The Sinner: Season One - DVD Review

Michael Scott

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The Sinner: Season One


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :halfstar:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Anthology series are nothing new, but they have gained a sort of “comeback” with series like True Detective, American Horror Story and Black Mirror gaining popularity over the years. The fact that they’re ALL in the mystery/horror sub genre is nothing new either, as that particular bent seems to be the brunt of the anthology viewer base. So color me VERY intrigued to see a series starring Jessica Biel (pretty much the epitome of my early 20’s crush) and Bill Pullman (one of my favorite 90s actors) coming together for a horror/mystery series like the above mentioned, but on the USA network instead of the more common Netlfix and HBO venues. Well, The Sinner: Season One isn’t as amazing as True Detective, or as gruesome and twisted as the overly bloated American Horror Story, but it is a great piece of TV anthology viewing, with a crisp story line that goes well with the 8 episodes allotted for the first season.

The premise of the series is pretty simple. We’re taunted with the trailer of a woman murdering a man on the beach, and the show doesn’t waste any time and jumps right in the deep end. Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) is a mild mannered, if not slightly nervous) woman who just randomly jumps up in front of her husband and 4 year old child, and stabs a man on the beach without any provocation. After the fact Cora is horrified at what she’s done, but also has no recollection of WHY she did what she did, and has no knowledge of WHO the person was she just killed! So the question turns to WHY (not who) is the cause of this murder, and detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) is pulled into a web of mystery and deceit as he tries to ascertain this important little question.

The Sinner is based off of a novel by German writer, Petra Hammesfahr, and follows the same winding patter as the book (for the most part). The show is very languidly paced, with that sort of “small town” vibe that Twin Peaks started out with, making the whole gravity of the situation that much more intense. The story feels very much like the “evil woman snapping” stories that we’ve been privy to over the years, with Cora gaining the attention and eyes of everyone around her in the tight night community. But also the ability to turn all of that on its ear if Harry Ambrose can get to the bottom of the situation. The recurring flashback/vision/dream that Cora has of the yellow wall is something to take note of, as it acts as one of the biggest surreal clues to the whole thing.
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What makes these anthology series is much more than just a snappy plot. It’s all about characters and unfolding backstories. Cora seems like the sweet and innocent character at first, but that is turned upside when she initially murders the stranger on the beach, but she is actually a lost soul, floating around in this world with a lot of pain in her past. Harry acts as the perfect support for her, as the straightforward detective is ALSO a lost soul underneath his calm exterior. He’s wallowing around with booze, a failing marriage, and turning to a bartender for his own type of therapeutic humiliation. It’s as if they both see the lost/failing parts of each other and this gives the detective the motivation to find out WHY the murder happened, instead of just condemning her and going on to the next case.

The Sinner doesn’t meander or wander around too much, but gets straight to the point by throwing us in the deep end during the first few minutes of the first episode. The story is a bit languid and slow paced at times, but the 8 episode arc keeps it from becoming too bloated. The story is incredibly well done, and the performances are absolutely incredible. I always loved Bill Pullman, but he has been given the proverbial shaft in his recent acting career, while Biel has all but fallen off the map since she married Justin Timberlake. Both of them pull out truly incredible performances that resonate well with the material at hand, and had my jaw hanging to the floor by the time the season ends.



Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :4stars:
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The 1.78:1 framed show is given 4 episodes each on 2 DVD-9 discs, and the series looks quite pleasing for only being in 480p. The series shifts between a fairly neutral looking color grading, to showing hints of amber and dark teal depending on the location. Fine detail is more than adequate across the board, showing off every fiber and pore of the actor’s clothing and facial details, while showing only minor banding and black crush in the bars and other dark corners of the show. I noticed a flicker of macroblocking here and there, but other than those small anomalies, the 2 discs are more than capable of showing off a very pleasing TV image for us to enjoy.







Audio: :4stars:
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Like most of these dramatic shows, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track (in both English and French) is more than capable, but also not intended to be powerhouse action mixes. The dialog is the mainstay of the show, with a good majority of the weight lying up front in the center channel. The mains take care of a lot of the ambient noises as Cora and Harry figure out what is going on, but there are little blips of activity that add surround usage (usually the hustle and bustle of a city street, or a the crashing of a car in the background) and boost the LFE usage a bit. It’s a very nice track, with clean, precise dialog and just enough imaging in the front speakers to make it interesting.






Extras: :halfstar:
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Deleted Scenes











Final Score: :4stars:


The Sinner is one of those anthology series like True Detective, where if we have a second season it is going to be pretty much a new cast (or almost completely new), and the show is much better by not having us rely on dragging things out with recurring actors. The performances are actually quite impressive, coming from a pair of actors that I initially thought would sink the season. The show is short, to the point, and the technical specs make for a great DVD package. Sadly no Blu-ray release, but it is what it is with modern TV home video releases. My only frustration is that the extras are relegated to some deleted scenes and nothing else, but don’t let this stop you from a great story. Definitely recommended for a good watch.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman, Christopher Abbott
Created by: Dereck Simonds
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French
Studio: Universal
Rated: NR
Runtime: 339 Minutes
DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2018







Recommendation: Good Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Never heard of this series but will check it out.
 

Asere

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Thanks for the review. You know I did a season pass on my dvr for this show but never got around to watching it because I've been so busy and also because there is just too much to watch out there. It does look interesting.
 

Michael Scott

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it came out of nowhere for me. I really enjoyed it a lot. Wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was.
 

tripplej

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Just to update. I started watching this on netflix. So far so good. I like it.
 

tripplej

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I finished the series. I liked it and I must say the main actors were great in this series.
 
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