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Alec Berg, Bill Hader
Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg
Writing Credits:

A hit man from the Midwest moves to Los Angeles and gets caught up in the city's theatre arts scene.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 238 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/2/2018

• “The World of Barry” Featurette
• “Inside the Episode” Featurettes


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Barry: The Complete First Season (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 10, 2018)

With HBO’s Barry, we get a comedy with a dark edge. This DVD includes all of Season One’s eight episodes. The plot synopses come straight from the series’ website.

Make Your Mark: “Midwestern contract killer Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) gets hit with the acting bug while on a job in LA.”

That’s a tremendously “high concept” idea for a series, but if “Mark” acts as an indicator, Barry can make it work. The episode mixes black comedy with laconic mockery to launch the show well.

Use It: “Cousineau (Henry Winkler) tells the class Ryan Madison (Tyler Jacob Moore) is dead and implores them to use their pain in their acting. Sally (Sarah Goldberg) convinces the group to hold a memorial scene night for Ryan, but Barry is distracted by a text from Fuches (Stephen Root). The Chechens want the two of them dead.”

The laughs keep coming with the solid “Use It”. The addition of various police investigators brings a good twist and the plots deepen in a satisfying manner to make this another fine episode.

Make the Unsafe Choice: “Barry fulfills an obligation, and comforts Sally after an audition gone awry. The Chechens welcome a hitman legend (Larry Hankin).”

With “Choice”, Barry fires on all cylinders. It accelerates various character and narrative elements while it also provides fine comedy to boot. This turns into the best episode to date.

Commit… to YOU: “Barry finds that extricating himself from Fuches and winning Sally's affections is more difficult than he thought.”

“Commit” goes a little more dramatic than usual, mainly as Barry deals with disappointments. We still find plenty of comedy – especially via Gene’s “date” with Detective Moss (Paula Newsome) - and “Commit” advances S1 in a satisfying manner.

Do Your Job: “Barry looks to hit the reset button with Sally, but a scene from Macbeth triggers a reaction that pushes them farther apart.”

As S1 progresses, it manages to feel more dramatic, probably a factor in Hader’s Emmy win. While I kind of miss the more overt comedy that carried “Choice”, I can’t really complain with the result, and “Job” manages to become another solid show that moves things along well.

Listen With Your Ears, React With Your Face: “Barry tries to fly solo at a remote airstrip, but Taylor (Dale Pavinski) still wants in.”

For a show about a serial killer, Barry largely avoided violence – until now, as “Ears” brings a heavier action orientation than usual. It mixes the same form of drama and comedy seen in recent shows to bring a good exploration of its topics.

Loud, Fast and Keep Going: “A deadly shootout threatens Barry's timely participation in Sally's big stage moment.”

As noted, Barry became darker and more somber as it went, but it also continued to find ways to toss out solid comedic moments. The manner in which it balances the two works very well, and Barry’s descent into his inner world adds depth to this show.

Know Your Truth: “Barry vows to give up his life of crime. Moss closes in on an arrest.”

As expected, “Truth” wraps up S1 in a satisfying manner. Along with effective drama, it accentuates comedy better than any episode in a while, and it ties up the overall season narrative nicely.

And we got a good season. Barry presents a potentially “wacky” concept in a way that doesn’t shoot for cheap, easy laughs. It develops characters and becomes an engaging experience.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Barry appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. HBO crammed four hours of episodes plus more than 20 minutes of bonus features onto one disc, and that harmed picture quality.

Sharpness turned into a consistent issue. At best, closeups provided passable delineation, but all other shots came across as mushy and soft.

Sporadic examples of jagged edges and moiré effects appeared, and edfe haloes popped up through the series. No source flaws marred the proceedings.

Colors looked black. The series went for a fairly standard orange and teal sensibility, but the disc failed to make these hues look positive, so they remained dull.

Blacks were mushy, and shadows tended to be opaque. The shows persistently looked bad.

Though generally low-key, at least the series Dolby 5.1 soundtrack fared better than the visuals, as the soundscape opened up matters in a reasonable manner. General environmental material filled the five channels in a subdued but moderately involved manner, and the occasional action scene brought more punch to the proceedings.

Audio quality was fine, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music seemed vivid and full, at least within the show’s restrained presentation.

Effects followed suit, as those elements appeared fairly accurate and dynamic, with positive low-end as necessary. Nothing here excelled, but the audio suited the series.

In terms of extras, we find a featurette called The World of Barry. It runs three minutes, 41 seconds and offers notes from executive producer Alec Berg and actors Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root and Sarah Goldberg. It’s just promotional fluff.

Under Inside the Episode, we get 10 segments with a total running time of 18 minutes, 29 seconds. Across these, we hear from Berg and actor/writer/director Bill Hader.

They offer insights about characters and story as well as production elements. These segments lack real depth but they add some enjoyable thoughts.

Barry easily could’ve gone for nothing more than wacky comedy based on its “high concept” theme, but the show manages to dig more deeply than that. An excellent mix of laughs and drama, the series works well. The DVDs provide problematic visuals along with generally positive audio and some minor supplements. Barry becomes a solid series.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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