The television debut of Jay and Mark Duplass, Togetherness follows two couples living under one roof on the fringes of Los Angeles. Brett and Michelle (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) are struggling to rekindle the spark in their relationship, which has puttered out from the stresses of marriage and children. When Brett's friend Alex (Steve Zissis) and Michelle's sister Tina (Amanda Peet) m ove in with them, the foursome engage in a tragically comedic struggle to follow their personal dreams while still remaining good fr iends, siblings, and spouses to each other.
Mark and Jay Duplass (mostly known as the Duplass Bros.) have taken Hollywood by storm over the past few years. These brothers have had a hand in almost every aspect of filmmaking from acting, writing, producing, and directing. From projects such as 'The League', 'Jeff Who Lives at Home', 'Transparent', 'Safety Not Guaranteed', 'Zero Dark Thirty', and 'The One I Love', it's easy to see why everyone wants to work with these guys. Their resumes are quite impressive, which is why HBO wanted to add them to their roster.
The Duplass Bros. along with actor/writer Steve Zissis have created a new series about true family life in Los Angeles that tends to be more on the dramatic and realistic side than any sort of comedy show that ends happily. It's a breath of fresh air for sure as their show 'Togetherness' had a critically acclaimed first season and is doing well in its second year. 'Togetherness' might not have the "togetherness" that the title suggests, as we follow four people who are dealing with their own personal issues, and don't necessarily want to be with someone else.
That being said, The Duplass Bros. and Zissis have shown and captured the emotional struggles of four individuals who may or may not want more in life. Brett and Michelle Pierson (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey respectively) are a married couple with a couple of young kids in Los Angeles. However, they seem distant in their relationship and never seem to be on the same page, especially when it comes to sex, which brings up one of many very awkward situations that will make you squirm in your seat.
Brett's best friend Alex (Zissis) is an overweight struggling actor, who is evicted from his place and comes to live at Brett and Michelle's house. If that weren't a handful, Michelle's sister Tina (Amanda Peet) comes to visit from Houston and ends up being dumped by her boyfriend, causing her to move in to Brett and Michelle's house as well. This could have been a remake of 'Full House', but this doesn't have the funny, happy-go-lucky attitude that Bob Saget instilled on everyone.
Instead, with 'Togetherness', we see these four people deal with life issues that seem very realistic and everyday problems with the best way they can. Some work out, where most don't, which should give you the overall tone of the series. As Brett and Michelle try to work out their problems, other people come into their lives and try and complicate things. Meanwhile, Tina and Alex seem to have formed a bond, but things get quite awkward between them as well, because these two personalities are definitely not matched up.
I commend this show and its first season for not sticking with the normal Hollywood relationships or overall happy feel that we see so often. HBO is good about this in most of their programming, and it's good to see a series with this type of feel and characters step outside of the box.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Togetherness Season One' comes with two 50GB Blu-ray Discs that are both Region A locked from HBO. Both discs are housed in a hard blue plastic cast with one insert that has all of the digital download information on it. There are no other inserts here. There is also a cardboard sleeve.
'Togetherness Season One' comes was a very good 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.787:1 aspect ratio. This series has a very organic look to it and not a polished digital feeling. With its mostly dreary tone, the visuals are just as flat. The detail looks sharp for the most part, particularly in the exterior shots during the daytime where the sun is bright. Other than that, most of the show is shot in low lit interiors or at night, which makes for a lot of the closeups and wider shots to looks soft.
Still, in the best instances, you can make out freckles, wrinkles, and makeup blemishes quite nicely. Colors don't really pop out or seem bold, although things look natural. It's just a rather somewhat earthy tone and gloomy type of feel. The black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones looks natural as well. There was some minor crush as well as some video noise, but other than that, this video presentation looks pretty solid.
This release comes with a nice lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and does the deed for a dialogue driven show. In fact, pretty much all of this show is only dialogue, mostly between two people at a time. Don't expect any gun shots or explosions really here, as this is not that kind of series. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow and perfectly balanced and layered. There were no instances of pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. There was some great directionality as well.
The sound effects really pick up when the family goes to the beach or when Brett records a variety of sounds for his profession. This tends to be immersive section of the show, but unfortunately, it doesn't last long. The songs and score always add to each scene in forms of tone and energy (or lack thereof), but it never drowns out any dialogue or sound effect. For what this sound is designed for, it does the job.
Inside the Episode (HD, 23 Mins.) - This extra is split in half over two discs and is your basic behind the scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews and on set footage that discusses characters, themes, and the story.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 Mins.) - This is also split up on both discs with a few scenes that were left on the cutting room floor for time. Nothing seems to be vital to the overall story here.
Amanda and Steve (HD, 5 Mins.) - This is a funny interview with both Steve Zissis and Amanda Peet as Zissis jokes around while Amanda tries not to laugh.
'Togetherness' is not a comedy series. I repeat, 'Togetherness' is not a comedy series. If you're expecting laughs and smiles, this is not the show for you. While it might have a few moments you will smirk at, this series focuses more on the lives of four people trying to live life and overcome their realistic obstacles with relationships, sex, and work. It's not your normal Hollywood happy feeling, but rather something different where not everything happens the way you hope. The cast and supporting cast is all excellent throughout and there is some fantastic dialogue. The video and audio presentations are both good and the extras are decent enough. This show isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy things that are off the beaten path, than 'Togetherness' comes recommended!