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Copper: Season One Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 440 Mins.
  • Studio: BBC
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $59.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

The BBC has built up a strong reputation over the years for putting on fine costume dramas, and with good reason. From I, Claudius all the way to current phenomenon Downton Abbey, it’s difficult to surmise how anyone could compete or surpass them in the quality and depth of their work in the genre. Which is why it makes perfect sense that, for the U.S. market, the BBC’s North American arm would be on top of the game as well, putting out one of the coolest, most unexpected crime dramas this side of of Justified. Copper, created and produced by Tom Fontana (TV’s Borgia; TV’s Oz) and Will Rokos (TV’s Southland), with Barry Levinson (The Perfect Storm; Donnie Brasco) also on-board as a series executive producer, was already off to a good start with those names alone. It’s the series’ sui generis style of crime-drama that makes it so riveting.

The story is set in the infamous Five Points slums of New York city in 1864, the Civil War raging, and just after the bloody draft riots in the city by Irish immigrants that saw terrible violence perpetrated against the black population. It follows gritty Irish Metropolitan Police Detective Kevin “Corky” Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones; TV’s World Without End) (the slang term “copper” or its diminutive “cop” is actually a reference to the copper badges New York City policeman wore at the time) as he navigates his way through the run down, crime-infested part of the city and its hoi polloi, while searching for his dead daughter’s killer, his missing wife, and also engages with the elite socialites of the Upper West Side and their politically and morally corrupt ways.

The series fantastically sheds light on the entire era, from the police procedures (or lack thereof) of the day, to the race tensions in the North. One of Corcoran’s most trusted allies is a black doctor, Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), whom he relies on, secretly, as a forensic investigator to solve cases. The implication being that, if anyone (read: his white superiors) found out that his findings were from a black doctor, they would completely disregard the evidence before their eyes. Throughout the series, Corcoran is faced with a multitude of moral dilemmas and the writers never venture to make him seem incorruptible. In many ways, Corcoran can at times seem like an anti-hero, on the verge of doing something terrible at a moment’s notice, but always at least striving to do right in a world so corrupt.

To the BBC’s strengths, the series’ set design is meticulous, realistic, and beautifully designed. The series transports viewers back to the turbulent Civil War-era days of the Big Apple; the days of robber barons, Tammany Hall, rugged cops, “Johnny Rebels,” and dirt roads. You can almost smell the sewage in lower Manhattan, and feel the intensity of a nation at war with itself.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Copper was produced in high definition on the Arri Alexa and comes to Blu-ray in a progressive, 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from the BBC. Like a lot of the well made, HD productions these days, Copper has a very cinematic, almost film-like appearance. At times the video noise could almost pass for natural grain. The image is strong, clean, richly detailed in the darker areas and crisp during the bright scenes. Only some slight digital anomalies such as posterization can be spotted on occasion, but they do not harm the overall presentation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

This is yet another disappointing lossy audio mix from the BBC. Offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, were it not for the use of the lossy audio codec, the sound would have been a very good mix, offering really good balance and lots of atmospherics that capture the din of mid-19th century New York City nicely. The creaking of wooden floors, galloping of horses, sound of hearths stoking all engulf the listener. Sadly, they lack the clarity, natural range and trail-offs, and smoothness of the lossless codecs. Even the dialogue, though clean and intelligible, doesn’t sound quite right. The opening theme music definitely sounds poorly in comparison to the openings of series that use lossless codecs on disc. Even the BBC’s own Doctor Who: Series Seven Pt. 1, which I previously reviewed here, sound better, despite using a lossy codec. The difference being Doctor Who used the high bitrate DTS-HD High Resolution codec which, is of a higher caliber.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Select episode commentaries from the cast are included, plus a few featurettes, deleted scenes and photo galleries.

The supplements:

  • Cast Commentaries with Tom-Weston Jones, Franka Potente, Kyle Schmid, Anastasia Griffith and Ato Essandoh
  • From the Creators (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:04:06):
    • The Story
    • Behind the Scenes
    • The Creative Team
    • Character Gallery
  • Behind the Badge Gallery
  • Fontana in Five Points (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:12:38) – The series creator tours today’s Five Points, the historic site where Copper is set.
  • Behind the Badge – The Making of Copper (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:44:10)
  • Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:36:24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Copper blows all other crime procedurals out of the water and even shakes up many of the period westerns, like Hell on Wheels, that are creeping onto television. This is a refreshing take on the period drama from – who else? – the BBC. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Copper: Season One on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Copper, Season 1 - Copper

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Purchase Copper: Season One on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Copper, Season 1 - Copper

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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