Review of "The 100 Season 1 (DVD)"

published 01/12/2016 | BrutalHonesty91
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Super
Pro New concept, flawless delivery, excellent use of soundtrack,
Cons Teen/Young Audience focused? Possibly misleading in content??
exceptional
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Characters / Performances
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"Post Apocalyptic, 5 Star Drama..."

The 100 Season 1 (DVD) - Inner

The 100 Season 1 (DVD) - Inner

The 100 Box Set: Packaging & Contents

Season 1 of The 100 is presented in a standard sized DVD case housed within a decorative cardboard sleeve. Both the DVD case and cardboard sleeve boast the same images; that is a dramatic and gloomy shot of a group of the main cast, faces a combination of fear, confusion and strength. Layered behind the foreground featuring the characters we see the silhouettes of humans falling from an overcast, irate looking sky. The title and season number is proudly emblazoned both on the front and side of the case. The rear of the case contains a brief blurb introducing the viewer to the series and effectively setting the scene.

The full running time of 522 minutes is housed on 3 discs, all of which are housed within the single DVD case, making for more concise and efficient storage. A list of the episodes and their titles is listed within the inner of the case alongside a brief synopsis of each. Each disc features the logo of The 100 atop a muted nuclear symbol in a steel grey shade, appearing industrial and faded which I found a nice touch.

While nothing about the box set is overly remarkable, it is more than fit for purpose and of a solid construction whilst presented in a manner which seems appropriate. I would have personally liked some relevant inserts or literature but fewer and fewer DVDs seem to include these now so this is a minor criticism for which I attach no significance for the purposes of this review.

Welcome to the Ark

After a devastating nuclear apocalypse caused mass destruction and untold radiation levels on planet earth, the vast majority of the worlds population has been decimated and the few remaining inhabitants have no choice but to flee. Fast forward 97 years, and we find ourselves on 'The Ark' or Camp Arkadia, as it is formally known, a system of 12 large space stations on which the human race settled after their desperate escape.

Due to the technological advances which had occurred prior to this tragic event, a few thousand survivors have made it to the network of space stations and seem to be not only adapting, but thriving. The community is tight knit and the Ark even has a hierarchy and a strict code of conduct and rules, enforced by the survivors who have been appointed 'security'.

Under this strict code of conduct however, any crime, no matter how minor results in the perpetrator being 'floated'. This term refers to a swift death sentence, delivered by being ejected from The Ark and into the waiting jaws of our vast uninhabitable galaxy. This law extends even to the children and teenagers who occupy the space station, with the only difference being in that they are held in a prison of sorts until the arrival of their 18th birthday; a day devoid of celebration as it marks the end of their time awaiting execution.

Whilst their social system grows more stable and structured, it grows ever more dystopian with the few seeming to brutally rule the many. The elected leader, Ja-Ha attempts to remain balanced and seems much softer than the harsh regimes in place, but in spite of this, the policies endure due to the necessity of maintaining order. Some are staunch supporters of the system, however many are sat firmly on the side of opposition, no matter how silently. After seeing loved ones 'float' for crimes as minor as petty theft, resentment is building and a change seems imminent on the horizon.

The 100

Whilst the change seems imminent and necessary, it comes delivered in the surprising form of yet more hardship and struggle for the survivors of the nuclear fallout. With overpopulation rampant and resources growing ever sparser and less adequate for the level of need, Ja-Ha and his senior assistants have a confidential and difficult scenario on which to decide the best course of action.

It becomes impossible to sustain the inhabitants of Camp Arkadia in their current numbers, and at this point the 100 to which the series owes its namesake, is born. The 100 are the unfortunate minors currently counting down the days to their 18th birthday; due to the lack of resources and the race against a loudly ticking clock, these 100 in holding are deemed the most expendable.

Rather than simply float the 100 earlier than their expected execution date, a decision is made that they will attempt to send them down to whatever is left of the once majestic planet earth in a drop ship. There is no guarantee that they will survive the ascent, let alone a foray onto a planet whose once toxic radiation levels are entirely uncharted, but an alternative to The Ark must be found; It is finally time to discover whether the Earth is survivable again.

The 100 vary in age from children to young adults just weeks away from their 18th birthday but one thing they all have in common is the uncertainty they face. Whilst all are frightened, many see this as a pardon of sorts from the death sentence they had been awaiting and are eager to arrive on planet Earth, a landscape many of them have dreamed about since childhood after never having experienced the the sight nor joy of open spaces, green grass, free-flowing water and luscious greenery. The planet Earth they know is one studied in books which survived the apocalyptic fallout almost a century ago, meaning the world that awaits them and any nuclear damage is an unknown quantity.

Although the destruction of the radiation was assumed to be total, the 100 soon come to realize that not every survivor made it to the Ark and they are not the only creatures fighting for survival on this post apocalyptic horizon, in addition to battling against the unpredictable conditions they face. Life was not entirely eradicated, but only time will tell how much humanity as we recognise it remains....

Episode Listing

The 100, season 1 has a total of 13 episodes, each with an average run time of 43 minutes and these are as follows;
  1. Pilot
  2. Earth Skills
  3. Earth Kills
  4. Murphy's Law
  5. Twilight's Last Gleaming
  6. His Sister's Keeper
  7. Contents Under Pressure
  8. Day Trip
  9. Unity Day
  10. I Am Become Death
  11. The Calm
  12. We Are Grounders, Prt 1
  13. We Are Grounders, Prt 2

I would like to tell you which of these in particular stood out for me, but I couldn't pinpoint any episodes which dominated or overshadowed any other. With the quality and depth of story remaining consistently gripping from beginning to end, it really would seem unjust to single out any particular sequence.

100 Reasons

I have to admit that this is usually not something I would be attracted to at all. As a general rule, I strongly dislike anything that has even a hint of the Sci-Fi genre for a multitude of reasons but The Hundred challenged that attitude entirely. I personally found that the overall 'feel' of the program was not one typical of the genre, despite the overall subject matter being rooted within science fiction. From the first episode I found myself gripped and entirely immersed in a plot that was portrayed so well it seemed entirely plausible as opposed to futuristic and potentially fantastical.

Initially, we as the viewer seem to primarily follow Clarke, played by Eliza Taylor , who is not only a detainee waiting to be executed on her 18th but is also the daughter of senior doctor, Abby (Paige Turco). While Clarke is a likable character, tough and inspirational, I appreciated the fact that we seemed to spend a significant amount of time with all characters as opposed to honing in on Clarke entirely. The highly varied angles, in both filming and perspective added a much rounder aspect and intensified the experience in my opinion.

We are plunged immediately into an alien and futuristic world, both aboard the Ark and after we hit the ground but despite the somewhat science fiction setting, we find the humanity and the actors portrayal of relationships to be undeniably terrestrial, familiar and flawlessly painted upon the TV screen. The challenges which the 100 face are no different, and despite seeming initially otherworldly, none actually seem unbelievable and I found myself desperate to see what the 100 would encounter next or which precarious resolution they would find to best handle another situation of struggle.

Without giving away too much, not all of the hundred fare well on this new and alien landscape we call planet Earth and for this reason, we find that relationships rapidly become complex, fraught with a desperate need for solidarity while simultaneously growing ever more tense with mistrust. Each cast member I personally feel had their work cut out for them with every single character playing a complex role which required a multifaceted performance. Throughout every episode I felt we are shown the characters as not only victims but survivors, not only strong but scared, not only only fearless but also fearsome.

As mentioned, many of the situations faced are entirely out of the ordinary, but the bonds which are forged under immense pressure seem as galvanised as they would be in any real life scenario and I found celebrating every relationship forged, cheering every moment of happiness while also believing every threat and hanging onto the syllables of every shock revelation. These shocking moments come thick and fast, but never in a manner which I found confusing. While being knocked for six, I didn't find myself having to work out what had just occurred which is something I have found with other hard hitting dramas and is a feature I personally do not like. The 100 offers a white knuckle ride, full of twists and turns but never blindsiding you to the point of bewilderment.

Although the overall forecast is gloomy, desolate and desperate, the clouds are not all grey as hope and horizons anew are both themes that seem to run deep and strong. While many scenes will leave you aghast and full of adrenaline, the bleak, frightening reality the gang face is far from relentless and we see fractures of light and optimism throughout. The need to survive, and the action which extends from this are the main aspects of intrigue throughout but the triumphant moments are a light through the clouds which assists in illustrating the picture whilst simultaneously serving to temporarily dissipate the hopelessness the 100 are facing. I found the performance the actors delivered so compelling that it was impossible not to feel their hopelessness and therefore found the moments of celebration, happiness and hope were a welcome break which brightened the sequence while serving the dual purpose of highlighting the futility of the darker situations.

The survival instinct is of course stronger within some of the participants of this twisted experiment than others, and in that vein we rapidly see leaders and followers developing; an inevitable hierarchy in a situation so foreign that it is literally intergalactic! Although much of my critique has focused on what happens on the ground, the events occurring in the makeshift space home which our race call 'The Ark' are no less noteworthy and enormous in their effect and consequence and we find ourselves regularly transported between the two worlds, ever aware of how the fortunes of one inevitably interacts with the other.

Neither me nor my partner found the constant shifting between scenes and settings to be disorientating or confusing and this in no way negatively impacted the fluidity of the delivery of the story, rather being optimised to prolong suspense.

After much thought, I can not help but wonder if what made the series so powerful was the realistic factor, not only in special effects and filming but with some extent the plot too. While it is futuristic and science fiction based, the idea of a fractious society, its members desperate to survive and unsure who to trust in the face of such instability is something that isn't so unrealistic at all. The series shows us human nature and desire in its most primal form and there is something understated, basic and raw about this despite the impression of something a series so advanced and remarkable.

I really felt as though despite my previous prejudices regarding the genre on the whole, The 100 gave me 100 reasons to change my mind and I really don't think I could have enjoyed it more. Many, many concepts seem to be growing old and tired and we seem to see the same story lines or events cropping up across multiples series'. This is an issue I did not feel was remotely true in the case of The 100 and for the revolutionary concept and entirely new direction this series seems to have progressed in I feel the writers and producers should be viewed with an even higher level of regard.

The 100 may have changed my mind but I can't help but be quite adamant that this is still only in the respect of The 100 itself. Science fiction will still never be a genre towards which I gravitate, and I can't help but think that part of the reason I enjoyed The 100 so much is because it is such a stand alone piece of work within the sector. Maybe prior to this I have watched aaaaaall the wrong Sci-Fi films and selected all of the wrong Sci-Fi books but I tend to find the genre synonymous with bizarre, ridiculously fantastical storylines and characters which I find impossible to relate to. If what I am describing is your idea of Sci Fi, The 100 will certainly break that mold for you also and I would personally like to see much more from the genre, but in this new sleek and intriguing format.

Criticism?

I don't know if this was my perception and mine alone, but I did feel there was something decidedly young about the series, although I wouldn't describe it in any way as immature. Maybe it was the mean age of the majority of the cast, maybe it was the soundtrack selection... It might even be the technologically familiar world around which the plot centers, but I personally felt that this was primarily aimed at the 18-30 market?

I fall into this bracket whereas my partner ranks slightly over, but neither of us found that this created any negative feeling for us although due to the assumed young target market, I felt that aspects of some story lines were somewhat transparent and it was easy to spot young love in many forms, long before any confirmation of this sense is confirmed. While the overall subject matter is revolutionary and the effort which has gone into this undeniable, I felt that the more human aspects were a little flimsy in places, with that boy presumably winding up in the arms of that girl. Although I suspect we fall loosely into the target audience criteria, we do generally go for programs with more adult themes than this.

While this is a criticism, I would also like to point out that on this front, The 100 manages to throw us curve ball after curve ball, regularly shaking the foundations of what we think we know. This makes me question whether the obvious factor has been used deliberately by the authors and producers in order to lull the audience into a false sense of security, making the secondary event always more jaw dropping than the first, especially because they seem to strike us as such surprise blows in the wake of a seemingly predictable moment.

I would also have to comment at this stage that based on the subject matter I so desperately both expected and wanted more radiation based visuals and scenarios to be included in the plot. In one of the opening scenes, the group see a beautiful deer grazing in a serene and green woodland. After pausing to admire it, one of the group accidentally garners its attention and at this point we see that one side of his face is horrifically mutated. The impression of course, is that this defect is as a result of the damage which the radioactive fall out has caused and this peaked my attention.

The particular scene is attention grabbing and I was eager to see more, curious as to how this could have affected the appearances of other animals and also their temperament. Due to this being a prominent scene which is very, very early on in the series and was also featured heavily in the trailers, I found myself somewhat disappointed that very little in this vein actually featured within the show. Overall, I couldn't help but find the advertising and the way this scene was so prominently featured somewhat misleading. In my opinion, this side of the story could have been explored much further and I would have liked to see this, especially when considering the high quality of special effects and cinematography used throughout.

And now for my final criticism (I really did enjoy this series stupendously, I swear; I just like to be fair!). While the relationships forged did serve to make this series much easier to relate to than others of its kind, I did find that those relationships took up a little too much air time for me and at times seemed to severely overshadow more important issues. A bit of romance is a welcome addition to most programs but not in the spades with which it is added to The 100. I felt as though a highly significant amount of time was spent focusing on the affairs and love connections the group were making and the hearts that were breaking. I can't help but confess to enjoying this aspect, but only to a degree; it just seemed a little continuous in places but did balance out the action and violence. (Maybe I'm just bloodthirsty?!)

Characters & Casting

Although a fair 95% of the cast members were completely new and unfamiliar to myself and my partner who enjoyed this alongside me, I have since discovered that the majority of them do have pre-existing acting careers, with a fair few being very well established. A few examples of this include Eliza Taylor, who was a cast member on the popular Australian soap 'Home & Away', while Bob Morley featured in 'Neighbours' and Ricky Whittle (the one character I did recognise), has starred in a number of British productions such as Dream Team and Hollyoaks,

In the interests of keeping this review as concise as possible,I have chosen to only include a brief list of the cast members who delivered the most noteworthy performances for me personally; whether because I was rooting for them or whether they managed to create that character that the audience just love to hate, each and every one delivered a performance without which The 100 would simply be incomplete.
  • Eliza Taylor - as Clarke
  • Ricky Whittle - as Link
  • Bob Morley - as Bellamy
  • Marie Avgeropoulos - as Octavia
  • Lindsey Morgan - as Raven
  • Thomas McDonnell- as Finn

Soundtrack

I find a soundtrack can do so much to enhance or detract from any TV show or movie but I felt that the producers of this show used their musical choices very wisely, with every score dramatising the scene further, added a higher emotive level than what could have been delivered otherwise.

One particularly memorable use of the soundtrack within The 100 Season 1 for me personally was the placement of YoungBlood Hawke's - We Come Running. The scene itself is one of hope, excitement, curiosity and a bold fearless sense of discovery, the intensity of which can be felt just as much as seen and the way in which this vibrant and lively anthem compliments the cinematography simply must be commented on.

Another prominent and somewhat more well known track which featured within the series was _Radioactive by the Imagine Dragons, which I also found to be perfectly placed, the lyrics relevant, powerful and deliberately adding to the anticipation of the moment within which it was used.

Special Effects

While I am nothing of an expert, I feel I can attest that the special effects far exceeded the level I would potentially expect for a TV series, seeming much closer in quality to those used for the big screen. Often, both myself and my partner will find ourselves sniggering or outright howling at poorly purposed latex injuries, disappointing character depth or special effects no more impressive than a marionette yet neither one of us so much has smirked throughout the series... At least not where we shouldn't have!

Some of the effects which are achieved I personally felt were not minor illusions to create for the screen but large scale deceptions which were incredibly believable and seemingly flawless in their execution. The special effects added to this series considerably and although the acting and exceptionally appointed scenes make The 100 the captivating success it is, I feel that the special effects afford this a smooth, polished finish which makes even the more graphic scenes so real you can practically taste, feel and breathe in the atmosphere which surrounds our brave explorers.

Special Features?

One factor which some may find disappointing is something of a lack of special features. An inclusive list of special features included within Season 1 there is footage from the 2013 Comic Con Panel, an audio commentary and a collection of unaired scenes.

I very rarely make the most of any special features which accompany DVDs, but nevertheless found this something of a small selection, particularly for a series not only so new but so technologically focused.

Age Restrictions

The box set is ranked as an 18, meaning this is not suitable for viewing by persons under the age of 18 years old. Based on the violence and some of the more adult content such as sexual scenes involved, I feel the rating is deserved and correct.

Availability & Pricing

At the time of writing this review (Dec 2016), The 100, Season 1 DVD is £12.49 with free delivery via Amazon.co.uk although I struggled to find it much elsewhere.

A Hot Tip!!

Series 1-3 are currently available as a box set for just £29.99 on both Zavvi and HMVonline. Once you've watched the first, you will crave the second, so it might be best to think in advance and invest for the longterm!

Comments and Ratings Across The Internet

On _rottentomatoescom_ The 100 Season 1 ranked a hefty 7/10 on average despite the harsh but fair style of critique on the site. The vast majority on Amazon.co.uk have given this 5 stars and it also boasts an average of 7.8/10 on IMDB.

_Vulture.com_ states that 'The 100 is Sci-Fi done right', which I personally agree with, as you might have gathered!

Not all reviews and critiques were as complimentary however, with _hollywoodreporter.com_ branding the show: 'A sci-fi pastiche filled with pretty faces, 'The 100' is an exploration-based series that never gets below the surface.'

Clearly this isn't everyones' cup of tea but the majority seem rather fond if ratings are anything to go by. Aside HollywoodReporter I struggled to find further negative press.

The Future

The end of the season leaves us desperate for more, understanding enough to be fully invested in both the series and the future of its characters whilst also refusing to quench our thirst entirely. I found myself reeling slightly, shocked that it seemed over so quickly, except, thirteen episodes really isn't an overtly short length for a TV series of this nature. The fast paced, heart stopping nature of the program, interspersed with the periods of deceptive calm which ripple with suspense mean that not a moment is wasted and the user has no time to grasp how quickly the events flashing across the screen progress.

If you, like me, find the Sci Fi genre something of a turn off, please do not let that reservation stop you from giving this the opportunity to become your new favourite series. If you do decide to give this the chance I feel it genuinely deserves, you will find that season 2 and 3 have already aired and are therefore available on DVD, although season 3 is actually only airing on channel 4, UK TV now after being released in the US quite some time ago. There is no talk of the show coming to an end any time soon either and I can confirm that according to various web sources the 4th season is set to air in the US in January 2017.

Since watching the first episode, this has gripped me in a way that no new TV series has done for a considerable length of time and certainly no Sci Fi series ever and I have therefore followed it right up until its present stage. I guess you could say I climbed into the drop ship with them, and I'll never be the same again either. If that is the case, I'd recommend catching up with this addictive and revolutionary show before the release of season 4. Trust me, you need to be prepared when the time comes! After all, you wouldn't want to find yourself lost in space too...

©BrutalHonesty91

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Comments on this review

  • EurekasLaw published 24/12/2016
    vh
  • siberian-queen published 07/12/2016
    I really enjoy this series, can't wait for the next one to come out
  • Pointress published 05/12/2016
    Top notch review - have an E
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Product Information : The 100 Season 1 (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

EAN: 5051892181778

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Franchise Name: The 100

DVD Region: DVD

Actor: Eliza Taylor; Paige Turco; Thomas McDonell

Title: 1

Classification: 18 years and over

Production Year: 2014

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Listed on Ciao since: 23/10/2014