Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season

Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season
If the first season of HBO's fantastic Six Feet Under were a casket, it would be the Titan Series - elegant, classy, a little more expensive but demonstrating refined taste. Packaged in a beautiful faux coffin box, the 13 episodes of this family drama - centred around the Fisher and Sons Funeral Home - rank amongst the best of recent television DVDs. It follows not only the family, but their paramours: repressed funeral director David (Michael C. Hall) and his wayward brother Nate (Peter Krause), along with twisted young sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose) and blooming flower of a mother Ruth (Frances Conroy) all face personal loss when the family patriarch (Richard Jenkins) is killed in the series' opening moments. It personalises the family business immediately, and Jenkins' regular appearances - not as a ghost, exactly, but as a manifestation of his family's struggle with grief - are a way into this unfamiliar world. Six Feet Under deals with death in every episode - its signature, which gets twisted and manipulated as the series goes on, is a death that opens each episode - but it's not mortality that's got every member of this large ensemble twisted in knots, it's loneliness. All the Fishers, as well as every other peripheral character in the ensemble, are desperately, heartbreakingly lonely and the drive to connect on any level is what feeds the show's drama. This DVD gives you the show itself, but withholds a bit on of what's behind it. One featurette serves more as a preview for season two, but another, on the making of the show's haunting opening credits, is quite good. Creator and writer/ director Alan Ball provides occasionally interesting commentary on his two episodes, but an opportunity is missed by not having its other episode directors record their own commentary tracks. That list includes The Good Girl's Miguel Arteta, High Art's Lisa Cholodenko, actress Kathy Bates and Canadian director Jeremy Podeswa. A single deleted scene, music tracks and other extras are thin; the show itself, consistently engaging, fascinating, harrowing and hilarious is the open casket on display. Extras: two episode commentary by Alan Ball, pilot episode deleted scene, "Under the Main Titles" featurette, "Behind the Scenes" featurette, two music tracks including theme remix by Kid Loco, cast and crew bios. (HBO/Warner)