For the past five years, HBO has been at the forefront of television's
most compelling, and thought provoking shows numbering such must-sees as
The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex & The City and
Deadwood. Also falling into that hallowed category of not
to be missed television is Six Feet Under.
Created by Academy-Award winner, Alan Ball, who gained prominence
helming American Beauty, Six Feet Under clearly puts the
'dysfunction' into family relationships with a giant exclamation point.
Centering upon the day to day exploits of a family, who also run a
funeral home business,
resonates with a miraculous blend of striking realism, witty black humor
and ghostly surrealism.
episodes found on Six Feet Under
The Complete Three Season
find the show operating in top creative form, with the family in classic
crisis mode. The ensemble cast
showcasing Frances Conroy as matriarch Ruth Fisher, Michael C. Hall as
son David, Peter Krause as eldest son Nate, and Lauren Ambrose as
is perhaps the strongest and most versatile on television.
Starting with season three's premiere episode "Perfect Circles," which
finds Nate precariously hanging on to life after risky brain surgery,
the always spectacular Peter Krause brings an engaging neuroticism and
winning quirkiness to his part. His on-and-off
is also a perfect fit for the series.
the role with a studied playfulness and feral intensity.
First appearing in episode six of season three, "Making Love Work," the
addition of Rainn Wilson (currently co-starring in NBC's The Office)
was a masterstroke in casting. Seldom has a character actor been more
memorable and downright creepy at the same time. Wilson, who portrays
funeral apprentice Arthur Martin, inhabits his role completely, infusing
his role with a combination
child-like innocence and criminally deranged veneer.
however, finds herself fascinated with the weird and peculiar Arthur in
the episode "Timing & Space" where she obsessively stalks him while he's
out jogging. By the following episode, "Tears, Bones & Desire," Ruth
can't control her amorous feelings, repeatedly kissing a surprised
Arthur, who responds with calm, robot-like
apathy. Soon, like most other relationships on Six Feet Under,
their twisted love affair gets tangled quickly leading to disastrous
In a show packed with dozens of subplots, too numerous, complex and
convoluted to explain in detail (you'll just have to buy the DVD to
experience the peccadilloes of the Fisher family) the season's most
engrossing plot line follows the moral and emotional decay of Nate's
relationship with his wife, Lisa
(played by Lili Taylor.)
Feeling obligated to marry Lisa after she'd become pregnant with his
child, Nate is ambivalent at best about the strength and ultimate
longevity of their union, still harboring a crazy and passionate love
Following the trajectory of each episode in season three,
(In "Making Love Work" Lisa and Nate, on a camping trip with their baby,
Maya, attempt to patch up their relationship but the patch soon becomes
unglued) one can surmise that Nate and Lisa's relationship is doomed.
"Twilight," produced by esteemed actress Kathy Bates (also
an occasional guest star on the show) is particularly impressive in this
capturing Nate on the verge of a nervous breakdown over his wife's
mysterious disappearance. Part of him is happy she's finally out of his
life while the other struggles with sublimating his real desires in an
attempt to save his marriage whatever the cost.
Another great hook employed in the show is the clever use of deceased
father, Nathaniel (portrayed by Richard Jenkins), who appears
intermittently throughout the
in a series of hallucinogenic flashbacks and surreal dreams, acting as a
kind of moral compass for the surviving family members.
Nate and David receive the most frequent visitations of their dead Pop
Claire's encounter with her father in the afterlife in season three
final episode "I'm Sorry, I'm Lost" is one of the most arresting and
moments in Six Feet Under lore, a mixture of surprising
sentimentality and pathos.
While often the entire Fisher family seems in dire need of extra heavy
doses of Prozac, the show's dynamic plays up their vulnerabilities and
flaws to great effect; significantly, these all too recognizable human
frailties and foibles help the viewer to forge an instant empathy and
identification with the characters. In many ways, Six Feet Under,
while intelligently written, brilliantly acted and superbly directed,
captivates the viewer like a highly addictive soap opera
albeit one strewn with loads of decaying and mutilated corpses, gallons
of formaldehyde, and dark, depressive humor. Indeed, Six Feet Under
is an acquired taste, but those willing to visit the Fisher Funeral Home
will undeniably fall under its intoxicating spell and keep coming back
for more and more.
Bonus materials include deleted scenes, audio commentary plus a behind
the scenes featurette, "Living On The Ledge: A Bird's Eye View Of The
Third Season" which contains musical accompaniment by Coldplay.
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