American TV enjoyed something of a cultural revolution at the turn of the millennium. Along with the likes of The Sopranos, The West Wing and 24, Six Feet Under's five seasons showcase a time when TV dramas began to rival those found on the big screen in terms of scope, production, script-writing, acting and directing standards, redefining the possibilities open to television series (and it would be rude to leave out the incredible work and achievements of SFU's make-up department). Conceived by American Beauty writer Alan Ball, the five hard-hitting seasons of Six Feet Under chronicle the lives of the dysfunctional Fisher family and its undertaking business run from its funeral home. Every character is spotlessly observed and grows with the seasons, and as a viewer you feel you learn about life (and death) along with them and their experiences. Such is the power of the script that you never feel it's just some kind of horrible pseudo-philosophical psychobabble being spouted - Six Feet Under truly makes you think about things that you'd rather you didn't have to.
Equal parts black comedy and maudlin sentimentality, as a rule each episode begins with a (usually highly imaginative) death that brings business the Fishers' way and often relevance to their own lives. The show, naturally, presents the viewer with issues of mortality and grief, but casts a much wider thematic net, incorporating the sexuality, growing pains and mental and physical illnesses of the main and supporting characters. To go into more detail would be to spoil the well-crafted plot development and twists for those coming into this DVD release dry. Suffice it to say, the majority of the human spectrum is captured perfectly and imaginatively. Some scenes and storylines are genuinely uncomfortable to watch, but in a necessary way.
From the pilot to the haunting, show-stopping (quite literally, obviously) finale, the series maintained an incredibly high standard throughout its 64-episode run. Such was the impact of the first two seasons, the following couple struggled to live up to their impeccable standards in the eyes of some, but never did it become anything less than compelling, and by the time it reached the final season, it was once again every inch as good as those early episodes.
The show enjoyed a timely death, bowing out in style, producing one of the most memorable and emotive closures in television's history. A painful death for fans to cope with, sure, but it left a beautiful corpse, as the saying goes. It will never return from the grave, but if there's any justice, this tour de force will never be allowed to rest in peace. This complete DVD collection gathers each separate DVD box set release and replaces each's outerbox with a black slimline slipcase, placing them together in a sturdy cardboard case, suitably resembling a gravestone.