DVD Review: Roswell: The Complete First Season

Roswell: The Complete First Season
Reviewed by Kenna » 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Five days ago, I died. After that, things got really weird…”

With these words, the first season of Roswell was launched and a television phenomenon was born. When the pilot episode debuted on the WB on October 6, 1999, it immediately captured the interest of legions of fans who found themselves caught up in the story of three alien teens and the small circle of humans whom they befriend.

Within the first few minutes of the pilot, one of the aliens saves the life of his longtime crush — a human girl — and thus begins a unique series which sets out to explore the concept of teenage alienation in both a literal and a figurative sense. As the season progresses, viewers follow the aliens on a quest to learn about their past while avoiding unwanted attention from the rest of the population. Several individuals, suspicious of the events surrounding the shooting, begin investigating the teens, and the drama and suspense build throughout the season.

Fans tuned in each week to watch the development of the characters and their interpersonal and interspecies relationships, and many came to consider the characters their own. Various fan groups adopted specific characters and/or relation’ships’ and alternately praised or pilloried the writers and producers for the plotlines involving those characters. However, the first season of Roswell is universally acclaimed by fans as the best of the three seasons, and rightly so. These episodes establish the characters and their relationships with one another, forming the groundwork for the seasons to come. With the focus of the majority of the episodes on character development rather than science fiction, viewers get a very real sense of having come to know these characters, which in no small part contributes to the success of the series.

The Roswell: The Complete First Season DVD is presented on six discs. The episodes are displayed in widescreen anamorphic picture format, and offer closed captioning with English, Spanish and French subtitles. (In my opinion, just the opportunity to view the episodes in the widescreen format is worth the purchase price of the set.)

The soundtracks are provided with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround technology. The tracks have been reworked, due to issues involving the rights to some of the songs that were originally used for the episodes. The same team that chose the original music was assembled to rework the soundtracks, and does an admirable job. For the most part, the songs chosen evoke the same mood for the scenes as that of the original music; there were only two instances in which the difference was noticeable enough to distract me from the action of the scene. (For those who were worried, the credits still include the original theme song — Dido’s “Here With Me”.)

The special features include a deleted scene from the pilot, Emilie de Ravin’s audition for the role of Tess, and Sense Field’s “Save Yourself” music video with Shiri Appleby. In addition, there are audio commentaries for six of the episodes: ‘Pilot’, ‘Blood Brother’, ‘The Balance’, ‘Sexual Healing’, ‘Crazy’, and ‘Destiny’. The writer/producer/director commentaries provide interesting tidbits regarding the making of the episodes, the motivation behind various scenes, and the mechanics of shooting them. The actor commentaries, with Shiri Appleby and Majandra Delfino, provide a brief glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of the Roswell sets, and the actors often spill details from seasons two and three as well. All of the commentaries are well worth the time spent viewing them.

‘Area 51: The Making Of Roswell’ (30 mins) features interviews with all of the principal cast members, executive producer/writer Jason Katims, executive producer/director David Nutter, director Patrick Norris, producer Carol Trussel, and production designer Vincent Jefferds. ‘Roswell High: the Making of Roswell’ (10 mins) features an interview with Melinda Metz and Laura Burns, the creators of the Roswell High book series, who discuss the inspiration for the series and their thoughts on the story’s transition to the small screen.

Roswell will go down in the history books as having one of the most devoted fanbases ever seen for a television show, and this fact is acknowledged by all of the interviewees. In fact, several of them express that they consider this DVD the cast and crew’s “love letter to the fans”. In my humble opinion, it definitely lives up to this designation.

DVD Details:

Price: $59.98
Not Rated
Starring: Jason Behr, Shiri Appleby, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fehr, Majandra Delfino, William Sadler, Colin Hanks, Nick Wechsler
Year made: 1999-2000
Film format/length: 1.78:1 anamorphic / 968 mins (22 episodes)
Audio format: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

DVD Features

* 22 episodes on 6 discs
* Audio commentary for ‘Pilot’ by executive producer/writer Jason Katims and executive producer/director David Nutter
* Audio commentary for ‘Blood Brother’ by executive producer/director David Nutter
* Audio commentary for ‘The Balance’ by executive producer/writer Thania St. John
* Audio commentary for ‘Sexual Healing’ by actors Shiri Appleby and Majandra Delfino
* Audio commentary for ‘Crazy’ by actors Shiri Appleby and Majandra Delfino
* Audio commentary for ‘Destiny’ by executive producer/writer Jason Katims and director Patrick Norris
* ‘Area 51: Behind the Scenes of Roswell’ featurette (30 mins)
* ‘Roswell High: The Making of Roswell’ featurette (10 mins)
* One deleted scene from the pilot episode
* Two audition scenes for the role of Tess
* Sense Field’s ‘Save Yourself’ video (with Shiri Appleby)