Incorporated: Season One
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (19th August 2017).
The Show

Who needs to watch a Sci-Fi series on television about the future where large corporations control everything and the world is divided into two lots: the haves (the Green Zone) and the have-nots (the Red Zone) when we have Donald Trump in office? Present day reality looks pretty dim right now and this Matt Damon/Ben Affleck produced series for the Syfy network seems to be a cracked mirror reflecting the current reality. It is the future, 2074 to be precise, and we are in Milwaukee, of all places, and things are not as simple as they appear to be. The climate has been decimated due to weather and climate changes; many countries have gone bankrupt, and in place of government are large multi-national corporations. The well to do live in a spotless world called "The Green Zone", while the rest of the population struggle for survival in what is left of the world, "The Red Zone".

Ben Larson (Sean Teale) is a junior executive at Spiga Biotech, the largest company in the world, but he has a concealed secret identity that is based in "The Red Zone", where his name was Aaron. Ben is married to Laura (Allison Miller), who is the estranged daughter of Ben's boss, Elizabeth (Julia Ormond). No one is who they appear to be in this series; Laura is a successful plastic surgeon, but she too has secrets: she is a cutter, self-mutilating herself at times of stress. Ben at first appearance seems to be an ordinary faithful husband, but in reality he is carrying a torch for his first girlfriend, Elena (Denyse Tontz), who in turn has literally been sold into sexual slavery in order to pay off her father’s debts. Ben is secretly using his connections within the corporation to track down and find Elena, and he has befriended Elena’s brother, Theo, an up and coming cage fighter, that also happens to be gay. Pretty straight forward, right?

Things look pretty bleak in this future setting, and it doesn't matter in which zone you live; in "The Red Zone", there are millions of people that are struggling to get by and life is generally cheap. Entertainment comes in the form of cage fighting in bars, drugs are readily available and come in the form of an asthma inhaler called Blur, and essentially all law and order is non-existent. Meanwhile in "The Green Zone", you may be lucky enough to work for one of the conglomerates, like the Spiga Corporation up there on the 40th floor, but even here, life can be equally as difficult as in "The Red Zone", especially if you are unlucky enough to have an executive send you to the "Quiet Room"; essentially a modified torture chamber that has been soundproofed. You may get to live in an exclusive housing community, but you will need to get permission to procreate, and that is something only given to up and coming executives. Luckily Ben and Laura are celebrating their three year anniversary, and so they have been granted permission to have Laura's IUD extracted. Some characters travel back and forth from one zone to another, usually looking for cheap thrills and illicit opportunities; Ben’s colleague Chad (David Hewlett) is one such character, and he goes to "The Red Zone" to buy some software that will allow him to tap into Ben’s illegal hardware. As the series unravels we get plenty of flashbacks to earlier times showing us Ben’s developing relationship with Elena (but is it really plausible for the main character to carry a torch over his first girlfriend all these years?).

However not all the characters and their stories are as well-developed. I found Theo’s storyline rather tedious, and didn’t really care whether he escaped from poverty or not. Most of the action takes place in the offices of the Spiga Corporation and deals with office politics. There is nothing very exciting about watching a character sitting at a desk and fooling around with on screen graphics, no matter how good the CGI imagery looks. I found myself being annoyed that I had to watch the characters squirm and lie their way through the day, as events occurred that pushed the boundaries of plausibility at times. Ben’s obsession with finding Elena seemed rather desperate and not really worth the inherent risks to home and family; at times it felt like the characters were simply going through the motions of the plot twists that the writers produced for that day. The only character that appeared to be realistic to me was the corporate interrogator, Julian (Dennis Haysbert); the scenes where he interacts with his family and daughter rang true, and his character was the most interesting to me.

Overall this series failed to capture my interest, but Sci-Fi fans will enjoy it for its bleak picture of a dystopian future. The production values were sharp and all aspects of the series looked really good however this genre needs more than soap opera plotting to make it exceptional. I did not feel engaged with the product but nonetheless there is a visual richness that is enjoyable.

This set includes all ten season one episodes split across three discs:

- "Vertical Mobility"
- "Downsizing"
- "Human Resources"
- "Containment"
- "Profit and Loss"
- "Sweating the Assets"
- "Executables"
- "Operational Realignment"
- "Burning Platform"
- "Golden Parachute"

Video

Presented in the show's original broadcast ratio of 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this transfer features excellent imagery and the colors are bright and crisp. Interior photography was visually interesting and the CGI, though frequent, was nonetheless believable.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo. The show features a very good use of audio wrap around, with conversational dialogue being distinct and clear. I enjoyed the creative use of the sound mix when the main character’s brains were being manipulated by the various technology used. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired.

Extras

Paramount has includes a series of featurette, a gag reel, and a series trailer. Below is a closer look.

DISC ONE:

The only extra on this disc is a series trailer (1:40).

DISC TWO:

There are no extras on this disc.

DISC THREE:

The majority of extras are on this disc:

“Crisis defines Characters” featurette (10:57) includes commentary from the cast and the head producer regarding their characters and the challenges facing them.

“Good and Bad Future” featurette (2:25) is a look at the technology featured in the series, not featuring a lot of depth, but a cursory overview.

“Have vs Have Nots” featurette (2:27) explores the differences between the people that populate “The Red Zone” and “The Green Zone.” Once again nothing that you wouldn’t know from watching the show.

“Secret and Lies” featurette (2:54) a look into characters hidden agendas. Nothing truly revealed.

The final extra is a gag reel (3:39) the hilarity continues as the cast repeatedly flubs line, make faces at the camera and generally act foolish.

Packaging

Packaged in a 3-disc keep case, first pressings include a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

This Sci-Fi network series was cancelled after its first season, but fans of the genre should enjoy it, easily digested without a heavy handed message in its telling. It's an interesting idea that starts out slowly, but develops into something more by the conclusion of the series.

The Show: B- Video: A Audio: A Extras: B Overall: B-

 


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