Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season – Blu-ray Review
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Title: Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season
Release Date: 2021
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 590 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.78:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
– Amazon Commissions Earned –
Blu-ray Release Date: 2/16/21
Creator (Developed By & Showrunner): Misha Green
Executive Produced By: J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele
Cast: Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Abbey Lee, Jada Harris, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jordan Patrick Smith, Courtney B. Vance, Jamie Neumann
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Show | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Lovecraft Country” was a 2020 TV show that aired, in its first complete season, on HBO. The show was created by Misha Green, who serves as one of the lead writers and is one of the executive producers. Green is best known for co-creating the TV series “Underground” (2016-2017) where she also served as an executive producer and worked as one of the lead writers. She also served as a producer and worked as a writer on a few episodes for the TV series “Helix” (2014-2015), and she also worked as a staff writer on a total of 13 episodes, back in 2009, for the TV series “Sons of Anarchy” (2008-2014).
This show, Lovecraft Country, in its first season, is executive produced by J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele. Both of these filmmakers with their previous works have proved that they understand how to handle drama, science fiction, and a bit of horror, as well as those blended with history. This show is unique but a perfect match for those two men to serve as executive producers on a TV series such as it.
Things here for the story to the show, take place primarily during the Jim Crow era of the 1950s in (the United States of) America. We through not only our primary protagonist but the show’s entire cast of characters are shown the struggles and also the hatred that was going around undisguised back in these times. Racism during this time period was a very disgusting thing and continues to be (sadly) to this very day, and this is to serve as a reminder of how things were and it also uses some of the science fiction and horror-like elements of H.P. Lovecraft novels (stories) along the way.
The main protagonist of the first season of this show is a twenty-something African-American man named “Atticus Freeman” (Jonathan Majors). Atticus, at this point, had just recently come back and served in the military during the Korean war. He comes back to his hometown looking for his father and along the way he first reconnects with his uncle “George Freeman” (Courtney B. Vance). The uncle and his nephew discuss some things Atticus has been told and then some knowledge that George has, and they learn that his father might be in a certain location.
But, before they set off on a journey to find his father, Atticus manages to reconnect with an old friend “Letitia Lewis” (Jurnee Smollett). Letitia, we also get to know a bit about and are introduced to her half-sister “Ruby Baptiste” (Wunmi Mosaku) who happens to be very talented as a singer. Then, there’s uncle George’s wife “Hippolyta Freeman” (Aunjanue Ellis) who happens to be talented in the fields of astronomy and science as well as her young teenage daughter “Diana Freeman” (Jada Harris). Diana is also very talented but with her art skills and likes to draw comic books about science fiction stories. In fact, the whole Freeman family loves their share of books and that’s something that I think is very important here — for a show with the name of a famous Sci-Fi author in the title.
This whole family will come across some very strange adventures over the course of the first season of this show, and we’ll meet some strange but what will become familiar faces along the way via the likes of characters such as “Christina Braithwhite” (Abbey Lee), “William” (Jordan Patrick Smith), “Dell” (Jamie Neumann), and even a Korean teenager named “Ji-Ah” (Jamie Chung).
Lastly, there’s no “spoiler” here intended, or I think given, by saying that Atticus and his uncle George manage to find his father. That being said, his father is named “Montrose Freeman” (Michael Kenneth Williams) and will play a large part in this season of the show.
This first season of Lovecraft Country includes the following 10 episodes with my rating for each listed after the episode title below:
- Episode 1 – “Sundown” – 4.25 / 5
- Episode 2 – “Whitey’s On the Moon” – 4.25 / 5
- Episode 3 – “Holy Ghost” – 3.75 / 5
- Episode 4 – “A History of Violence” – 4.25 / 5
- Episode 5 – “Strange Case” – 4.25 / 5
- Episode 6 – “Meet Me in Daegu” – 4.5 / 5
- Episode 7 – “I Am.” – 3.75 / 5
- Episode 8 – “Jig-A-Bobo” – 4.5 / 5
- Episode 9 – “Rewind 1921” – 4.5 / 5
- Episode 10 – “Full Circle” – 3.5 / 5
So, based on those ratings I’ve come up with my average overall rating listed below for the show, in its first season. The first episode of the show really had me excited in ways, I cannot lie I didn’t quite get as much as I had expected for it or the second episode. The third episode just really felt like some sort of strange not all-related type of departure from what I felt the show was going to be as a whole, as a series. That was the first episode that really focused on anyone else than Atticus as the lead with Letitia getting her own story. I like the character but I just couldn’t dig that episode. Next, for the fourth episode of the show, you have the story starting to really be going a lot of different directions and that’s something that goes on into the fifth episode as well with a bit of an unexpected side departure in how big of a role a character will play and how they do.
The sixth episode of this show is the strangest, in my opinion, and I mean that as a compliment and not as a complaint. I found it to be unique and enjoyable and like a breath of fresh air of sorts in a change-up from the 1950s Jim Crow era for 1949 in Korea with a different protagonist entirely for the episode. It ends up connecting to this show and one of the characters, so it’s not totally just out there, but it’s unique and is truly one of the episodes that felt cool about this first season. Then, when things seem to have already turned a bit strange they take a turn for another unrelated departure with another story based on one of the female protagonists in one very “far out” situation. I get the episode and what it meant and stood for, it’s just that I didn’t feel it feel as much like something that every viewer would be able to comprehend nor did I really enjoy it that much as the other episodes.
Things take a massive turn for the better, and I mean that literally as the two episodes here are the best, in my opinion, of the first season of this series. With episode 8 you will get creeped the hell out by a very, very, disturbing almost straight-up horror genre change, with the youngest of the show’s female characters playing as protagonist. Episode 9 brings us one of those episodes that, as you can tell by its title involves time travel (of sorts) back to 1921 during a very historic and disturbing moment of time previously discussed throughout the show by a certain character.
For the tenth, and final episode, that served as the season finale you get something that felt like maybe it was going to work but just ended up leaving you a tad bit unfulfilled and perhaps upset at the outcome. All and all, in its first season as a show, Lovecraft Country felt like it had some fun moments along the way, with a couple of episodes I admittedly (as well as fans) just did not like. The biggest thing that felt to be lacking here to me was the H.P. Lovecraft side of things, other than the opening bit of the first episode and some discussion of things in that episode as well as the second episode. Still, the show managed to do what it set out to do it’s just that I’m not sure how I feel about the end. More on that in the closing.
Show Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season” on Blu-ray Disc is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown on HBO, and obviously intended. The show, in its first season, was shot digitally on two different cameras, the Arri Alexa LF for the first episode and the Sony Venice for episode 2 and on out for this season. The show received a 4K DI (digital intermediate) master and comes from a resolution, although not defined on IMDb or such that feels to be around or above 4K. So, with that being said, as you’d imagine it makes for a nice 1080p HD presentation coming from a higher digital master.
However, there are some issues with the choice of using one of these cameras that I feel to be worth mentioning right off of the bat (so-to-speak) here in the video section. There’s this flaw that seems to be digital compression found on the capture methods that the Sony Venice camera was using here as things start to have this issue after the first episode when they started using that particular camera. It may not actually at all be the camera’s fault here, as I’ve seen it have some impressive material on other projects. My guess is that they had some problems getting used to the lighting that the Sony Venice camera required in comparison to what they were using on the first episode.
Okay, with that out of the way, I feel I can continue, but do know I am going to be reducing the overall rating for video quality here based on this flaw as it becomes pretty bothersome in short scenes. I don’t usually ever talk about my assessment of the video quality this early on into the section, but since this seems to be camera-related I felt it should be mentioned here.
Next, let me get even more technical here, for a bit, in regards to the three Blu-ray Discs themselves in this 3-disc set. This release is using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) for each disc, with Disc 1 using 38.72 gigabytes total, Disc 2 uses 43.61GB total, and Disc 3 using 44.22GB total.
The show really looks impressive here, coming from what I feel to be something like a 4.5K or so digital source and the 4K DI (master) really helps to make this 1080p HD presentation feel sharp. There’s a tremendous amount of detail to be found here in every single scene all throughout the course of the show’s first 10 episodes of season 1. There’s overall a very impressive visual presentation here, in HD, with great cinematography. Also, there are almost all of the things you’d come to expect such as a solid black level, accurate flesh tones, and for the most part, the presentation looks great.
There’s one really tiny flaw here that I found to be present really from the second episode, after they switched to a different camera, on out. It seems that the camera and perhaps the lighting didn’t come together quite as well as in the first episode when another camera was used. The flaw is that during scenes that the primary subject matter is in full focus that the person (or perhaps object) in the background will be blurred out of focus into a series of shades of pixelation, in what is called “color banding” by most. In fact, you can see some actual screenshot examples of this color banding problem via some links. For most of these, you’ll want to either look at the right side (entirely) or the bottom lower right corner, or in the last instance at both the right and left sides. HERE is an example of the color banding in, HERE is another example, and this last one is pretty apparent HERE as an example of the flaw.
I need to state that this color banding issue only comes up for some very brief moments, but it’s very obvious and there’s really no way to ignore it. In fact, in all due honesty, it becomes distracting. Still, it’s nothing that I have decided to deduct from the overall rating for the video quality for this flaw, as I don’t think it’s the Blu-ray — if at all — compression causing it. I actually think that this banding was caused by the digital form of capture method the camera was using or perhaps was done in post-production? Regardless, all and all, “Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season” on Blu-ray earns itself a very impressive and respectable 4.75 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot
Audio on the Blu-ray Disc release of “Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround sound. This comes as an obvious improvement over the AC3 compressed audio that you’ve most likely heard this show in on the HBO TV broadcasts, On-Demand viewings, or via HBOmax streaming. You’ll start to really notice the differences between this lossless audio mix and what you may have heard before very early on.
First off, the dialogue is delivered very distinctly via the center channel speaker in this 5.1 lossless mix. I never once had any problems distinguishing what I had just heard or ever felt the need to make a volume adjustment based on that.
There’s an abundance here of LFE to be felt through the subwoofer all throughout the show, from the early parts of the first episode up until the very last moments of the last episode of this season. There’s also an excellent amount of rear channel use to be found on each and every episode, all throughout, for sound effects and the show’s original music, as well as the modern songs, picked for the soundtrack. In fact, the modern hip-hop and R&B used here for the soundtrack to the show can really leave you with some low-end bass that will get your attention right quick and comes across as very effective.
The show has some really cool moments where the sound effects and music in combination really come with a slight bit of oomph that left me impressed, all delivered nicely across the 5.1 surround sound field. The rear channel presence felt as effective as I would want it to be and the subwoofer managed to leave the room vibrating (a bit more than usual) on a few occasions from the action that the season had to offer. All and all, this is a damn impressive lossless 5.1 mix and certainly (as mentioned) proves to be an improvement over the original broadcasts of the show or streams. It earns itself a 4.75 rating for audio quality and does this TV series definite justice in terms of sound.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot
A Digital Copy of the film (in 1080p HD with 5.1 sound) is included via a paper insert which you can redeem on the Vudu video streaming service.
Bonus materials, on this release, are all presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
The bonus materials are ALL on the third Blu-ray Disc, in this set, and include:
- “Orithyia and the Imagination of Diana Freeman“ (11 minutes, 20 seconds – HD) features clips from the show in between interviews with Misha Green (executive producer & showrunner), Afua Richardson (comic book artist), Jada Harris (Diana Freeman), Aunjanue Ellis (Hippolyta Freeman), and JP Jones (property master).
- “Lovecraft Country: Compendium of Horrors” (12 minutes, 26 seconds – HD) features clips from the show, some glimpses behind the scenes, and on-set footage, in between interviews with Misha Green (executive producer & showrunner), Matt Ruff (novelist/executive consultant), Jonathan Majors (Atticus Freeman), Jerad Marantz (creature designer), Jurnee Smollett (Letitia Lewis), Courtney B. Vance (George Freeman), Bill Carrara (executive producer), Robert McLachlan (director of photography), Terry Notary (movement choreographer), Kevin Blank (visual effects supervisor), and Wunmi Mosaku (Ruby Baptiste).
- “Crafting Lovecraft Country“ (28 minutes, 14 seconds – HD) is a full-length HBO Special that originally aired on the channel. This includes clips from the show, on-set footage, facts about the historical references, glimpses behind the scenes, and interviews with Courtney B. Vance (George Freeman), Misha Green (executive producer & showrunner), Matt Ruff (author “Lovecraft Country”), Bill Carrara (executive producer), Jurnee Smollett (Letitia Lewis), Jonathan Majors (Atticus Freeman), Aunjanue Ellis (Hippolyta Freeman), Abbey Lee (Christina Braithwhite), Kalimantan Ivanov (production designer), Dayna Pink (costume designer), Michael Kenneth Williams (Montrose Freeman), Maria T. Bierniak (supervising location manager), Michael Watson (director of photography), Robert McLachlan (director of photography), Jerad Marantz (creature designer), Terry Notary (movement choreographer), and Summer Eubanks (set decorator). There are also some references explained and shown here to previous films such as “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “The Goonies” (1985), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989). This is very fun to watch, but make sure it’s after you’ve finished the show first — as this contains a lot of major spoilers all throughout.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country“ (HD) is split up into eight parts.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Aunjanue Ellis” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actress who plays Hippolyta Freeman on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Abbey Lee” (1 minute – HD) has an interview with the actress who plays Christina Braithwhite on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Courtney B. Vance” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actor who plays uncle George Freeman on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Jada Harris” (1 minute, 1 second – HD) has an interview with the actress who plays Diana Freeman on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Jonathan Majors” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actor who plays Atticus Freeman on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Jurnee Smollett” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actress who plays Letitia Lewis on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Michael Kenneth Williams” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actor who plays Montrose Freeman on the show.
- “Exploring Lovecraft Country: Wunmi Mosaku” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) has an interview with the actress who plays Ruby Baptiste on the show.
- “Lovecraft Country The Craft” (HD) is split up into four parts.
- “Lovecraft Country The Craft: Afua Richardson” (2 minutes, 1 second – HD) is an interview with the comic artist who worked on props featured in the show.
- “Lovecraft Country The Craft: Eric Yamamoto” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) is an interview with a storyboard artist that worked on the show.
- “Lovecraft Country The Craft: Carey Jones” (2 minutes, 1 second – HD) is an interview with the makeup effect supervisor that worked on the show. Technically, his title is SPFX makeup supervisor.
- “Lovecraft Country The Craft: JP Jones” (1 minute, 55 seconds – HD) is an interview with the property master on the series.
Overall the bonus materials here are pretty decent in terms of their length and good in terms of the informative and entertaining sense. Things here total up to just a tiny bit over an hour in terms of extras and you’ll be pleased with what you learn along the way. The addition of a digital copy, only redeemable via the Vudu service is cool but it would have been a whole lot cooler if it worked with Movies Anywhere or at least gave you an option to use another service like AppleTV (iTunes). Sadly, that’s not the case for HBO and most Warner TV show home video releases on Blu-ray. They always seem to want to redeem only on Vudu. I guess there’s some licensing deal or such going on there? Who knows, but I do know the consumer doesn’t like being confined to only getting their digital copy of a season of a TV show on only one platform as an option.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Lovecraft Country” in its first season on HBO, proved to be pretty worthwhile and I admit to enjoying the show all along the way. Sure, I enjoyed some episodes a lot more than others, but that’s very common for me with almost any TV series that I watch. I also have to admit that I originally binge-watched this season as I found it to be that intriguing.
The performances that are given here by the primary cast are just downright unforgettable, especially Jonathan Majors as the main protagonist (“Atticus”), Jurnee Smollett as the secondary protagonist of sorts (“Letitia”), and then all of the supporting characters portrayed by Courtney B. Vance, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Jada Harris. All of those performances from the main family and friends are just excellent. Then you add in the outside characters portrayed by Abbey Lee, Jordan Patrick Smith, Jamie Neumann, and Jamie Chung. Again, great acting and the performances helped to make all of these characters come to life and develop.
As a show, in the first season, I have to say it had some really impressive episodes — as mentioned — starting with the first. The episodes that impressed me the most (noted further above) had not only excellent performances but also some excellent writing and direction. Hell, the whole show had great writing, directing, and performances this season. The only thing I have to say that I didn’t like was how the season ended and I won’t go into why, as to avoid dishing out any sort of “spoiler” about that. Still, this show proved to be enjoyable for me and served as both a form of escapism and education of sorts. That all said, I look forward to seeing the second season of Lovecraft Country hopefully later this year on HBO.
In terms of video quality, this Blu-ray release of the first season of the show is very impressive and there’s no denying that at all. It comes from a 4K digital source and there’s a tremendous amount of detail here, especially in the facial close-ups but sometimes there will be some “color banding” issues along the way in those shots and it becomes a tad bit bothersome over the course of one season. Still, that tiny flaw is something you can overlook (but obviously deduct from the score based on). That said, this delivers an HD presentation that is impressive and in my opinion is an improvement over the HD broadcast and streams of the series found online via HBO (the channel) or HBOmax (the streaming service).
In terms of audio quality, the Blu-ray of the first season offers up a very impressive lossless 5.1 sound mix that proves to be one major improvement over what you heard on HBO or HBOmax. It knocks it up a notch with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for each of the 10 episodes that have some real highlights all throughout. There are some really intense moments throughout the course of this season that you’ll get to hear how impressive the show actually sounds.
The bonus materials here total up to over an hour in run-time and prove to be worthwhile, adding you some really glimpse into how the show was created and such. There are some great interviews here with the cast and crew members that all prove to be worth seeing. It’s a solid set of extras rounded out by a digital copy of the season included via Vudu (only). I just wish they’d have included iTunes (AppleTV) as an option — as I personally prefer that service over Vudu.
All and all, “Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season” on Blu-ray Disc proves to be a nice set with video and audio quality that are both almost equally as impressive, along with a nice set of extras in terms of bonus, along with a digital copy of the first season over on the Vudu service. I have to honestly say that this makes for a recommended release. While this show might not be for everyone, it’s something that I rather enjoyed and that I believe the fans will be very happy to own physically in superior quality to that found in a TV broadcast, On-Demand viewing, or via streaming.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
4 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Recommended Show / Impressive Quality
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