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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2005
I for one would like to know how to go about getting a job on a TV Network in the USA. Obviously you don't need any kind of quality control credentials. You just cancel what you like when you like!
Harsh Realm is a show that was cancelled before it was ever given a chance to shine, and while there are are a few duff episodes, on the whole it is an excellent slice of TV Sci-Fi. The computer program/alternate universe theme is always a good one and Scott Bairstow plays his role well. Although the stand-out character in my opinion is D B Sweeney's Pinocchio. Cynical to a fault, while always entertaining.
Yes, the show is a bit underdeveloped, but with less than half a normal season of episodes thats only to be expected. And it does get very good towards the end of the season.
Highly recommended. Harsh Realm is dfinitely worth buying. And considering how unlikely it was that UK viewers would ever get to watch it, you can savour it all the more. Buy it. You never know, maybe if enough are sold then we might get more never-seen gems!!
We can hope!
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Some unusal concepts here, think it woudl have blossomed if it had been given a chance. Glad I managed to get aheold of these dvd's. This show is rarely shown in reruns,
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on 12 December 2005
I was initially put off by some of the negative feedback this DVD had been given, however finally I bit the bullet and gave it a go. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, by the end of the series, it really had left me wanting more. It certainly should have been allowed to continue and didn't deserve to be cancelled, and you are left with the strong impression that this was a show just finding it's feet - the episodes move from strength to strength, and I am certainly pleased that I took a chance and bought this one, it now has a proud home amongst my collection. Had it not been cancelled, I think it would have become a hit show, and it's a shame that it will never achieve the success it (in my opinion) so richly deserves.
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on 12 June 2017
Harsh Realm: The Complete Series [DVD]
Scott Bairstow
Sold by: musicMagpie
£0.84 + £1.26 P+P

First off - no complaints about the seller or the physicality of the product. both fine.

This review relates solely to the show.

#### difficult to say if there will be any spoilers in this review #### but mostly because there is chuff all to spoil. Addendum. Having just finished writing this there will be some spoilers for those (like me) dim-witted enough to watch this dreck.

The premise - as far as I can tell, and I'm not au fait with the comic books or whatever label they have, but this was allegedly inspired by one. However, according to the 'extras' one of the creators explicitly says that it is nothing like the comics and the only thing they kept was the title and a few names. That said they'd've been better off sticking to the comics by the sound of it as the plot for this series is confused and confusing. (perhaps i'm not mentally adept enough to appreciate it's subtleties). On the one hand all the soldiers of an elite team have systematically been 'sent in' to assassinate Santiago (apologies if the spelling is off) a mad despot - are there any other kind? who is brutally taking over the united states in a virtual reality terrorist sim created by the army. So why not just pull the plug on the game? seemingly because Santiago is a bad man in the real world who must be stopped but no one can find him. Really??? with all the 'INTEL' the dark forces allege to have? Seemingly the only place he can be more easily found and thus murdered (choose your own conscious soothing euphemism - me I have no problem with murdering tyrants - that is murdering them.. not tyrants who murder). is in the 'realm'. OK so send in, one by one, an elite team. oh yeah who all volunteer for this mission knowing that because of a glitch - if they die in there they die in the real world too. PLUS it's a one way trip unless they succeed in topping Santiago.
Here are the lines of the story that don't add up.
why not send in the team all at once instead of one at a time?
How come the US military can't get there volunteers out YET Santiago can seemingly come and go at will.
How come the US military can't get there volunteers out YET some woman - who is part of the US military that sends the soldiers in can also come an go at will FROM A CHAIR ON THE MILITARY BASE. Obviously she is playing the intrigue part and has some plan in mind to become ultimate ruler in the VR game? and possibly after that in the real world although it unclear (like everything else in the show) how the VR sim will translate to real world one day.
There is a shot in the opening titles that shows rows and rows and rows of hospital beds in a warehouse-like setting that implies hundreds, possibly, thousands of people 'plugged in' to the VR and presumably lost. but no mention is made of them. Obviously the military can easily cover up one or two special forces 'lost in action' but hundreds/thousands? come on.
In the very first episode the 'hero' actually comes face to face with his target but does not kill him or even attempt to. in a later episode we have the weak writers device of (out of the blue) Santiago being able to alter his face 'digitally' with what looks like a battery shaver. How convenient. This writers plot device is pathetic as it unravels any story, takes away jeopardy and means that there is no possible way to believe anything and can be disastrous. I'm guessing but i'd say it rarely works convincingly, if at all, and only in the hands of brilliant writers. here it is some 'pretty weak tea dude' - thanks Raj. and despite this is it really believable that finally getting your hands on the target (who incidentally is hooded with a sack) you wouldn't check he was the real deal. After all you are going to kill this guy. wouldn't you want to be sure?
And finally (thank goodness you say), there is the confusion that whilst some of the inhabitants in the 'realm' that you meet are from the real world (how many can that possibly be? 6, 7 8 ? ALL the rest are computer generated. So? So why does the hero care what happens to them? Have we actually reached the point where computer generated characters are deemed to be humans? If so have we not then created life?
Of course not. with all the tech we have now VR beings would not visually stand up to scrutiny. it is currently impossible to programme just one character with the depth of physicality of human. Never mind the seemingly infinite scope of emotions, feelings and thought. Just not possible. THAT is what makes this fiction. But allowing it could be - just for the fiction of the story - if you're an elite soldier would you care if the collateral damage was countless digital sprites?
Speaking of digital there are several times where the heroes are cornered/trapped in dead ends, with no way out. Oh wait, there just happens to be a jump port or glitch where they can escape. Weak tea.
Actually there were some of the in the 'palace' of Santiago. why not just keep jumping in there till you get him?
I must've been mistaken when I said finally earlier because there is one more thing. in one episode the heroes mum is dying. both in the is world and the VR. This always gets me. again it is a 'weak tea' device. and I despise it. except that here it is doubly sinful because the poor lady traverses the worlds and the hero is able to get the timing right and say good bye to his mum and wrap everything neatly. Yeah, only in dreck like this.
Now, 'action packed' Guess again.
Special effects. pisspoor.
Story - gobshite.
Am I surprised it was cancelled? NO
Am I glad it was cancelled - actually yes. it didn't deserve to be taking the place of something that actually might've been entertaining.
Id this harsh judgement? no. Because I have no problem with shows having flaws even in the story. And neither to TV execs. AS LONG AS IT HAS ONE REDEEMING FEATURE. what's that? THAT IT BE ENTERTAINING. Harsh realm failed on so many points but especially that one.

ACID TEST: would I buy again/watch again/ recommend it? NO
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on 20 August 2004
With Harsh Realm, Chris Carter tried to hit off his third television show after "The X-Files" and "MillenniuM" back in 1999. For reasons that were never really explained, the Fox network cancelled the show after only 3 (in words: THREE!!!) aired episodes, because ratings did not seem to be what they had expected (after three episodes, please keep in mind!). So, although nine episodes had been produced, only three had been aired. Of course, this DVD-set contains all the nine produced episodes.
In short, this is what the show is about: Lt.Thomas Hobbes, portrayed by Scott Bairstow, returns from military duty in Sarajevo after rescuing his friend Waters there, asking himself what exactly guides his life. He now lives on a military base with his beautiful fiancé Sophie, played by Samantha Mathis, only to be called to a secret meeting in the middle of the night. There he is told by a general, played by Lance Henriksen, that there actually is a virtual computer simulation created by the US government, which had the purpose of serving as an almost perfect virtual environment for training soldiers and had been obtained through scanning of the real world, so that, in a sense, a true parallel world exists: Harsh Realm, a synthetic world filled with virtual characters in the image of real people in the real world. The problem is that a certain Omar Santiago, played by Terry O'Quinn, has entered Harsh Realm, basically conquered it and now rules part of it as a Hitler-esque General in his very own city complex, Santiago City. This city is shielded from the rest of the realm, so that the people inside can live by his cruel rule of intellectual suppression, yet in material richness and pompous lifestyle, while the world outside is a Mad Max-like postwar wasteland, parts of which Santiago tries to conquer to expand his empire. After several soldiers had been sent into the realm to assassinate Santiago but did not succeed, Hobbes is the next one to be sent, and so he enters the realm. Here he meets another hard-ass soldier, whom he finally finds to be an ally: Mike Pinnochio, played by D.B.Sweeney. He also meets his old friend Waters, played by Max Martini, whom he had saved in Sarajevo, only to find out that he is now Santiago's right hand and husband of his fiancé Sophie, who does not recognize him, and who, in the real world, is told that Hobbes has been killed in action. There also is the mysterious character of Florence, portraied by Rachel Hayward, who is mute, but who can heal a wound inflicted on Hobbes with her bare hands. Where does she get that power from within this game? In the end, Hobbes must accept and deal with his new situation, try to survive, to kill the tyrant Santiago and somehow get back to Sophie or at least to let her know he is still alive. This brings the character Inga Fossa, played by Sarah-Jane Redmont, into action, a mysterious double-agent working for Santiago, but also aiding Hobbes. Also, she knows how to cross between the real world and the realm, so that she is Hobbes' only possibility to reach Sophie outside. To make the drama perfect, in the final shot of the pilot it is revealed that not only Hobbes and some other "real people" exist along the virtual characters in the realm whilst their wired bodies are lying in a secret facility in the real world, but literally thousands of them.....
This plot marked the beginning of an incredible show, which had a greater impact on me with just it's first, and sadly last, nine episodes than any other first nine episodes of any other show ever. The X-Files/Mad Max/military feel is just perfect and gives the whole thing a wonderful post-apocaliptic, pessimistic, yet adventurous and thriller-like feeling, paired with a truly wonderful cast and crew, who supply superb work on par with other Carter productions, right down to the writers and to Mark Snow, again the brilliant composer that he always was. The drama is intense and lets you really dive in and feel with the characters, so that even within the small number of episodes a true bond is created between the characters and the audience, just like it should be. Several mysteries are begun to be explored, but sadly, as said before, the show was surprisingly cancelled, so most of them, as well as the premise of the show, are never solved or explained.
All in all, it is completely idiotic and not at all understandable why this show was cancelled, at least not in my opinion, and also not in Mr Carter's, I guess. But that sadly is what happened, at least in the real world, and is therefore something the fans of the show and of Carter's work have to live with. It is a small miracle that this show ever made it onto DVD, so please do not hesitate to buy and experience it. You will not be disappointed, believe me! Maybe the Fox network will finally realize that this unprecedentedly premature cancellation was a mistake after all!
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on 13 August 2004
This is a must buy for any fans of the X Files. A very dark drama which at times doesn't give you all of the answers, much like the X Files. That is where any comparison with the X Files ends as this is a cracking series in its own right. It has excellent acting throughout and doesn't rely too heavily on effects, which would have been the easy option.
There are no weak episodes and the overall feeling I was left with was one of surprise that such a cracking series only lasted one season before being cancelled.
The extras do not warrant much attention, with the exception of Chris Carter's commentary on the pilot. However, because the series is so good, the lack of extras is a minor quibble.
Give this DVD a try-you might be pleasantly surprised.
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on 20 September 2010
First there was the X-Files, a phenomenon which changed TV forever; than there was Millennium, another masterpiece although criminally undervalued! Chris Carter, creator of those series, is a genius, he is able to create shows that are entertaining, suspenceful, strong, creative and at the same time able to make you question different themes, often without offering answers (answering is left to the viewer)...Harsh Realm, partially inpired by a little known comic series, investigates some of the themes that will make Matrix one of the biggest cinematographic success one year later. The series focuses much, infact, on the topic of reality: what's real and what's not? What makes something real? and so on... HR is the story of lt. Hobbes, who is asked by US Army to enter a virtual reality -Harsh Realm - created by the Army for training purposes. Harsh Realm is a virtual world which reproduces our planet and its citizens perfectly, but there evets take their own turn, which is different from what happens in the real world. Hobbes has to stop Omar Santiago, a soldier and top HR player who has taken absolute power over the virtual world. Soon, Hobbes finds himself allied with a soldier like him and some other peculiar carachters in the virtual world to fight against Santiago, for his life and for an exit from HR. The series is dark, action-packed, well-written and full of sci-fi plots, including some really good stuff creativly speaking and the conspiracy theory themes, beloved by Cater as we all know. Acting was ok too. The fact is that FOX cancelled the show only after 3 episodes (the remaining 6 were shown for the first time on FX), so the series is too short lived and leaves a lot of potentian unexpressed. It is really a pity: this 9 episodes feel like a really promising start for another masterpiece from Chris Carter, but then had no further development and left unfinished. Warned of that unlucky problem, you should watch HR beacuse it is really good stuff. If you loved the other tv shows from Chris Carter, than you HAVE TO watch this!
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on 19 March 2007
Kids got me this for Mother's day. They made me a picnic and I stayed in bed ALL day and watched the whole series! Bliss! Couldn't sleep last night though....wonder why!

I thought this had the makings of a really great show and it's a pity it wasn't allowed to carry on. If you want to sit and nitpick for holes and whatever then that's fine, I prefer to just sit back, relax and enjoy when I watch something. I for one thoroughly enjoyed it and it's now going to start doing the rounds with my friends.
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on 4 May 2016
this show is amazing and im gutted it got axed before it could become a classic like x-files (by the same creator and writer so its a shame they had to let this end before it was concluded) only watch this if you dont mind a show that ebrubtly ends, the shows really good and there was one episode that kind of counts as a sort of ending (second to last one i belive) so if a fan of this show wanted to they could re-edit that episode and make it the final episode (just an idea i nearly did it myself but knew i would never do it justic) its a pretty cool premise for a show and i really enjoyed every episode, even if it just had 6 more episodes and then a final season finaly i would be happy but as it stands its a show that just abrubtly ends, so this dvd is only for any hardcore fans of collecting and seeing all material by Chris Carter, thankfully the other two cancelled shows millennium and the lone gunman got a ending for them but alas this one didnt, anyway its still worth watching
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on 30 July 2014
very slow. got bored and ended up playing candy crush on my phone.
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