The Terror (Blu-ray)
One of the year's best shows is now on Blu-ray: The Terror, from executive producer Ridley Scott.
In 1845, two British ships entered the Arctic Circle in search of the elusive Northwest Passage. After getting stuck in ice, the crews endure unspeakable horrors that defy belief. Based on a true story. Stars Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, and Ciaran Hinds.
Executive-Produced by Ridley Scott.
Ten episodes are included in the three-disc set: 1.1 “Go for Broke,” 1.2 “Gore,” 1.3 “The Ladder,” 1.4 “Punished, as a Boy,” 1.5 “First Shot a Winner, Lads,” 1.6 “A Mercy,” 1.7 “Horrible From Supper,” 1.8 “Terror Camp Clear,” 1.9 “The C, The C, The Open Sea,” and 1.10 “We Are Gone.”
If you missed watching AMC’s “The Terror” earlier this year, but saw some of the promos and various commercials the network aired prior to the premiere, let me make it clear: they only hint at the viewing experience that the show delivered.
With the name of executive producer Ridley Scott attached to it, and a storyline teasing a creature in the Arctic, many likely got the impression that this was “Alien on Ice.” While there are certainly echoes to Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece, “The Terror” is so much more than that.
“The Terror” is a riveting, disturbing work, the likes of which are rarely seen on television, and it absolutely should not be missed. Featuring fantastic performances and a story with a number of twists, you really don’t know where “The Terror” is going, even though you know in the first five minutes how most of it turns out.
I should advise anyone preparing to watch the series: do NOT look up any information on the true story behind the series. It will both spoil and disappoint you slightly.
That’s because the producers take some artistic license with the story. Looking back, learning the whole truth did not dampen my attitude toward the show, because some of the most disturbing elements are true.
The story, set between 1845 and 1848, follows British Royal Navy Capt. Sir John Franklin (Ciaran Hinds), who is leading the ship HMS Terror (seriously, that was the name) and Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) commands the sister ship HMS Erebus on a search for the Northwest Passage through the Arctic.
Franklin’s hubris gets the ships into trouble almost immediately, as he insists on pushing on into the ice, which is not forgiving. It quickly becomes clear that Franklin has made a terrible mistake, and the crews get stuck in the icy wilderness for years.
Things get worse as a creature begins to stalk the ships, and the crew begins to descend into madness as shipmates die. Mutiny, hunger, and paranoia all set in, leaving only a few strong souls to save those who are left.
Hinds and Harris are exceptional, giving performances that make every scene they appear in compelling. The pacing can be a bit slow, but I didn’t mind it at all, as the cast all disappear into their roles, most notably Tobias Menzies and Paul Ready, who provide the emotional core of the show as Captain Fitzjames and Doctor Goodsir, respectively.
I could not help but to binge this show, it is that well done - and you won’t even mind that some of the scenes are obviously on a set. It mixes location shooting in well, so the illusion is maintained. The acting and atmosphere of paranoia is so well delivered, I found myself hooked from the first episode to the final, devastating shot in the finale.
"The Terror" is an absolute must-see; it was one of the best series on television this past year. With Ridley Scott promising a second season (I won’t spoil where the show is going), you’ll want to take this in as soon as you can. And then watch some cartoons to lift your spirits.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The blu-ray offers a solid, high definition image, for the most part. Some scenes struggle a bit with low lighting and appear to show some excessive grain. It’s only a sporadic problem, as most of the scenes feature sharp detail, while providing a washed-out color palette that is perfect for the snowy setting.
The blu-ray offers a bold 7.1 Dolby True HD soundtrack, which gives the show the proper, all-encompassing, creepy atmosphere.
Three featurettes are the only extras included in the set, included on the third disc. That’s beyond disappointing, as the true story of the Terror should have been thoroughly explored in the extras. The first thing I did after finishing the show is to do research on the internet, where a plethora of information on the true story exists. It should have easily been incorporated into a featurette or mini-documentary.
To add insult to injury, there is no digital copy included. That is a given on just about every Blu-ray release these days, and to not include one is inexcusable.
The extras included in the set are:
“A Look at the Characters” featurette. Ciaran Hinds, Tobias Menzies, Jared Harris and crew members discuss the lead roles in the series. Running Time: 3:40
“A Look at the Series” featurette. Ridley Scott discusses the show and he and the cast and crew provide some insight into the true story behind the show. At only three minutes, however, it doesn’t provide nearly enough detail. Running time: 3:02.
“Ridley Scott on ‘The Terror’” featurette. Scott describes the world and atmosphere they recreated for the show. The featurette is far too short, as Scott should have been given an hour to discuss his technique. Running Time: 2:27
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Rating: Not rated (Strong violence, adult themes)
Running Time: 7 hours, 53 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby True HD
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: “A Look at the Characters” featurette; “A look at the Series” featurette; “Ridley Scott on ‘The Terror’” featurette.