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Edward Berger
Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving
David Nicholls, Edward St. Aubyn

Patrick Melrose moves from a privileged but deeply traumatic childhood in the South of France through severe substance abuse in his twenties in New York and ultimately toward recovery back home in Britain.
Rated TV-MA

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 302 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/18/2019

• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Booklet
• Previews


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Patrick Melrose [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 31, 2019)

Based on the novels by Edward St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose offers a 2018 mini-series. All five episodes appear on these two Blu-ray discs, and the plot synopses come from the series’ official website.

Bad News: “In the grip of his addictions, Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) must fly to New York to collect his father’s (Hugo Weaving) ashes. Over the course of a lost Manhattan weekend, Patrick’s remorseless search for satisfaction, haunted by old acquaintances and insistent inner voices, sends him into a nightmarish spiral, including a disastrous date with the girl of his dreams.”

If “News” provides the template, Melrose will act as a showcase for Cumberbatch. Of course, this shouldn’t shock, as he’s the biggest name involved and he plays the title character, but it’s still a little surprising just how heavily Patrick dominates the first episode.

Cumberbatch gobbles scenery, but he does so with so much aplomb that I don’t mind. “News” really serves to set up the characters, and it does so reasonably well, though we don’t get a ton of depth. Still, it’s an involving show that opens the series on a fairly positive note.

Never Mind: “At the Melrose family’s glorious house in the South of France, young Patrick has the run of the magical grounds. Bravely imaginative and self-sufficient out of necessity, 9-year-old Patrick (Sebastian Maltz) encounters the volatile lives of adults with fear.”

So much for my thought that Melrose would exist as a consistent spotlight for Cumberbatch, as he barely appears in this flashback episode. The framework mostly works, though.

On the negative side, the “domineering father/distant mother” motif seems trite, and some of the show’s dialogue leans toward Basil Exposition territory. Strong performances carry the day, though, and make this a mostly pleasing program.

Some Hope: “Patrick reluctantly agrees to go to his first big social event since recovering. Together with his good friend Johnny Hall (Prasanna Puwanarajah), he attends a glittering party in the English countryside hosted by former hippie Bridget (Holliday Grainger) – now married, titled and miserable – and attended by Princess Margaret (Harriet Walter) as well as a number of Patrick's old flames.”

Back with adult Patrick, we get another glimpse of upper-crust society types behaving badly. Like the prior episode, some of this feels melodramatic, but the show progresses in a way that integrates its events with the previous flashbacks to help advance matters well.

Mother’s Milk: “Patrick is spending the summer at his old family home in France with his wife Mary (Anna Madeley) and their two young sons. When a now-sober Eleanor (Jennifer Jason Leigh) announces her plan to leave the house to a New Age foundation instead of Patrick, he quickly falls off the wagon.”

That seems like a big jump from the prior show, but left unsaid in the synopsis is the fact that “Hope” took place in 1990 and “Milk” goes to 2003, so the shift makes more sense in that context. Although the series skips through eras with abandon, it does so in a natural manner that doesn’t feel abrupt or problematic.

Still, a little smoother connection might’ve benefited “Milk”, as it can feel a bit abrupt in its shift. Nonetheless, it offers some intriguing story and character elements that send us toward the series finale well.

At Last: “Patrick confronts the past on the day of his mother's memorial service. Now truly clean and sober, he attempts to solve the puzzle of his mother’s complicity in his father’s abuse.”

For the last episode, we get a minor jump in time, as “Last” takes place a mere two years after “Milk”. It links pretty directly to “Milk” as well, with a clear connection between the two.

“Last” brings the series full circle as well. Melrose opened with the death of Patrick’s father and concludes with the demise of his mother.

Much of Melrose leans toward melodrama, but the series pulls off these elements in a dry, semi-cynical enough matter that it never devolves into sudsy material. A deep look at abuse and the damage done, “Last” ends the series on a high note.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Patrick Melrose appears in an aspect ratio of 2.00:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. The series’ visuals usually looked quite good.

The shows offered solid clarity. Only a smidgen of softness materialized, so definition was usually positive.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws failed to mar the presentation.

The series opted for a palette with a definite teal tint, and it tossed in an orange orientation at times, too. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine.

Blacks were pretty deep and tight, while shadows appeared positive, with only a little opacity on occasion. Overall, the shows provided appealing visuals.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the episodes but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little series, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary.

This occurred mostly via gentle environmental ambience, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. Occasional street or airplane scenes added the most pep and that was about it. That said, the imaging made sense for the series.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The score was warm and distinctive.

Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Melrose won't be anyone's demo track, but the mix worked well for the series.

On Disc Two, we find a Behind the Scenes Featurette. It runs five minutes, 25 seconds and includes comments from screenwriter David Nicholls, executive producer Rachel Horovitz, director Edward Berger, makeup/hair designer Karen Hartley-Thomas, producer Stephen Smallwood, and actors Holiday Grainger, Benedict Cumberbatch, Pip Torrens, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hugo Weaving.

“Behind” discusses story/characters, cast and performances, the series’ themes/tone, and design choices. This mostly becomes a superficial promo reel.

Disc One opens with ads for Rake and Marcella.

The package also includes a booklet that features interviews with Nicholls, Cumberbatch, Berger, Leigh, Weaving, executive producer Michael Jackson, and actors Anna Madeley and Prasanna Puwanarajah. A surprisingly meaty text, the booklet adds value.

A well-produced mini-series, Patrick Melrose largely overcome a mix of potential negatives. Instead, it provides a deep, insightful effort. The Blu-rays bring very good picture and adequate audio but they lack substantial bonus materials. Melrose ends up as a compelling program.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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