The dysfunctional family story arc is nothing new to us on television. Most of these dysfunctional family television series usually show a family that is fairly redeemable in most aspects, but they have one or two vices to make their lives better or their family's life better in the long run. No matter if it's selling drugs to support your family, having affairs with almost anyone that walks by, drinking enough whisky to fill a swimming pool, or having a severe drug problem while you cope with a family and good job, most of these stories and characters do it for a good cause or have a certain goal they want to accomplish.
That's not entirely the point or case with the Gallagher clan or specifically Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) in the hit Showtime show 'Shameless', which now has five seasons under its belt. There is really no low Frank won't sink to in order to enable his high on drugs or alcohol. He will sell his own kids, family, and friends to anyone to get a quick fix, buck, or beer, and never think twice or really remember what happened from one day to the next.
Throughout the past seasons, we've seen this behavior consistently, however, the show has a certain charm and wit, so we can't help but root for him. At least all of his kids are all redeemable and at least care about other people other then only themselves. As each season has passed, it seems that the creators and writers want to add more dramatic moments, instead of keeping it strictly a dark comedy, as this fifth season surely does have. If you're new to the show, then you might have a hard time laughing at anything the characters get themselves into, as most of the activities are down right deplorable and well - shameless.
Frank in this season has seemed to recover from his liver transplant surgery, so his alcohol intake has basically come to a screeching halt, which allows him to have a secret lab in Shelia's (Joan Cusack) basement, where he's making something that will "change the world". Fiona is working her diner restaurant job, while still having the same sex and romance issues with almost any guy that comes her way, including her older boss and a new musician that enters her life and becomes more than just a casual couple. Meanwhile, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is home from college from the summer, working a grueling manual labor job, which makes him think he is destined for something better.
Veronica and Kevin (Shanola Hampton and Steve Howey) are dealing with their newborn twins, where Kev turns out to be the better parent. Carl (Ethan Cutosky) tries to find his lot in life as a gang member, while Debbie (Emma Kenney) just wants to be loved and have sex. Then there is Ian (Cameron Monaghan), who turns out to be one of the main focal and emotional points of this season, as he has to accept that he is severely bi-polar, which lands him in more trouble than he wants. This hurts his family and his love interest Mickey (Noel Fisher) to the point of no return.
Then there is a new subplot where the scary neighborhood that the Gallaghers live in, is being taken over by fancy realtors and couples, looking to gentrify their neighborhood, which upsets Frank to no end. No matter what each of the characters do, no matter how awful or inexcusable their behavior is, there is always some ounce of hope and redemption for each of them, even Frank in a weird sort of way. However, those ounces of redemption are getting smaller and smaller with each passing season, which makes it more difficult for us to like any of the characters.
Season five of 'Shameless' is still a lot of fun to watch and is very entertaining, but you won't laugh as much here as you have with the past seasons. Still, these twelve episodes leave enough room for improvement and a need for more episodes.
The Blu-ray Vital Disc Stats
'Shameless: Season Five' comes with two 50GB Blu-ray discs and a digital download code. The set is Region A locked from Warner Bros. The set is housed in a hard blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. There is an insert that gives a synopsis of each episode along with character/actor pictures.
'Shameless: The Complete 5th Season' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Like past seasons, the video presentation is top notch. This show is shot digitally, but has that very rough look to it, keeping the visual quality much like the characters and story arcs here. The detail is vivid and sharp throughout with great closeups that reveal individual hairs, no matter what bodily fluids they're covered in, makeup blemishes, wounds, and fine textures in the costumes.
Wider shots are also sharp throughout, no matter if it's in a run down bar or outside on the south-side of Chicago. The colors are mostly toned down when inside the Gallagher house or other dank interiors. At other times, colors pop right off screen. Black levels are mostly deep and inky, however during certain nighttime sequences, they tend to bleed. There is some slight noise here and there, but it's nothing to write home about. There are no other issues to complain about here, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a very good lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. The best parts of this mix are when most of the characters are in one room together, which fully immerses you into the center of all their chaos, failures, and success. There is some excellent directionality throughout this season and each sound is prioritized. The sound effects and ambient noises of the city life are robust and lively on a consistent basis. Scenes in a dance club or a heavier action scene packs a punch with bass.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow throughout, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. The music of the show sounds great and always adds to the comedy and overall entertainment value of the series without ever drowning out any other sound. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is wide, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Audio Commentary - Only one episode this season comes with commentary by William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum, and writer/producer Nancy Pimental. The episode is called 'Tell Me You F***ing Need Me' and is the 7th episode in the season. The trio discusses the themes of the episode, how they shot some of the scenes, and some fun anecdotes from the set.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 14 Mins.) - There are a number of short deleted or extended scenes here, all of which are worth watching.
Shameless Sex Love (HD, 16 Mins.) - The cast and crew discuss the relationships and romance of this season.
Gentrify This! (HD, 5 Mins.) - Here is a fun bit on one of the subplots of this season where the Gallagher's neighborhood is becoming the up and coming best place to live.
'Shameless: Season 5' tend to lean more towards the dramatic side of things, rather than the dark comedy we've seen so often in previous seasons. Still, there are funny, charming, and witty moments throughout, and of course some very deplorable and disgraceful scenes that should stick with you for a while. Season five does a good job furthering story lines and leaves you wanting more in the end, which is the goal here. I just hope they can maintain a good balance of dark humor and drama in future seasons. The video and audio presentations are both good, and the few extras are worth watching, although I wish there was more to choose from. This comes highly recommended!