Six Feet Under: The Complete Series

"This is a show about death, so let’s kill somebody!” The enthused words of Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, ring out during an afterthought featurette on the series. For five seasons, the HBO show brought death out of the closet and made facing mortality the hot topic at the water cooler with this glimpse into the business of a family owned funeral parlour. The Fisher clan are not your ordinary family: Nate (Peter Krause) is the negligent, carefree son; David (Michael C. Hall) is the repressed gay son; Claire (Lauren Ambrose) is the teenage rebel; and Ruth (Frances Conroy) is the frigid mother. Needless to say, they are not the ingredients for a conventional family drama — each member is constantly in search of some kind of release for their lonely blues, be it through love, religion, one-night stands, drugs or whatever else creeps their way, and it’s seldom we’re not enthralled by their actions. Throughout the five seasons many different arcs revolving around each character surface, which helped make this one of the most riveting programs on the tube. With each episode launched by the death of a stranger (whom the Fishers would then service), it was dense, consuming drama with a much-needed heaping tablespoon of black comedy. From the inaugural death of Fisher family patriarch Nathaniel to the tasteful and satisfying death toll finale, Alan Ball set forth a wild ride through a family plagued with issues. But with such a talented ensemble cast, with each member as important as the next, and a profound, sometimes even hilarious script from week to week, it was no surprise that this was the work of the brains behind American Beauty. Who can forget Ruth on ecstasy running through the woods chasing a bear with a pocket watch, or possibly the show’s most disturbing episode, David’s horrifying kidnapping where he’s forced to smoke Angel Dust, is held at gunpoint and doused in gasoline? Though not a perfect show from beginning to end — some nagging recurrences in the strenuous relationships of Nate and Brenda, and David and Keith are trying at times — Six Feet Under accurately delivered a profound tale on a taboo subject with a perfect balance of escapism, heavy crises and zany humour. It’s even funeral director-approved, just check out the featurette! This complete collection isn’t necessary if you’ve already accumulated the series so far on DVD, as all of the discs are the exact same, including the generous and worthwhile extras. However, anyone that’s held out until the series ended will be in for a treat. Packaged in a luxurious "grassy tombstone” box, this is beautifully presented. Additionally, there is a nicely assembled booklet filled with the two soundtrack CDs and a great profile of the show, including a family tree of the characters, as well as an obituary for each one along with photos. (HBO / Warner)