The Good

The supplemental features open up what goes into making a show of this sort.

The Bad

This show sort of lost itself during this season.

Having reviewed a lot of the other Pretender seasons, I was looking forward to watching The Pretender: The Complete Fourth Season because it had been sort of detached and cerebral for the first three seasons. I was wondering how they were going to tie things up and if Jarod was going to reach his goal of finding his family.

Without giving too much away, there is about 60% of this show's "magic" in this fourth season. There are tremendous detours, the biggest involving a love affair with Miss Parker (Andrea Parker) and Broots (John Gries) which is done via a dream sequence. I just didn't understand the point of this and I felt that the time could have been better spent following Jarod. Sadly, I also think that there were missteps taken with his character that ultimately undermined the persona created in the other seasons.

Still, if you have the first three seasons than it makes sense that you should pick up The Pretender: The Complete Fourth Season.

Features

Commentary Tracks

Three commentary tracks are available in this four disc set. They are for the episodes Rules of Engagement, 'Til Death Do Us Part and Cold Dick. I chose to listen to the Cold Dick track because it featured the creator Craig W. Van Sickle, writer/producer Juan Carlos Coto and the Pretender himself, Michael T. Weiss. The other tracks offered up more writers and actors, but I wanted to hear what these guys (especially Weiss) had to say about the show. They discussed the story arcs, the characters, how they wanted to push the boundaries in this final season and other things along those lines. There are a lot of laughs to be heard and I was happy I chose this track to review.

Jarod's Mythology

As I said, I reviewed the other seasons of this show so I found this two part featurette to be somewhat redundant. It is done with talking heads and other shots from the show, and for as long as this thing lasted, I really don't feel that I got any more insight into Jarod than I already had. Still, it might be nice for the diehard fans to watch this two part segment after they screen this show's final episode.

"Looking for Chip Greenfelt" Featurette

Chip Greenfelt is an imaginary character. If you sound out the name it is actually a poker table that the people who worked on this show would commune at when they should have been working. Well, actually I think that that is a more romantic idea. I think they worked hard and then met in Mr. Greenfelt's office at the end of the day. Still, I think that's pretty gutsy that they admit now who this imaginary person really wasn't.

Video

Widescreen - Anamorphic 1.78:1. The look of this show is similar to the other seasons in that it I think The Pretender was one of the first shows to usher in the dyspeptic look and plot twists that seem to pervade so much of today's programming. The shows look really well composed and blocked, with the color of choice being a lot of harsh blacks and blues. Those tones appear to have also aided the compression on these discs.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English, Spanish and French Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. There is a coldness to the audio that adds a lot to this show. As I mentioned above, the look of this show is pretty harsh, and the accompanying audio really does a lot to add to that feeling. While I wish they would have employed more synthesizers, I am thankful that they didn't incorporate the Euro, techno beats that are so popular nowadays.

Package

Jarod is kneeling down, clad in a black jacket with what looks like a silhouette of Miss Parker behind him on this front cover. The back offers up a description of this show which seems to be the same description that they've used for the other episodes (I'll have to check that). There is a Special Features listing and a technical specs list. All four discs are economically housed in two slim cases, with the same front cover image on each one. On the back of them are episode listings, airdates and two line descriptions.

Final Word

Why is that TV shows nowadays almost look for a chance to jump the shark? While I mentioned above that this final season of The Pretender has it's fair share of missteps, ultimately I think this show does get back to itself. Perhaps when you have so many creative types, sharing one vision of what a show should be, especially over a four year run, keeping the throughline together is probably very hard to do. Maybe if these shows weren't so intricate, if they didn't have to be laced with zingers every week in order to keep viewers, maybe these kinds of shows might have different fates and run for longer periods of time?

The Pretender was released .