Developed by the Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, the co-creators of HBO's 'Big Love', 'Getting On' is based on BBC Four's awarding-winning comedy series of the same name, which was created by and starred Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan, and Vicki Pepperdine. The U.S. series is set at the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of the Mount Palms Hospital in Long Beach, CA and most of its humor is derived from awkward situations, reminiscent of shows like 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'The Office'.
In the premiere episode, "Born on the Fourth of July," nurse DiDi Ortley (Niecy Nash) joins the unit and quickly learns, just as the viewers do, to expect the unexpected when fecal matter is found in a waiting-room chair. Complicating matters is Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf), recently demoted to being the unit's director of medicine, who wants the sample saved for her research project. Also in this episode, a patient dies on her birthday, and the main concern of Dawn Forchette (Alex Borstein), the ward's head nurse, is how soon she can eat the cake the patient's sister sent.
"If You're Going to San Francisco" introduces new supervising nurse Patsy De La Serda (Mel Rodriguez), an overly sensitive man who people assume is gay, especially when he involves Human Resources and legal representation after Didi makes a complimentary joke based on the ranting of a cruel, racist, foul-mouthed patient named Varla (June Squibb in a scenery-chewing performance). Dawn, however, is certain he is straight since they have a sexual relationship throughout the season, disregarding the fact that it always involves alcohol and never involves vaginal sex.
Over the course of the remaining four episodes that make up the first season, Olsen and Scheffer write marvelous scripts that deliver plenty of laughs but also allow the main characters and their relationships with one another to grow and evolve. The main cast shines as they play things seriously for the laughs, though there are moments of silliness like Dawn falling into a water fountain. There's also a great collection of co-stars from recurring characters to guest stars like Molly Shannon, Henry Dean Stanton, and Daniel Stern.
'Getting On: The Complete First Season' deals with a lot dark humor and uncomfortable subjects, which should be expected considering the series is set in a hospital ward filled with elderly patients. It's certainly not for everyone, but for those who can appreciate comedy in all aspects of life, the show is well worth seeking out because of the outstanding writing and acting.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.78:1. Shot with a Red Scarlet camera, the image is pristine, free of any dirt or defect. The cinematography (Tami Reiker shot the first episode and Jim Denault took over the remainder of the series) accurately captures the drab appearance of a hospital with its color palette of dull hues. Bright hues pop up on occassion. Black levels are solid and contribute to a good contrast.
The image is sharp, revealing fine details in the textures of objects, such as the clothing of the patients and hospital staff, and the workspaces. There is great depth on displayin the frames. The video appears free of digital artifacts.
The audio is available in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The series soundtrack is mostly comprised of dialogue, which is clear and understandable throughout. The surrounds and LFE channel have very little to do other than play the music during an episode's closing credits. There's some minor ambiance of the hospital, but that is almost negligible. While the dynamic range might not be wide, the audio track delivers what viewers heard when the show aired on HBO.
What I most enjoyed about 'Getting On: The Complete First Season' is that the show introduced me to new characters and situations that intrigued me enough to see what's coming next. This is one of the best new comedies I have seen in a while. Hopefully Blu-ray fans will give it a try. Highly recommended.