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Six Feet Under: Season 1 (2001)

Cast: Peter Krause
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: HBO Home Video
Genre: Television, Comedy TV, Dysfunctional Families
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: Spanish
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A clan of funeral directors buries people and digs up its own family skeletons in this alternately hilarious and disturbing weekly drama created by American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball and broadcast on HBO, home of the similarly grown-up Sex and the City and The Sopranos. Just as the NBC drama Law & Order always starts with a crime, Six Feet Under begins each episode with a death. In the series premiere, we learn that patriarch Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins) owns and operates a suburban Los Angeles funeral home called Fisher and Sons, although the older of his two boys, Nate Jr. (Peter Krause), has long since flown the coop to Seattle (where he works in a food co-op) to stay far away from his family. On the way to pick Nate up from the airport for a holiday visit in a brand-new hearse, Nathaniel dies in a horrific traffic accident -- providing the first of many corpses Fisher and Sons will bury over the course of the show's first season. As the series progresses, this highly repressed family's problems compete for screen time with the grief of their clients, whose deceased loved ones include a yuppie swindler, a Latino gang member, an innocent toddler, and a couple of old ladies.

As for the family itself, it consists of high-strung widow Ruth (Frances Conroy), who began an affair shortly before her husband's death; uptight younger son David (Michael C. Hall), who gave up law school and the chance to be open about his homosexuality in order to please his father and take over the straight-laced family business; kid sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose), whose experiences with sex and drugs overshadow her intelligence and sensitivity; and the easygoing, sometimes flaky Nate, who decides to move home, help with the funeral parlor, and begin a romance with enigmatic massage therapist Brenda (Rachel Griffiths). In addition to Jenkins, who appears frequently as the ghost, or at least the memory, of Nathaniel Fisher, the supporting cast of Six Feet Under includes Freddy Rodriguez as a restorative artist who loves truly gruesome challenges; Garrison Hershberger as the corporate robber-baron who wants to take over Fisher and Sons; Jeremy Sisto as Brenda's bipolar brother and Nate's nemesis; and Ed Begley Jr., Mathew St. Patrick, and Eric Balfour as the romantic interests of various family members. As soon as it began its 13-episode inaugural season on June 3, 2001, Six Feet Under earned a deafeningly-positive critical reaction matched only by its popularity with the viewers who flock to HBO for its edgy, commercial-free, original programming. Although the show was criticized by some for its shallow political correctness, it earned almost universal praise for its mixture of black humor, offbeat soap-opera theatrics, and mournful beauty. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide

Disc One contains episodes 1-3:

  • Pilot
  • The Will
  • The Foot
Special Features:
  • Commentary track by series creator, writer/director Alan Ball on episode 1
  • Deleted Scene, with commentary, from episode 1
  • Featurette - "Under the Main Titles," Digital Kitchen's creation of the opening titles for Six Feet Under
  • Cast and filmmaker bios

GreenCine Member Ratings

Six Feet Under: Season 1 (Disc 1 of 4) (2001)
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7.91 (204 votes)
Six Feet Under: Season 1 (Disc 2 of 4) (2001)
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8.25 (269 votes)
Six Feet Under: Season 1 (Disc 3 of 4) (2001)
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8.20 (235 votes)
Six Feet Under: Season 1 (Disc 4 of 4) (2001)
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8.32 (232 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Season 1 Disc 1 is a dark and funny appetizer by maritoni July 1, 2003 - 9:52 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I don't have cable so I've been waiting to be able to finally rent this series on DVD. My wait was worth it.

There are so few television shows that really bring an original voice, personality and place. Northern Exposure was one of my favorites and while I can't say this is quite there yet (let me get through the next Disc or two and see how things develop) it does remind me of that quirky yet genuine feeling I get from the characters and place. Wait, where does this take place? Los Angeles? A unique LA anyway...

The format of using a recent client to frame the story for the episode works well, but what it comes down to is a wonderfully tortured and yet loving (even normal) family constantly shadowed by the recently passed patriarch of the family and his chosen line of work. Makes for good and profound comedy and drama.

Plus, the boys and girls are all eye candy, albeit strangely so. Looking forward to Disc 2.

Erratic last three episodes but still a great show by underdog June 20, 2003 - 12:28 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Not quite up to the consistently (amazingly) high standards of the first half of the first season, the show started to run a little bit out of momentum here, BUT it remained one of the best dramas from television-land, and these final three episodes are a must-rent for anyone who watched up to this point. The first episode I found particularly difficult to get through, however -- not that it was lacking in quality at all, but just that it was so relentlessly grim and depressing, without as much humor as is usually found in the show (with the exception of the flower arranging class, a definite highlight). The second episode is a bit easier to take, although still with a very disturbing plot line, but it is the third, the final episode of season one, that makes the rental worthwhile. Directed and written by series creator Alan Ball, it has his distinct stamp of dark humor, fascination with family dysfunction, and carefully nuanced characterizations. At the very end, with Peter Krause looking reverently at all the people in his life, and appreciating what it means to live our lives, while Richard Jenkins (the ghost dad) looking on, too, it's hard not to get both a little misty eyed... and eager to see what happened next, in Season 2.

Dysfunctional family circus, great writing by underdog May 29, 2003 - 11:20 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
As much as a hate to hype something that has already recieved critical acclaim, allow me to jump on the bandwagon championing this series as one of the finest on television. Disc 2 is a particularly great example of why the show deserves kudos, particularly regarding the sharp writing, by series creator Alan Ball and other talents. The 5th episode in particular (2nd one on this disc), directed by Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates is one of the best 50 minutes of TV I've seen in years, funny, touching, multi-layered...and has Alan Ball's "American Beauty"-ish stamp all over it. The closeted gay son struggles to come out, the teenage daughter struggles to improve her relationship with her mother, the other son finds out some interesting secrets in his girlfriend's past when he meets her therapist parents -- it's all great drama and black comedy.

The hardest thing to deal with in this show is the morbid setting, and the opening sequences where you know that someone is going to die. But if you can get past that, and/or if you enjoy morbid humor like I do, then you'll dig (pardon the expression) this show. Great stuff, and thank God for DVD releases, saving those of us who are too broke to get HBO.

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