The Night Of (Blu-ray Review)

The Night Of Blu-ray ReviewVanity Fair called HBO’s limited series, The Night Of, “The best TV you’ll see this summer.”  Who am I to argue with that claim?  I learned about the show from all the buzz it was experiencing online before the series even premiered.  Because of its early release online I made my girlfriend watch it with me on Apple TV.  The rest is history. Like a meth addict, we were instantly hooked and waited with anticipation for the new episode each Sunday night.  This is ironic too considering we were basically wishing our weekend away because the inevitable would ultimately see us back to the grind at work the very next morning.  The drama in this show is just so damn gripping that much like my first experience with the film The Warrior (starring Tom Hardy) I never wanted it to end.  Sad, but true things did come to a grueling end on the show here.  However, it was a very realistic ending and I applaud it for that even though there’s no more of this to go around (even a second season would be executed much like HBO’s other anthology series True Detective).

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So here we are.  It’s the fall season now.  That can only mean one thing besides the obvious that Santa Claus is making plans to come to town.  The Night Of, the acclaimed HBO limited series that captivated TV audiences this summer as you already know, is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on October 18th.  That’s all fine and dandy.  I did my job marketing the show with all the status quo buzz words, captions and whatnot the studio wants you to hear.  However, I have so far neglected to tell you yet what it’s all about and who all the major players are.  What do you say I rectify that right now?

The Night Of is created and executive produced by Steven Zaillian (Oscar winner, Best Adapted Screenplay, Schindler’s List) and Richard Price (The Wire).  The show is based on the BBC series Criminal Justice, created by Peter Moffat.  Now here’s where it gets even better…the brilliant casting of the series.  The ensemble cast includes Michael Kenneth Williams, Bill Camp, Jeannie Berlin, Poorna Jagannathan, Payman Maadi, Glenne Headly, Amara Karan, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Paul Sparks, Ben Shenkman, Afton Williamson, Paulo Costanzo, Ned Eisenberg, Mohammad Bakri, Nabil Elouahabi, Ashley Thomas, Glenn Fleshler and Chip Zien.  With the exception of Nightcrawler, I wasn’t too familiar with actor Riz Ahmed before this show.  He’s now everywhere I look with an appearance in the latest Jason Bourne film to kicking it big time as a cast member in this December’s Rogue One.  You can’t get much bigger than that last title in my opinion.

In The Night Of, Pakistani-American college student Nasir Khan (or simply Naz) lives with his hard working, loving parents in Queens, NY.  One fateful night, after being stood up by his friend, he takes his father’s taxi to go to a party in Manhattan.  Needless to say he never makes it there.  Instead his life takes a big, albeit first pleasurable, but ultimately tragic turn.  What becomes a perfect night for most guys his age Naz wakes up to a nightmare when he’s arrested for murder.  The series goes on to examine the police investigation, the legal proceedings, the criminal justice system and Rikers Island, the horrible, beyond imaginable place where the accused await trial.  I don’t think I would even last a day there, but our protagonist endures and each subsequent, tragic episode we die and succumb to evil a little more along with him.  It’s so powerful and mesmerizing, it just needs to be seen how he realistically deconstructs.

The Night Of 5

So remember back in the 1990’s when NBC had that magical Thursday night lineup of Friends, Seinfeld and even ER?  They billed it as must-see TV.  Well I’m here to tell you in 2016 that this ladies and gentlemen is must-see TV.  Wait!  Can I call it that?  It’s not TV, it’s HBO.  Okay, let me rephrase that then.  The Night Of is must-see HBO.  How’s that?  Better?  So to say The Night Of is any kind of typical legal proceedings, cop showing would be like saying Olive Garden is real Italian food.  It’s simply not.  The show dives head first into the very deep waters of a complex murder case with both cultural and political overtones, and never shies away once from the ugliness of it all.  I felt so bad for Naz and that suspension of disbelief stayed with me until the series’ final frame.  It’s raw, visceral and real.  I never saw anything like it in regards to a cop drama.  So yeah ladies and gentlemen, this is must-see HBO!  I rest my case.

Now don’t get me wrong, The Night Of is not all about seeing Naz suffer.  Oh no!  It’s about watching him make one bad choice after another, but the beautiful part about it all is he does so to stay alive.  You may not understand, but have you ever been incarcerated like this?  I don’t think so.  However, the show is more than just Naz.  It’s also a starring vehicle for the very underrated John Tuturro.  He takes your heart and smashes it the brilliant way he makes you care about him through his mind-blowing performances.  The way he cares one minute (like about a cat for example) and is able to shut his emotions off the very next moment is a survival instinct parallel to what we see Naz going through.  He does what he does to stay alive.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not lavish.  It’s plain and simple survival of the fittest.  Step up and do something or be found laid to waste like roadkill.  It’s that simple.  So I guess what I am trying to say here is it’s not just the mesmerizing and interesting story here, but it’s the characters and performances of them all that really sell this show.

So yeah, like HBO’s True Detective both the characters and story sell the show here.  Every character just feels three-dimensional and has this vast depth to them all.  Even the minor characters such as the police officers who bring Naz in make you feel something for them.  Whether they are big or small characters, they’re all essential and important to me here because after all, Naz’s life depends upon it.  One slip up in the legal proceedings or mistake with the red tape is all it takes to set a killer free.  Wait a minute!  I never did really say whether Naz is completely innocent or guilty?  Ha ha.  I’m not going to tell you.  For everyone that has not seen this limited series, you need to!  All others, please proceed down below to learn about how this series looks and sounds on the Blu-ray format because I can talk for hours and I haven’t even got to the good stuff like drug smuggling in vaginas, prison acts of sex and violence or my favorite character, Detective Box (Bill Camp) and his personal plight.

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  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Region(s): A, B, C
  • Clarity/Detail: This one is a hard one to judge so I’m going to be very critical about this presentation.  There are moments where it really shines (pun ver much intended) such at the shiny floors of the college gymnasium and their respective bleachers, but in the dark things do get soft occasionally.  There are other moments of intentional softness such as looking through a car window and whatnot, but what I am trying to say is this one is far from perfect.  However, thats not to say there’s not moments of utmost clarity such as detail in textures like clothing, brick, wood and prison cells to John Turturro’s ugly looking eczema all over his Saran-wrapped body (it’s very painful to view), stubble on characters’ chins and shaved heads, moles on skin, etc.  Other than that, I think this looks like an unmistakable HBO show on Blu-ray.  I don’t know how to back up what I’m saying, but anyone familiar with HBO series Blu-ray titles probably gets it.
  • Depth: Because of the three-dimensional pop the onscreen characters exhibit the depth of field is insanely good here throughout with backgrounds blurred out, etc.  One of my favorite shots here is in the first episode where Naz sits on the bank of the river with the bridge in the background and lights illuminating the night skyline.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are all pretty much deep and inky throughout.  I know I complained about some soft, darker shots up above, but there are many good moments of fine details in the shadows.  This show is a very dark one so you just have to embrace that.
  • Color Reproduction: As I stated up above the overall theme of the series is dark, with a lot of smoky grey and black. The only time you see colors are city shots before “night” and of course anything outside of the prison.  I do love the way Naz’s yellow cab he drives in the first episode is rendered.  One of my favorite shots in this series that just pops color-wise is when Naz goes into the gas station to view their beverage selection.  Once he gets arrested though the colors are void and very few and far between.  It’s a dark, gritty show rooted in its visceral, brutal subject matter.
  • Flesh Tones: For the most part, the skin tones looked natural and authentic throughout the series.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s a very thin layer of grain throughout.  It’s never obtrusive or too much.  The real problem for me though are moments of banding with solid background colors.

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  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish DTS Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
  • DynamicsThe Night Of is a television drama series.  Therefore, things do get very front heavy in this audio presentation.  That’s kind of sad as it’s not the level of immersion I’m used to from HBO, but I got to keep reminding myself this is not a Game of Thrones Blu-ray presentation, but rather that of a standard drama.  So essentially it is what it is.  However, with that being said the score is smoothly worked in, but the overall essence of immersion just isn’t there for me.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE makes itself known in the score and soundtrack department and other than that were limited to moments of onscreen action like prison fights (and associated events there such as the buzzing and closing of controlled security doors theres) and vehicles such as the infamous taxi, the train in the background and even a motorcycle.  My favorite bass moment has to be the opening score.  It’s hypnotic and trippy.  In other words it’s addicting.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Rest assured there are moments of surround sound, but they are very few and far between.  Most of the times all I heard was white noise and quaint hiss in the rears.  However, the rear channels are utilized for onscreen effects, ambiance, score and even for police radios, etc.  You get the point.  It’s not an immersive surround track, but rather a front heavy, character driven drama and there’s nothing wrong with that.  This one shouldn’t sound like San Andreas.  You wouldn’t want it to either.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  I’m ecstatic to report that spoken words are loud, clear and intelligible.

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Sadly, and I use that word with much emphasis here, The Night Of is an easy one to report on in the Extras category.  With the exception of the Digital HD redemption code good for both iTunes HD and UltraViolet retailers there’s nothing to write about here.  I thought it was weird that there was nothing on the back of the box art.  I went through all 3 Blu-ray discs in this set and found zilch.  There’s not even an audio commentary.  This is so unlike a typical HBO Blu-ray release.  If anything begs for supplemental features, I would think this outstanding limited series warranted it.  However, what do I know?  Therefore, I’m giving it a half doggie in the score department for at least providing us Digital Copies in HD.

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I hope there are some readers out there as surprised as I am to see this only get a total score of 4.  As amazing as this show is this 3-disc Blu-ray set of The Night Of isn’t.  Audio and video gradings are fair, but the release comes bare bones void of any extras (with exception of Digital Copies).  It feels like it was rushed to the market and smells of a double dip opportunity for the studio.  Don’t you think?  So my advice is to proceed with caution.  If you must have it, then there’s your pre-order link down below.  If you want to wait for the eventual double dip, that’s up to you.  If it were my personal decision, I’d probably go for the cheapest price possible that I could pick this up for later this year.  Regardless, enjoy and thanks for reading!


Re-Live All The Red Tape

& Complex Legal Proceedings

in HBO’s The Night Of 

on Blu-ray October 18th




The Night Of


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “The Night Of (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Cash

    probably a rush out blu-ray and a special edition will be 6 months down the road