Paramount // 2009 // 226 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // October 8th, 2009
4 out-of-this-world favorites.
When I reviewed Beyond the Ordinary's sister set, TV Sets: Crime and Punishment, I came away pleasantly surprised. My joy came not from Paramount's intentions for the set, but rather for the fascinating overview it gave of the cop genre. Thanks to a strangely eclectic group of shows, Beyond the Ordinary has given me no such pleasure. Like the other set, it includes four television pilots ranging from the 1960s to the present decade:
* Star Trek: The Original Series (1966)
The earliest series from this set is one that needs no introduction for most viewers. My suspicion is that most serious fans already owns the DVD box sets, and this will hardly win any new converts. That said, the included episode (The Man Trap, for those keeping track) is the most recent remastering of the old series and looks pretty nice.
* Joan of Arcadia (2003)
In the pilot for Joan of Arcadia, a girl named Joan (Amber Tamblyn, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) meets a person who claims to be God, and gives her instructions to follow. Not even really being a believer, Joan initially rejects this claim. Things start to play out accordingly, though, and she starts questioning her own lack of faith.
* The 4400 (2004)
All confusion breaks loose when a comet arrives, carrying 4400 missing persons back to earth. Of course, the U.S. government immediately puts them into a concentration camp, of sorts, but realizes that they won't be able to hold citizens and international fugitives forever. Strangely, none of them seem to know the biblical significance of the number.
* Medium (2005)
In the most recent show of the bunch, Patricia Arquette (Bringing Out the Dead) is a frustrated psychic who wants to get a job as a lawyer, and refuses to acknowledge the power of her gifts. When her husband convinces her to follow up on some of the strangely realistic dreams she has, she ends up embroiled in a murder investigation in Texas. Perhaps she could find a way to utilize these skills for law enforcement...
The decision to put these four television shows into a single disc is completely ridiculous. There's one classic sci-fi space opera, one alien conspiracy show, one Christian-friendly family drama, and a heavy-handed attempt to combine CSI with the occult. This is not an attempt to attack any of the shows individually, but it's hard to imagine any one viewer that will be drawn to all four shows.
Of course, the collection is really just an attempt for Paramount to get customers to shell out for some season box sets. They didn't need to try to hold the four together thematically, and they only need any viewer to really like one of the shows. My big concern, though, is that they actually want $15 for what should be a free promo disc.
As expected, the transfer of all four episodes are quite strong. All three newer shows are delivered in anamorphic widescreen, and look quite good. As I mentioned earlier, this is the most recent master of Star Trek as well, though doesn't seem to have the new effects as seen on the Blu-Ray disc. Still, it looks pretty good. The same can be said for the sound, which ranges from stereo to 5.1 surround. There are no special features on the disc.
Should you pick Beyond the Ordinary up? I would say no, unless you are really curious about all four shows and are picky about your television. Otherwise, there are much more efficient and cheap ways to investigate these shows. Stay away.
Review content copyright © 2009 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 226 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb: Joan of Arcadia
* IMDb: Star Trek
* IMDb: The 4400
* IMDb: Medium