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The Unit: Season 4(TV) (2008)
Packed with explosive action and edge-of-your-seat suspense, The Unit delivers a non-stop blast of spectacular thrills and hard-edged excitement! Risking their lives on deadly undercover missions around the globe, the Unit is a highly skilled, ultra-secret contingent of special forces soldiers operating outside the traditional chain of military command. Now, the hunters become the hunted as the team and their families are targeted by a deadly and far-reaching conspiracy. And, as they are forced to relocate and assume new identities, Season Four follows the complicated day-to-day lives, intricate military operations, and extraordinary heroism of the world’s finest counter-terrorism strike force – The Unit!
Disc 1: 182 Minutes
Disc 2: 176 Minutes
Disc 3: 176 Minutes
Disc 4: 176 Minutes
Disc 5: 176 Minutes
Disc 6: 152 Minutes
For more about The Unit: Season 4 and the The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray release, see the The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 4, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Directors: Dennis Haysbert, Bill L. Norton, Guy Norman Bee
Starring: Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick, Regina Taylor, Audrey Marie Anderson, Max Martini, Scott Foley (I)
» See full cast & crew
The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 4, 2009
What began as a red, white and blue network cash-in -- a humorless Team America calibrated for the over-fifty crowd -- soon evolved into a semi-decent guns-n-grenades television series. What surged as an intense but predictable ode to all things 24 quickly lost its way in its misguided, problematic third season. What struggled to find its footing in its fourth, some would say fiercest season met its end at the tip of an executive's red pen. The Unit has been a lot of things to a lot of people. To its devoted fanbase, it's been a taught, thrilling actioner. To its critics, it's been a cliché-ridden minefield littered with overreaching performances and inescapable plot holes. But to the rest of us, it's just another formulaic drama; third-tier TiVo filler that's only worth watching when nothing else is on.
Considering the vast majority of people reading this review are familiar with The Unit to some degree (or disgruntled fans wondering how I could possibly justify my score), I'll skip a long and lengthy synopsis in favor of the basics (just in case a straggling newcomer is wondering if the series is worth their investment). 24 ex-president Dennis Haysbert is Jonas Blane, a former Ranger and Green Beret tasked with leading a covert operations team on top-secret missions across the globe. Filling out the ranks are Mack Gerhardt (Max Martini), Bob Brown (Scott Foley), Charles Grey (Michael Irby), and new recruit Bridget Sullivan (Nicole Steinwedell), specialists and experts willing to risk life and limb for God and country. Under the watchful eye of unit commander Tom Ryan (Robert Patrick), the boys go up against some of the world's worst, fighting to protect freedom and their families back home. As Blane's team treks from hotspot to hotspot, their wives (Regina Taylor, Audrey Marie Anderson, and Abby Brammell) are often given equal screentime, allowing the series to flesh out the warriors' backstories and personal lives.
As nuanced and convincing as The Unit desperately wants to be, it rarely achieves the complexity and realism its writers are clearly aiming for. While season four tosses some fresh storylines into the mix, the majority of its episodes follow the same setup-conflict-payoff ritual that's dominated the series (and many, many others like it) since its debut. Sure, every show has a formula -- one it returns to again and again, generally ad nauseum -- but The Unit's formula reeks of Hollywood, despite its showrunners' assertions to the contrary. Haysbert and crew are sometimes given more exposition to spew in a single episode than any actor should be forced to spout in a career; most of the terrorists and rival soldiers the team are tasked with stopping are grossly ill-prepared for the arrival of America's best; and several shootouts (look no further than the fourth season's opening episode) progress as if they've been choreographed by middle-schoolers with a camcorder. Too harsh? Perhaps. But every time I try to tune out the clumsiness of the series' extras or the inconsistency of its action scenes (how hard is it for bad guys to cover escape routes?), I can't help but think about the other shows I could be watching.
It's no secret that network pressure to explain, explain, and explain everything again, again, and again has increased tenfold over the last decade. The Unit is yet another victim of this pressure, grabbing its viewers hands and guiding them through every inch of every covert operation Blane's fearsome warriors tackle. The series' writers -- who prove their worth with some of the subtle character beats and at-times moving interpersonal turmoil that ripen in season four -- either think very little of their audience (an unlikely scenario) or the network descended from on high to demand every blank be filled with an answer, every conflict be paired with a soap opera-culled confrontation, and the source of any hesitation be unraveled and revealed. Peril has as much of a psychological component in The Unit as a physical one, but I constantly feel as if I'm being overindulged; handed too much information with which to process the telegraphed madness erupting on the screen. It doesn't help that the villains-of-the-week, as well as the overarching threats that pull their strings, are as paint-by-the-numbers as they come. If The Wire taught us anything it's that infusing antagonists with convincing personalities and motivations can lead to rich, multi-layered brilliance. Sadly, The Unit seems terrified of humanizing a terrorist; mortified at the thought of granting a weapons peddler some empathy. It happens, sure, but not nearly as often as it should and usually only when a special guest star fills the shoes of an episode's baddie.
Here's the thing though: television viewers (myself included) are easily roped into the lives of likable characters, of which The Unit has many. I don't believe its fans are necessarily proponents of big-dumb-fun (minus the fun) or popcorn-munching action-junkies who need everything explained to them. I would wager they're simply viewers who've been on board from the very beginning, following Blane and his men on so many missions that the show's flaws have become just another thread, a negligible one at that, in the tapestry. Focusing on the lives of the team's family members no doubt helps, as does the equally strong performances of the series' female leads. If nothing else, it allows the majority of the storylines that emerge to appeal to both sides of the couch. While He's wrapped up in the gunplay and strategy, She's handed troubled kids, struggling wives, and a drawn-out affair (that finally finds resolution by the end of the season). As a casual viewer though, I can see exactly why The Unit was bleeding viewers. With 24, Prison Break, and a cadre of similar series haunting the airwaves, it was only a matter of time before audiences grew bored and moved onto bigger and better things.
Frankly, the high definition release of The Unit: The Complete Fourth Season will only matter to those who started watching the show in 2006. A canceled series isn't likely to generate much interest among newcomers, nor is it likely to bring many regulars through its closing doors. If Fox was offering a Blu-ray edition of the four-season box set it recently dropped on DVD, it would certainly earn more attention than a single season (a fourth and final season at that). If you've enjoyed The Unit over the last three years, this release is for you. However, if you've never taken the time to sample the series, season four is hardly the place to start.
The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Unit: The Complete Fourth Season boasts a stark, sometimes striking 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that owes a debt of gratitude to 24, as well as its penchant for overblown contrast and overheated whites. The series' palette is anchored to a range of bleached primaries and bronzed skintones, but it works well within the confines of its creators' established aesthetics. Likewise, shadows are often reduced to inkblots and bright skies wipe away detail on a regular basis, but anyone who's accustomed to shows with a similar visual style will feel right at home. Thankfully, textures are shockingly crisp, edges are razor sharp, and fine facial features like stubble and scars look amazing. More importantly, black levels are well resolved, contrast is vibrant and stable, and nighttime sequences look quite good. Once you get past the incessant but intentional noise and heavy grain that litters the image, you'll also notice how technically proficient the picture is. Artifacting, significant edge enhancement, aliasing, and noise reduction are nowhere to be found. All things considered, Fox's Blu-ray transfer will satiate the appetite of any viewer longing for one last hit of The Unit.
The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Unit seems handcrafted for lossless glory and Fox's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track takes full advantage of every kick kack, rat-a-tat tat, and thoom that erupts across its soundfield. Even though the series itself is surprisingly chatty -- with plenty of soft-spoken exchanges and family drama -- its quiet disposition is peppered with a bass-heavy score, a series of weighty voices and, of course, enough explosions and gunplay to pack some serious punch. LFE output is strong and fulfilling (particularly each time the team ventures abroad), the rear speakers are agile and aggressive, and dialogue is crisp and nicely prioritized. Moreover, directionality is precise, pans are smooth, immersion is a cinch, and dynamics are brazen and bold. As it stands, it's a more satisfying sonic experience than most television releases deliver and fans will eat up every rip-roaring second it has to offer.
The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like many recent television releases from Fox, The Unit: The Complete Fourth Season arrives with very little supplemental content. A small batch of Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 minutes) left me yawning; Into Hell: A Brotherhood Divided (HD, 11 minutes) is a bland episode-specific EPK that spends far too much time recapping plot-points to offer any insight into the production; Shadow Riders: A Western Come Undone (HD, 8 minutes) is another boring episode-centric featurette that commits the same cardinal sin; and Snake Doctor: A Leader Among Us (HD, 5 minutes) is a look at a Dennis Haysbert-directed episode that suffers from a strikingly similar structure and fate. All together, Fox's five-disc set includes less than thirty minutes of special features. Hardly becoming of a respectable television release, even for a show that's been canceled.
The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Unit has never been a show that's appealed to everyone, and its Complete Fourth Season follows suit. Unless you've been on board from the beginning, there isn't much here to warrant your attention. Granted, a strong, technically proficient video transfer and a booming DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track await anyone who picks up this release, but an impressive AV presentation can't overcome the sort of overwrought storylines, stilted exposition, and mediocre action that weighs down The Unit's episodes. Fans will be pleased with the results, but newcomers will rightfully wonder why the fourth and final season of a canceled show is worth their hard-earned cash.
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The Unit: Season 4 Blu-ray, News and Updates
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• The Unit Season 4 Blu-ray for September - June 10, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is set to release 'The Unit: The Complete Fourth Season' on Blu-ray on September 29, day-and-date with the DVD. This five-disc set will come with 1.78:1 high-definition video, accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, ...
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