Early Edition: The First Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Over the years there have been quite a few TV shows where time travel is used to better people’s lives. Usually, that has involved the use of a lot of technobabble and some sort of time machine. Early Edition tried it with a newspaper and an orange cat. And for the most part, it worked.

Gary Hobson is just a regular guy. A regular guy having a rough time. He hates his job, his wife kicks him out with no explanation and he soon finds himself living in a hotel room. Just when he feels his life has hit rock bottom, Gary finds the next day’s newspaper (the Chicago Sun-Times to be exact) and an orange cat at his door.

At first, Gary wants nothing to do with this mysterious paper from the future. His friend, Chuck, thinks Gary should use the paper to make himself unbelievably rich. Gary’s other friend, Marissa, thinks he should be more noble and use the paper to put right what will go wrong. Gary tries to avoid the responsibility that comes with the paper, but to the surprise of no one, Gary soon finds himself trying to avert tragedies.

In most episodes Gary sees a news story he has to avert. While we often see Gary stopping more minor problems, the main plot has Gary trying to stop someone or someone(s) from being seriously injured or killed. Even though the majority of the episodes follow that plot structure, things get changed up frequently enough that the show avoids feeling stale and repetitive.

When he’s not averting things, Gary spends a lot of time trying to discover the origins of the paper and the cat. He figures out pretty quickly that he was not the first person to bear this burden, but for the most part the paper remains shrouded in mystery. Honestly, it’s probably for the best.

For all the complaining Gary does about being stuck with the responsibility of saving lives, the show’s message is a positive one. In the end, Gary, despite a lack of special abilities or talents (super or otherwise) willing gives up chances at personal happiness and risks his life to help out total strangers.

Unfortunately, sometimes the show feels a little too positive. For instance, throughout the season there are times when Gary is faced with ethical dilemmas where Gary only has time to stop one tragedy from occurring. Gary agonizes over the decision but in the end you know that not only will Gary make the “right” decision, but that somehow everything will work out anyway. The show would have been better off if Gary had to deal with remorse over the people he wasn’t able to save.

The show’s humor can be a bit iffy at times. While there are definitely some amusing moments, there are also some eye-rolling ones. Chuck, in particular, tends to get saddled with comedic B plots that are a miss more often than not.

Early Edition is not a perfect show. It is, however, an enjoyable and (at times too) heartwarming show with a different take on the time travel theme. If you are a fan of shows like Quantum Leap or Journeyman, you may want to check this one out.

The video is presented in 1.33:1 and, unfortunately, the quality is mediocre at best. The image isn’t very sharp and the color could use some work. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and it works well.

This DVD set is extremely lacking in special features. There are no commentary tracks, no behind the scenes footage, no deleted scenes, no interview with cast or crew, not even a lousy photo gallery. I can understand CBS not wanting to invest a lot of resources in a DVD release of a relatively obscure TV series from the mid-90s, but surely they could give the fans something.

The only extra included on the disc is episodic promos for each episode. Some of the promos do a pretty good job of hyping the episode, while others give away major plot developments that don’t occur until the last ten to fifteen minutes of the episode. Even in the case of the well done ones, you are better off just going right into the episode.

Early Edition is a good show; it deserves a better DVD release. One with sharper video quality and some actual extras. Still, if you are fan of the series, you’ll probably want to pick this one up and just hope CBS does a better job with season two.

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CBS/Paramount presents Early Edition: The First Season. Created by: Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page, and Vike Rubenfeld. Starring: Kyle Chandler, Shanesia Davis-Williams, and Fisher Stevens. Running time: 1031 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: June 24, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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