Blu-ray TV Reviews: ‘Primal’ and ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’

Here’s a look at a couple of animated episode shows now available on Blu-ray.

Primal: The Complete First Season (Rating: TV-MA, 2.39: 1 aspect ratio, 220 minutes, $ 27.98) – Known for a varied career in which he introduced the world to boy genius Dexter and Samurai Jack, Genndy Tartokovsky returned with a new series on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim that takes viewers back to a fictional prehistoric time period when man and dinosaur coexisted.

Arguably one of his most creative work to date, all 10 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning inaugural season are now on a pair of Blu-ray discs.

The adventure finds caveman Spear (Aaron LaPlante) initially inconsolable after seeing the death of his wife and daughters, consumed by a herd of horned tyrannosaurs.

After seeing a similar fate while helping a female Tyrannosaurus named Fang unsuccessfully protect her young from the same pack, he finds a common bond and befriends the beast in the purest pack-mentality possible.

Together, they attempt to survive in hostile lands laden with creatures such as Argentinosaurus, Titanoboa snakes, dromaeosaurs, Anchiceratops, pliosaurs, as well as ape-men and witches in openly brutal, blood-filled life and death struggles that unfold in almost all cases. . episode.

With environmental backgrounds one might find in a Moebius painting, character design slanted to the legends of comic book artists Frank Miller, Tayyar Ozkan, and Frank Frazetta, and a level of neon-red bloodshed and violence one might find in a “Heavy Metal” movie, each episode is a visual marvel that requires multiple views, if viewers can take the blood.

Equally impressive are the primal, often simple, emotional stories that unfold without any dialogue in each episode. Simply seeing the characters’ eyes and facial expressions and hearing their screams of anger and anguish leads viewers into the complexities of “Primal.”

The varied episodes can be heartbreaking (to the point of not being able to see them), such as the couple’s encounter with a sick woolly mammoth or just a thrilling roller coaster ride as they battle a herd of giant bats and a large spider.

Suffice it to report, for those with a stomach, that Tartokovsky’s fantasy horror series never disappoints, as the episodes delight in giving birth to some of the most powerful creatures on earth as they fight unapologetically and viscerally for existence. .

Best extras: For a show of such marvelous magnitude, viewers only get a 10-minute production feature film that barely scratches the surface of the series with words from Mr. Tartokovsky, director Scott Wills, and some of the artists from animation house Studio La. Cachette that offer depth to the segment too much, too short.

Viewers deserve better, Warner Bros. How about some optional commentary tracks (even if they’re socially estranged), a deeper look at animation style, or a tribute to the man behind the magic? It seems quite reasonable to me that viewers spend roughly $ 30 for the set.

Star Trek: Bottom Deck, Season 1 (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, unrated, 1.78: 1 aspect ratio, 251 minutes, $ 31.99) – The animated and humorous version of “Rick and Morty” student Mike McMahan of Gene Roddenberry’s beloved sci-fi universe, which was originally on the CBS All Access streaming service, now arrives in high definition format.

Compiling all 10 episodes of the inaugural season onto a pair of Blu-ray discs, the collection features the crew of the decidedly average Federation starship, the USS Cerritos, as they roam the galaxy dealing with some more than average missions.

Set in the “Next Generation” time period, the show primarily focuses on the often-forgotten members of a starship who take on the daily work, specifically Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid from “The Boys”), Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), part cyborg Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Orion D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells).

They spend time doing important but boring tasks like balancing a phase shift in the brig, making sure the food module produces yellow bananas, and lubricating the turbolift while occasionally getting sucked into the more intense adventures with the captain. of the ship, Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis). ; First Officer Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell); Bajoran tactical officer, Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore); and Caitian’s doctor, T’Ana (Gillian Vigman).

Geeky writers often feel compelled to dazzle viewers with their love for Trek canon and lore, overwhelming with sometimes dark references, such as the appearance of a salt vampire (first seen in the original episode of “Star Trek”, “Man Trap”) while reintroducing species. like the Vulcans, Romulans, Ferengi, Vendorians, Klingons, Gorns, Borg, Cardassians and Endosians and name Deep Space 9, Khan, Picard, Kirk and Spock.

Of course, some real guest stars (voiced by the original actors) also slip in. A well-known couple in the franchise do not disappoint and appear easily in the best episode and finale of the season “No Small Parts.”

As this is a comedy, the style of humor is to shout early and often in a frantic tone and expect a laugh. That tension is always present with the exploits of “according to the book” that Boimler gets stuck working with the instigator of mayhem Mariner, who also happens to be the daughter of the serious Captain Freeman, leading to another level of dynamic friction.

Also, in the less cerebral “Rick and Morty” styles, we get a lot of physical humor, second, highlighted by a naked Boimler being suckled by a spider creature on the planet Galardonians in the episode “Second Contact.”

While “Lower Decks” has its moments, the problem ultimately is whether the creators can create a “Star Trek” series worthy of its predecessors, as well as boldly take Trekkies where no series has gone before.

Viewers saw hints of the shocking possibilities at the end of the season, but hopefully the second and third seasons will cement the deal with fans.

Best extras: Each episode offers a complimentary feature called “Lower Decktionary” that covers the show’s production and some of the history of the “Star Trek” franchise.

Each averaging approximately six minutes each, the topics of the covered segments include the origins of the series, the main characters and species, the animation process; visual style; and the Holodeck.

Talking leaders include McMahan, co-producer Brad Winters, director Kim Arndt, art director Antonio Canobbio, lead composer Alex King, composer Chris Westlake, supervising director Juno Lee, animation director Alexandre Pelletier, the editor Todd Raleigh and most of the cast.

Viewers below get a more in-depth 24-minute look at the eight main characters, their origins, and the voice actors who portray them.

Finally, an eight-minute article reveals some of the many, many “Star Trek” pop culture Easter eggs that appear on the shows, such as the smart computer Landru (original series, “Return of the Archons”); or a glavin glove (“Next Generation” episode “Code of Honor”); or the Spock Helmet (a real toy from Enco’s 1976).

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