Featurettes: “Under the Main Titles,” “Anatomy of a Working Stiff,” “Living on the Ledge: A Bird’s Eye View of the Third Season,” “Cut by Cut: Editing Six Feet Under,” “Life and Loss: The Impact of Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under: 2001-2005 series retrospective
-Deleted scenes
-Bob Costas cast interview

While it may not look that impressive, the collection contains a wealthy collection of extras worthy of any TV DVD release (or “TVDs” as my better half calls them). The featurettes are decent and provide a nice, fleeting glimpse at the behind-the-scenes mechanics to the series. Yes, there could have been much more done in terms of extras, but what’s provided on the disc is well done, though sometimes can feel to superfluous and fluffy at times. Given the themes of the series, it would have been nice to see some explore the consequences and reality of life, sex, and death.

Now, for those who already own the set and wish to upgrade, the decision is yours. All the extras featured are the same, with only the inclusion of a nice hardcover book and a couple of soundtracks. If you’re willing to plunk down money for that and a new slipcase, then go for it. If you’re perfectly content with the individual sets, then there’s no reason to upgrade. However, all things considered, I do find this to be a very worthy purchase for those casual fans of the shows, or those looking to give something new a shot. The entire series is fantastic, the extras are great, the quality is high, and while the packaging can be a bit flimsy and easily damageable, it’s sleek and fits perfectly on the shelf. Six Feet Under: The Complete Series (2001 – 2005) is a worthy investment and definitely Recommended.

Originally posted on the DVD Discussion forum on November 23rd, 2006.