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The Outsider Season 01 Main

The Outsider: The First Season Blu-ray Review

Written by R.J. MacReady

Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment


Directed by various
Written by Richard Price (developed for television by), Dennis Lehane  and Jessie Nickson Lopez, based on the novel by Stephen King
2020, Rated TV-MA
Blu-ray released on July 28th, 2020

Ben Mendelsohn as Ralph Anderson
Bill Camp as Howard Salomon
Jeremy Bobb as Alec Pelley
Mare Winningham as Jeannie Anderson
Jason Bateman as Terry Maitland

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Stephen King's popularity has had so many ups and downs over the last forty years – yes, forty – that it's sometimes hard to keep track. Over the past ten, he's had so many projects made from his films that no other writer can even come close to him in terms of volume.

That said, not everything that's been made from his stories has been great. The Under the Dome television show unsuccessfully attempted to stretch one-season of story into three seasons, The Mist show was dead on arrival, and season one of Castle Rock is all style with no substance.

However, the recent Mr. Mercedes series is very solid, as is the 11.22.63 mini-series and season two of Castle Rock.

Where does The Outsider stack up in order of King TV adaptations?

I want to put this out up front – I haven't read the book. I'm not sure I've read any Stephen King book since Under the Dome. It's not that I think he's a parody of himself as some of my friends have suggested, but he doesn't write the same kind of material he used to. I'm not as interested in a woman on the run from her abusive husband as I am in a town that's overrun with vampires, and he seems to have, well, matured as a writer while maybe I haven't matured much as a reader.

That means I went into this blind, with no idea of the storyline.

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The series begins when a man named Terry Maitland – played by Jason Bateman – is arrested for the slaughter of a little boy. Terry's a family man, a little league coach, and seems just as confused as everyone else when he's very publicly arrested at a baseball game he's coaching.

However, the police have video of Terry in bloody clothes, and eyewitnesses that all say they saw Terry with the boy right before he disappeared. Terry denies all of it, making him look all the more guilty, and the case seems open and shut to Detective Ralph Anderson, played by the always-great Ben Mendelsohn. That is, until Terry tells them he was out of town at a conference, and the police find video that proves Terry was at the conference at the same exact time that there is video of Terry hundreds of miles away.

That's the basic setup of the series – How can one man be in two places at one time? – and it's a pretty strong mystery. Does it stick the landing?

I'm happy to say that this series is indeed very good. The mystery deepens the farther you go, and it gets creepier along the way. The resolution of what's going on doesn't feel contrived or hokey, and I'm not going to blow it here in case you haven't read the book either.

The show features strong performances from the whole cast but especially Mendelsohn, Mare Winningham as his wife, and Jason Bateman as Terry. I was surprised to see author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island) as one of the show writers, and a strong stable of mostly-unknown directors deliver some riveting episodes. Jason Bateman himself directs the first two, and from all indications, he's a fine director.

The Outsider: The First Season is ten episodes and fully wraps up the story, so I'm not sure if there are plans for a second season or not. It's nice that either way this is basically one long nine-hour movie full of chills and revelations. Anyone looking for a good mystery with strong horror elements will find this series a welcome diversion.

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Video and Audio:

The series' cinematography is top notch and looks gorgeous. Dark and mysterious when it needs to be with very solid blacks, but clear and colorful at other times.

Presented in DTS-HD MA with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, it sounds great.

It also comes with French Dolby Digital 2.0, and subtitles in English and French.

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Special Features:

Six making-of featurettes are found here, including an interview with Stephen King and an exclusive piece delving into the origins of the monster featured in the show. The "featurettes" are all short, around two minutes apiece, and are for the most part the commercials you might have stumbled on between shows on HBO. Part interviews, part footage from the show. There isn't much meat on the bones of these.

"The Origins" segment is about thirteen-minutes-long and includes more interview footage various creators couple with a lot of footage from the show. It's mildly interesting, but nothing to write home about.

"The Outsider: Inside Episodes” – The cast and producers explore the series in four parts". These run between five and eight minutes in length, and go more in-depth behind the scenes. It's not really as deep as you'd like, but there's a lot less fluff in these than in the other featurettes. They include a lot of interview stuff with players like Jason Bateman, Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, Stephen King and more.

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Movie: Fourandahalfstars Cover
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Video: Grade
Audio: Grade
Features: Grade
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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About The Author
R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer - USA
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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