TITLE: HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (BLU-RAY DISC) (DVD)
Release Date: September 4, 2012 (HBO Home Entertainment)
Color / 2011
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 8
Running Time: 240 minutes
Running Time of Features: 34 minutes
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, Spanish
Subtitles and Captioning: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries (3); "Inside the Series" featurette; "3 Days Downtown" featurette
Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) are back again and trying to make it big in How to Make it in America - The Complete Second Season! It's sort of like Entourage, but instead of trying to make it big as actors in Hollywood, these guys are trying to make it in the fashion design industry in New York City. The first season ended with the duo taking a business trip to Tokyo, but now they're back and things couldn't be better... or so it seems! Now, HBO has compiled all eight episodes of the second (and likely final) season onto DVD and Blu-ray. We'll be reviewing the Blu-ray release.
The second season begins with "I'm Good," where Ben and Cam return to NYC and are full of optimism. Meanwhile, Rachel realizes she still has feelings for Ben, but he has, well, sort of moved on. In "In or Out," Ben faces complications in moving forward in his relationship with Julie and Cam may just be ready to leave his grandmother's place. In "Money, Power, Private School," Rachel learns that Ben and Julie may be on the verge of splitting... and of course, she will be there to help in any way possible. Ben's friendship with Rachel is tested in "It's Not Even Like That."
A large midwestern retailer could be getting designs from CRISP into their store in "Mofongo," but when Nancy puts the kibosh on it, Ben and Cam take matters into their own hands. Nancy sets Ben and Cam up with a manufacturer in "I'm Sorry, Who's Yosi?," but Ben senses a conflict of interest. In "The Friction," Ben and Cam debate the future of CRISP. The season/series ends with "What's in a Name?," where Ben tries to find a way to get CRISP (oh, and his friendship with Cam) back together.
The episodes all appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:
1. "I'm Good" (29:19)
2. "In or Out" (28:38)
3. "Money, Power, Private School" (29:08)
4. "It's Not Even Like That" (28:33)
5. "Mofongo" (27:47)
6. "I'm Sorry, Who's Yosi?" (28:03)
7. "The Friction" (27:03)
8. "What's in a Name?" (29:24)
The packaging for this case is a pretty standard digipack (which HBO seems to use for just about all of their releases), and it is kind of nice to see them sticking to that standard. But what I really like about the packaging is the artwork. I'll admit, I'm probably making a bigger deal out of than it is worth, but I really do like the artwork. On the cover, we have a black and white cast photo in front of the New York City skyline... but with a white background. They've added some color to the cover, though, by putting red and blue shadow outlines around the characters, creating an effect which I sort of enjoy seeing. The back of the case has a few color photos of the cast members, along with a description of the series and a listing of special features. Inside, the three panel digipack depicts the inside of a subway station (with some more cool color effects), along with a listing of all of the episodes. There are no episode descriptions, though, as is common with HBO releases. The disc artwork is very nicely designed as well, with the series logo and the same NYC skyline photo seen on the cover. Each disc in the Blu-ray set contains four discs.
Menu Design and Navigation:
I'm deeply convinced that HBO is the one studio which has mastered the art of Blu-ray menu design. That isn't to say there aren't other good studios out there, but HBO's Blu-ray menus are truly spectacular and have great effects. The main menu features a background of a New York street corner which rotates almost (but not quite) 360º, with video clips from the episodes in the center of the screen. The people on the streets have the same red-blue edging as seen on the cover art. Options from the main menu include Episodes, Languages, and Features. Selecting Episodes brings up a pop up menu with options of Play All and Episodes. If you select Episodes, you'll get another pop up menu which shows you all of the episodes, one by one, with a brief description, writing credits, directing credits, and options to view a recap of the previous episode and a preview of the current episode. If the episode has a commentary, you can also play it from here as well. As is typical for HBO Blu-rays, all eight episodes and all of the special features can be accessed from either disc, so if you select a special feature or episode on the other disc, you'll be prompted to insert that disc (it will play immediately upon inserting it). Each episode has roughly five chapters placed within it.
Video and Audio Quality:
I really can't find anything to complain about with the video and audio quality. It is essentially perfect throughout, with no problems at all. Of course, it is presented in high-definition, and you'll get what amounts to a true HD quality experience. The episodes are in their original aspect ratio (not at all surprising), and the main audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There are other audio options as well, such as French and Spanish. And subtitles? They've got them for English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
They didn't really load this set up with special features, but you'll find a few of them. These begin with the audio commentaries. The episodes containing these are "I'm Good," "In or Out," and "What's In a Name?" The same people appear in all of the commentaries: Ian Edelman, Julian Farino, Bryan Greenberg. It would have been nice to have heard some other voices, but at least we've got the two stars in here.
"Inside the Series" (10:09) is just a brief behind-the-scenes look at the second season of the series with interviews from the cast and crew. There is a bit of irony in the fact that this feature seems to have an optimistic view that the series will really be taking off, but I suppose that is to be expected from any series.
"3 Days Downtown" (8:23) is one of those more personal "true story" style features, where we get a glimpse into the real stories of three young entrepreneurs trying to find their own success in New York City. Some people find special features like this to be a bit dull or obnoxious, but personally, I like these... it is interesting to see that what we're seeing on TV, while it is a fictional story, is not really all that far-fetched and there are similar stories out there.
Finally, there are "previously on" and "preview" segments for each episode. The "previously on" segments are about 45 seconds each, while the "preview" segments are about 30 seconds each. These are very useful in case you skip an episode for whatever reason or if you are trying to find a particular episode and need to see a preview to job your memory.
The special features really aren't as numerous this time. Fewer commentaries, fewer interviews, no deleted scenes... but what can you expect from a final season?
Well, this is probably it... the end. I liked the show in the first season, but it never really gained much traction, and in a sense, the writing was on the wall that it wouldn't go far even before the beginning of this season. It is almost as if they didn't even really try too hard with this season, which is a shame. Apparently, executive producer Mark Wahlberg is trying to get the show to continue on another network, but that seems a little far-fetched. The show would have to be significantly changed to work on most cable networks (and it would need viewers to support ad sales), and it just wouldn't work on other premium networks. I thought that it would fill the void left by Entourage, but that won't be happening now obviously. But if you're a fan of Entourage, I still say to give this show a chance. Typically, it is compared unfavorably to that series (and I'll admit Entourage is a better show), but this show has charm too... I just wish that we could have seen it go into some deeper plot lines (you can't really do that when your entire run is sixteen episodes though, especially when plots run across multiple episodes). The series is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy series about people trying to make it from nothing to something big, and the Blu-ray set is a very nice collection... it is just too bad the series itself didn't make it big.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/04/12
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