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‘Rizzoli & Isles’ The Complete Fourth Season (DVD Review)

Rizzoli and IslesI’m new to the world of Rizzoli & Isles. I’ve never watched a single episode of the series and was somewhat shocked to see that it’s now up to season four, so it’s obvious that it generates enough ratings to keep it on the air. I also figured that I might as well jump right into the events of season four first and catch up with the previous three seasons at a later date. All I knew going into season four of Rizzoli & Isles was that there were two very attractive females on the cover of the DVD case. Now, a couple of pretty faces don’t make or break a show, but what was I in store for? Read on to find out, folks! 

Rizzoli and Isles

The Show 

Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) are out there cracking skulls and taking names…and looking fabulous while doing so. Okay, that last part is a bit misleading, because the cover art on the DVD makes it look like a mash of Sex and the City and CSI, which thankfully it is NOT. I was very apprehensive about reviewing this season due to not having watched any of the previous seasons and not having the time to catch up.

Season four of Rizzoli & Isles has the ladies trying to solve various murders; Maura and her estranged mother are on call to testify against Maura’s incarcerated mob-boss father while Jane tries to resolve her relationship with her military boyfriend. I will go on record and say that if you’re new to the show then it would be a bit wise to start from the beginning as opposed to jumping right into season four like I did. You should also ignore the sunny disposition of the promotional materials. The show tends to heat up during the crime set ups while coming back down to speed during familial situations.

The chemistry between Rizzoli and Isles is great and after the previous season’s drama – Isles gave her estranged mother a kidney – she is staying with the Rizzoli’s temporarily. There are a lot of moments of female bonding and reconciliation. Throw in Rizzoli’s mother played by Lorraine Bracco and hijinks ensue. I reckon the Boston make of this upper working class family tends to rub off on everyone that comes within walking distance.

I should touch upon a bit on the case files that both women work on. Some of the case files are pretty grim and strong. Violence and brutality levels are high depending on the case. There was one episode where a victim’s through was viciously cut that it gave me goose bumps and made me sort of queasy when Isles read from the autopsy report. The textual description was INSANE and for a minute there I thought I was watching Se7en again. In doing some research on the show it came to my attention that the show was inspired from real case files. I guess it also helps that executive producer/writer Janet Tamaro (Bones, Trauma) is the show’s front-runner and that her past experience as a television reporter enhance the realism that hover from case to case.

As you can see by my review of the show (and four dog rating) it will soon be time to catch up from the beginning, because season five is set or has already begun to air. For those in doubt I’d suggest giving it a try and stay with it for a few episodes. There’s great chemistry from the main cast and supporting cast and many familiar faces spring up here and there.

Season Four Episodes

We are Family

In Over Your Head

But I Am a Good Girl

Killer in High Heels

Dance with the Devil

Somebody’s Watching Me

All for One

Cold as Ice

No One Mourns the Wicked

Built for Speed

Judge, Jury and Executioner

Partners in Crime

Tears of a Clown

Just Push Play

Food for Thought

You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

 

Rizzoli and Isles

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2

Resolution: 480p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Let’s keep in mind that these episodes are presented in standard definition and NOT in high definition. There are limits to the source material, which is why the video score gets am average score.

Depth: Contrast levels fluctuate here and there along with sharpness. I did notice on more than one occasion some sudden blooming or pulsing. It was minimal but I had to open my eyes wide to make sure it wasn’t just me passing out. I kid about that second part. 😉

Black Levels: Black levels crush a bit but nothing to distracting.

Color Reproduction: The color palette with regard to the ladies and their fashionable outfits do give it a certain colorful pop in addition to some scenes that happen to have greenery and such.

Flesh Tones: Unless you’re in the role of a victim everyone looks peachy.

Noise/Artifacts: Noise and artifacts do creep up constantly but you have to consider the source.

 

Rizzoli and Isles

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French

Dynamics: This is a very dynamic surround sound track that plays @384 kbps, which is on the lower end of the surround spectrum, but more than makes up for it where it counts. The show combines action, drama, with some subtle shifts in tone. The 5.1 surround track handles it beautifully.

Low Frequency Extension: There’s some nice low-end that can be felt on the more action-oriented episodes.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround channels handle more than ambience. You get a real sense of depth as if you were walking the Boston streets yourself.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and crisp, so you will get to hear exactly what those are saying involved on the case without any problems.

Rizzoli and Isles

Extras 

This DVD set could have been beefed up a bit but what are you going to do? There are two short featurettes that are actually pretty entertaining. It’s the lack of anything else that drags the rating down.

  • When Truth Meets Fiction (SD, 18:45) – A very entertaining look with executive producer and writer Janet Tamaro as she takes you into the world of Rizzoli & Isles and how they come up with the stories. I enjoyed this short look what goes into the making of the episodes. It looks as though being an “executive producer” on the show is not just a passive title.
  • Building Boston (SD, 6:19) – This is my favorite of the two featurettes included on the DVD set and we are taken on a tour by series production designer Lauren Crasco as she tells you how she turned Los Angeles into Boston. Wait, what? Yes, Rizzoli & Isles is shot in Los Angeles for the most part.

 

Rizzoli and Isles

Summary

Rizzoli & Isles is a very cool show and I highly recommend it to our readers. The DVD set is average in terms of video and audio specs, with very minimal special features. The overall score of this DVD set is reflected in the final averaged out review. If you can get past minimal extras and average/above average tech-specs then this show is highly recommended.

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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