Narcos appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The visuals held up fairly well.
Sharpness usually looked appropriate. The series used a mix of archival elements and stylized photographic choices that could lead to some softness, but most of the time, the shows seemed accurate and concise. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or source flaws.
Like focus, colors tended toward stylistic choices. This meant a lot of the usual orange and teal, but other hues mixed in as well, and these seemed fine within the series’ visual decisions. Blacks were pretty dark and tight, and low-light shots displayed reasonable clarity. While not excellent, the visuals appeared positive.
As for the series’ DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it opened up matters in a satisfactory manner. Much of the time, the episodes focused on music and dialogue, but effects broadened circumstances fairly well. Occasional scenes with guns/violence added the most active material, but general atmosphere also fleshed out the spectrum in a positive way.
Audio quality seems more than satisfactory. Speech remained natural and distinctive, while music appeared lively and full. Effects displayed good accuracy and heft. This turned into a solid auditory experience for a TV series.
Three episodes come with audio commentaries. Here’s what we find:
“Descenso”: executive producer/director Jose Padilha and actor Wagner Moura;
“Explosivos”: executive producer Chris Brancato;
“Despegue”: executive producer Eric Newman and director Andi Baiz.
The discussions look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and shooting in Colombia, music, fact vs. fiction, and connected details.
For the most part, the commentaries work well. All give us good information, though all suffer from bouts of dead air as well. Still, we learn a fair amount along the way, so these tracks deserve to be heard.
Disc One opens with ads for Hannibal Season 3, Orange Is the New Black Season 3, Mad Men “Complete Collection” and Sicario.
On Disc Two, we find two featurettes. Establishing the Route goes for 24 minutes, 49 seconds and includes Newman, Brancato, Padilha, Moura, editor Leo Trombetta, composer Pedro Bromfman and actors Paulina Gaitan, Maurice Compte, Joanna Christie, Diego Catano, and Boyd Holbrook.
The program covers the series’ origins/development and working with Netflix, casting, characters and performances, fact vs. fiction, visual choices and influences, editing and structure in the age of “binge watching”, music and pushing toward Season Two. “Route” offers a pretty good overview of production areas, especially the way the Netflix distribution model – which released all 10 episodes on the same day - affects the series. It becomes a positive program.
The Colombian Connection lasts 11 minutes, 41 seconds and features Brancato, Newman, Padilha, Moura, Holbrook, Compte, Gaitan, Christie, associate producer Jesse Moore, production designer Diana Trujillo, co-executive producer Andres Calderon, and actors Stephanie Sigman and Alberto Ammann. This piece examines shooting in Colombia and various locations, story/character elements, and related domains. “Connection” expands on the first featurette to give us useful material about working in South America.
Disc Three provides another featurette. The Language Barrier runs 11 minutes, 40 seconds and offers info from Newman, Brancato, Padilha, Moura, Catano, Holbrook, Gaitan, Christie, Trombetta, Moore, and Sigman. The piece looks at the series’ use of language and its impact on the actors and crew. “Barrier” provides an interesting view of the subject matter.
Seven Deleted Scenes take up a total of seven minutes, 23 seconds. In an annoying choice, the disc presents these as one running reel that fails to identify from which episode each clip comes. Is it that hard to add a title card to provide some perspective?
As for the scenes themselves, they offer minor additions. We get a little more exposition – mainly behind the scenes with the US ambassador – as well as some character bits. These can be interesting but not important.
Through its 10 episodes, Season One of Narcos provides a largely compelling take on factual events. It spins these in a fictionalized manner and it creates a good new take on the drug wars. The Blu-rays offer positive picture and audio along with average bonus materials. Narcos delivers a satisfying series.