Okay, I admit am a bit out of my element here. The cult of Highlander has always mystified me. I have never understood it. Never cared to understand it and furthermore, I don’t know that starting with the 6th and final season of the show gives me the best jumping off point to write about it.
Lets backup, very briefly, Highlander follows Duncan MacLoed. He is an immortal swordsman who goes around battling others. He has lived for 5 centuries. He is a clansman of Connor MacLoed. Christopher Lambert portrayed Connor in the Highlander movies. This is frankly all that I understand. It isn’t that these shows are poorly done, I just find entertainment of this ilk has always confused me. I can’t really pinpoint why this is or when it started happening, I will just say that when we get into the realm of “Fantasy Films”, something inside of myself just shuts off.
In fact, a few years ago I started to watch the first Highlander on HBO. I think it started at a wrestling match. I watched it for a few moments until the Christopher Lambert character fought(and I believed killed) somebody in the parking lot. In fact, he might have even decapitated him because I know that in the lore of the show, that is the only way that an immortal like Duncan or Connor can be killed. Then again, this is all from what I understand, the person who wins a battle absorbs all of the losers power. Which would explain why certain people within the Highlander show are more powerful then others.
Okay, back to my first viewing experience. I am not sure why, but I just turned the movie off. This was many years ago and as such I was a young boy, so it’s not like I had something else to do. I just remember completely losing interest.
Sadly to say, in 2005, the 6th Season of Highlander did absolutely nothing for me. In fact, there were quite a few moments during my viewing that I paused the disc, and would go and consult IMDB or something else, to try and help me along. I don’t think the show goes out of it’s way to be this confusing, I just think that this is how things end up. When you are abysmally interested in something, then you have to watch it with a “critical eye”, sometimes the criticalness gets the best of you. In this case, Highlander just is not my cup of tea.
I found a lot of the swordfighting scenes to be good and it’s not like this boxset isn’t entertaining, it’s just that I found myself not really caring at all not only about the characters, but anything happening. I am just somebody who was out of his element. And I did try, I even considered watching the movies to see if that would help stir some interest within myself but it just never happened. In fact, when I was finally done viewing the discs, I had no desire to really see anymore.
I will say however, that should you be a fan of the show, and I am sure that the show has many of those as there have been multiple movie and this boxset does cover the 6th season of the TV show, you will be more then satisfied. I mean, you have 8 disks here. Each show is broken up into scene selections, which is not something that I remember the other TV on DVDs that I reviewed having. There were a few times, I was almost overwhelmed by everything that this set was offering. It was all laid out well, I just got confused because certain things had different names, or they seemed like they different names when referenced from inside and outside the boxset. At one point, I had to lay all the DVDs on my bed, and look at through the listings inside the boxset so I could try and find a few things. Other then a semi-confusing layout, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, something like Memento might really benefit from having something like that.
Deleted, Alternate Scenes, Outtakes and Bloopers
Any boxset that tells you that it includes “13 episodes and hours of extras” has got to be good for the true fans. And let me tell you something, this thing is so jam-packed with extras, that I almost don’t know where to begin. The disks are all spread out in a really cool way in that it seems like every episode has some sort of a “special” feature about it. For example, some thing like the first episode “Avatar” has interviews with the cast and crew as well as bonus footage. Then you go to say, the 5th disc for the “Not to Be” episode, and you get Interviews with the cast and crew as well as bonus footage too. Within this footage are deleted scenes, different shots of various scenes that didn’t make the cut and scenes that could have been in the movie but just weren’t for one reason or another. This set feels as though the creators, knowing that this was the end, decided to give Highlander: Season Sixth the royal treatment. I did enjoy the bloopers, but I think I would enjoy those for anything as you are seeing people mess up and it’s been caught on film. Or, you’re seeing them screw around. There is plenty of all of that here.
Interviews with Cast and Crew
Again, this is quite interestingly done because the DVDs creators have seemed to include these interviews with EVERY episode. Now, that to me is going the extra mile. Many times you see a featurette of interviews for an ENTIRE set, but that is thrown out the window here. I skipped around a lot with this set, as there was a great deal to cover, but I enjoyed hearing some of the actors anecdotes of their reasoning behind certain choices that they as actors made whilst on the set and creating this world. I skipped to “Not To Be”(the final episode) after I watched some of the interviews from the “Avatar” episode, just see where the actors and characters would be. It would have actually have been interesting to start with the first season, just see how much things had changed. I didn’t have that material, but I found the interviews to be poignant and while these actors knew that things were coming to end, they were also proud about what they had accomplished and proud to have been such integral parts of the Highlander tradition.
A look at the final season and the show in general in pictures. The makers of the show seem to know that the endgame for them was going to be a life created for the show on DVD. They seem to have been creating archival footage from the very beginning. The pictures are timely while also showing how far the show has come, as well as what kind of subject matter was dealt with. With 8 discs I found this a little hard to find, but it was a nicely well done piece. There is no shortage of stuff on these discs. What I mean by that is that nothing here is just done in small way. As this is the end, the photo gallery is lengthy retrospective of Highlander. Who would have ever known that something I so easily dismissed when I was younger, would have such a long(no pun intended) shelf life?
These are mixed in with certain episode. They didn’t do them for each one, just specific ones or ones that they probably felt merited such consideration. It’s cool hearing the creators talk about what went into making the show, and how they had to adapt because the Highlander character is very much always on the go. As a result of traveling around and getting into trouble, the actors are in parts that are very physically demanding. It was interesting hearing stories of what happened on the set, or during certain scenes, or how a “beheading” seems like almost became routine after awhile.
We get to see a documentary of the “Finale Backstage” as well as “400 Years - The Journey of Duncan MacLoed” and there even a few others. In fact, they packed this thing up so much, they spilt over on to other discs. Other then not really being into Highlander I found this to be the biggest problem. There was so much stuff, it got confusing. And looking for it, and inserting and ejecting discs into and out of my player...it got a little frustrating at times. Everything here is well done, there’s no mistake about that, it would have just been nicer if it would have been easier to find. I enjoyed the “Swordmaster” retrospective on Bob Anderson, although it did pixelate in my player so I had to switch to another one. It was cool seeing Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul talk about how much he brought to the show.
This is a CD filled with scripts, talent bios and trivia and production notes. So basically, if after viewing all the episodes and going through the plethora of extra materials, if you want more this CD will give it to you. As a screenwriter, I went through some of the scripts and it hit me that this DVD is like a comprehensive Highlander school. It is very inspiring to see the care that went into this. I mean, sometimes I think DVD boxsets go a little overboard(see Return of the King to see what I mean), and unless I really like a movie I want that, but here I think it’s fine that something that maybe wasn’t the biggest thing, that didn’t take the world by storm, I think it’s cool that it gets the notice that it deserves.
Full Screen format. Sometimes this show had a little too much of a “video” feel to me. Almost like a higher quality movie made with a camcorder. Add to that a lot butt kicking and beheadings, and one could see how this might devolve into kitsch. I ran into some pixilation issues with the menus and in some of the shows. Now, I could blame the transfers on the creators but after looking at the stuff on another DVD player I found that it was probably a result of my equipment. I own a VERY inexpensive AMW DVD player so it makes sense that from time to time, with a disk set that is so concentrated, it might crap out. The picture for the shows and the extras are all very clear, and sometimes due to how they were shot, too crisp.
5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. The music is really amplified by how good this sounds. I know this is a simple TV show, but the music creates a sense of urgency and is very catchy. It sounds simple and it probably is. The sound overall was very good. I had to turn up my set a few times during some of the featurettes, because in certain parts they just weren’t loud enough. Again, when you have the amount of content that a boxset like this one has, you can see where here and there everything may not be 100%. I am willing to forgive this mainly because I appreciate the effort that Anchor Bay has made.
This is awesome. From the little external, full wrap cover that tells you what is on the discs, to the 8 disk layout that has all the scene selections under the discs, to the imagery of what and who the MacLoed Character is. The inside gives you a nice overview of the show, and the overall look of this package is enough for I think fans and non fans alike to give it a second look. The color scheme(black and gold) is very eye catching. Just holding it in your hand, you feel the weight of something that is really well put together. It is heavier then ANY DVD boxset I have ever held before. That was probably the first thing I noticed. I knew from that moment, without reading the litany of things that were listed on the back, that this boxset was going to go the extra mile, even if it wasn’t something I normally would watch.
Okay, so I concede maybe I didn’t come into Highlander with the most open of minds. I could have tried to forget my first viewing experience of the show but I am not sure that that would have done me a whole lot of good. I mean if something like Lord of the Rings isn’t going to get my heart pumping, I doubt that Highlander: Season Sixth is really going to do much either. I cannot pinpoint when this started because I grew up loving movies like Beastmaster and Clash of the Titans and while I know that the stories and subject matter is different, it is all very similar as far as that type stuff is concerned.
To end this on a bright note, I do have to applaud Anchor Bay on making such a comprehensive dvd package for this series. I mean, they could have just thrown a few discs in plastic box and then tried to sell that, but they didn’t. In fact they NEVER do. Every disc is handled with an amazing amount of tender loving care and I can appreciate that, even if I don’t happen to appreciate Highlander: Season Sixth.
“There Can Be Only One” and this boxset is it.
Highlander was released .