New to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, it’s the Showtime series Shameless: The Complete Fifth Season. William H. Macy stars once again as Frank, head of the notoriously dysfunctional Gallagher family. This season finds Frank recovering from a liver transplant while working on brewing a super-strong beer in a homemade still in the basement. The 12 season five episodes are contained on two BD discs, with Digital HD downloads accompanying the release.
Fans of the series will no doubt be quick to add The Complete Fifth Season to their collection. Anyone looking to catch up before the premiere of the sixth season better hurry. The new season begins on Showtime on January 10, 2016. As such, this kind of release arrives essentially presold. For the uninitiated, obviously this is not the place to begin. Just be forewarned, if you get hooked on the funny, emotionally-involving first couple of seasons, know that inspiration is running decidedly low by this fifth season.
What started out as a mostly savagely funny series with moments of piercing honesty and deep insights has evolved into something approaching self-parody. In fact, the decline apparent in this fifth season is a case study in why more television production teams ought to have an end game in mind. Of course, if viewership is still strong then the show usually goes on, which is the situation here. The darkly comic side of Shameless has largely been chiseled away, making more room for soapy melodrama, i.e. Debbie’s (Emma Kenney) pregnancy, Fiona’s (Emmy Rossum) love life, Ian’s (Cameron Monaghan) bipolar disorder. The show has always had a realistically depressing streak as it looked at this lower-end working class family. But despite some zaniness (far too shrill, often involving Frank’s schemes), you just might find the glumness overwhelming.
Warner’s Blu-ray boasts typically outstanding 1080p high definition transfers and first-rate DTS-HD 5.1 mixes. Special features are limited, but you’ll find deleted scenes on disc one (about five minutes worth). Disc two is a bit more generous, with more deleted scenes (eight minutes), 15 minutes of interviews (“Shameless Sex Love”), commentary on the one episode directed by William H. Macy (“Tell Me You F***ing Need Me”), and the short featurette “Gentrify This!” (which focuses on the gentrification of the Gallaghers’ neighborhood).