Gravity Falls: The Complete Series Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: A 'Strange and Wondrous' TV Show

Highly recommend for fans and for those curious to learn about this marvelous series because both the show and the Blu-ray presentation are of such high quality.
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Described by creator Alex Hirsh as a cross between The X-Files and The Simpsons (presumably the early seasons back when both shows were great), Gravity Falls is an entertaining animated series that deals in science fiction and the supernatural. The two-season, 40-episode series is set in the town of Gravity Falls, OR where 12-year-old fraternal twins Dipper Pines (Jason Ritter) and sister Mabel (Kristen Schaal) are sent to stay the summer with their great Uncle Stan Pines (Hirsch), whom they call “Grunkle.” He runs the Mystery Shack, an appropriately named tourist trap/gift shop because mysteries abound inside as well as throughout the surrounding area. Shout Factory had released Gravity Falls: The Complete Series, also appropriately named because of the hours of extras the set offers.

The first episode, "Tourist Trapped," does a great job setting the series in motion. It opens in media res with the twins being chased by a monster of some sort. Dipper then goes back to the beginning of the story. While doing a chore in the woods, he finds a mysterious journal with a six-fingered hand and the #3 on the cover. It is filled with “strange and wondrous secrets” about the supernatural goings-on in Gravity Falls. Mabel gets her first boyfriend, who Dipper believes is a zombie, but the truth is even stranger. The siblings work together in order to defeat the monster, and as the episode comes to a close, Grunkle Stan reveals a hidden stairwell behind a vending machine. In the credits, there is a cryptogram to be solved.

The show has a fun cast of characters such as Mystery Shack employees Soos (also Hirsch), the 22-year-old handyman who lives with his grandmother, and Wendy (Linda Cardellini), a 15-year-old helper who doesn't do a lot of helping that Dipper has a crush on. The show has as an interesting collection characters, especially the villains. Gideon Gleeful is a phony kid psychic, who has been a thorn in Stan's side. He falls for Mabel, who doesn't return the sentiment, and has Journal #2. Bill Cipher (also Hirsch) is a one-eyed, triangular dream demon whose appearance is reminiscent of the Eye of Providence. Although his presence is pervasive throughout Season One, he is summoned by Gideon in “Dreamscaperers.”

At the end of Season One, the audience sees into Stan's lair and discover he has collected all three journals to activate portals of some kind. As Season Two opens, it is revealed he has been working for 30 years on something and as it progresses quite a bit of back story about Stan is revealed and illuminates why he behaves the way he does. There is also a very good standalone episode, “Little Gift Shop of Horrors,” certainly a nod to The Simpsons' “Treehouse of Horror,” with three different stories. The last one features claymation.

The series concludes with the three-part Weirdmageddon, including the double-length final episode, which focuses on the battle between Bill and his evil forces against the townsfolk, led by the Pines. It was a genius idea to have the show's opening credits altered by Bill. Like the entire series, the conclusion is wildly imaginative and it's touching to see the family members show a great deal of compassion for one another. The show's animation style looks unique and is fluid in its movement.

The Blu-ray has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The colors are vibrant as intended across the spectrum, evident when a gnome vomits a rainbow. Whites are bright and black are inky. The image is clean and free of defect. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is clear and balanced well with the score and effects. The ambiance in the surrounds is minimal.

For bonus features, the DVD set offers all the commentaries from each episode by Hirsch and different members of the cast and crew, but the Blu-ray set an additional disc of HD bonus features that includes:

One Crazy Summer: A Look Back At Gravity Falls (147 min) - A thorough seven-part documentary about creating the series.

The Hirsch Twins (16 min) - Brother and sister Alex & Ariel Hirsch talk about how their lives influenced the show.

Between the Pines (22 min) - A behind-the-scenes special that aired on Disney XD in conjunction with the series finale. Hirsch provides clues to look our for during a series rewatch.

Deleted Scenes (62 min) -Viewers get to watch people in a darkened room watching deleted scenes. It's an odd choice as it's not the best way for viewers to see them.

Shorts, which aired between Season One and Two:

  • Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained (13 min) - “Videos” shot by the kids about local anomalies include: Stan’s Tattoo, The Mail Box, Hide Behind, Candy Monster, The Tooth, Lefty

  • Mabel’s Guide to Life (12 min) - Mabel’s hosted her own show with looks at Art, Dating, Fashion, Stickers, and Colors.

  • Fixin’ It with Soos (5 min) - Two spots for Soos to show off his skills.

  • TV Shorts (5 min) - Two spots with Stan and a TV.

  • Mabel’s Scrapbook (5 min) - Mabel is back for two spots.

Promos

  • Old Man” McGucket’s Conspiracy Corner (6 min) - A puppet version of McGucket introduces 11 promos that aired during a marathon.

  • Creepy Letters From Li’l Gideon (3 min) - Five in all.

  • Soos’ Stan Fiction (4 min) - Three stories told by Soos with paper cut-outs and a Behind the Scenes

  • Pocalypse Preppin’ (4 min) - Puppet McGucket is back with helpful hints.

  • Mystery Shack: Shop at Home with Mr Mystery (13 min) - A Stan puppet does a QVC show to sell products, such as a Jar of Eyeballs, Aztec Calendar, A Fez, Deer Teeth, Mystery Box, UFO on a String, Nacho Necklace, Gag Reel, Diving Helmet,

  • Grunkle Stan’s Lost Mystery Shack Interviews (8 min) - A Stan puppet interviews a bunch of Disney show actors in a bit of forgettable corporate synergy: Tyrel Jackson Williams, Billy Unger, Spencer Boldman, and Kelli Berglund from Lab Rats, Jake Short and Bradley Steven Perry from Mighty Med, Jacob Bertrand, Mekai Curtis, and Cade Sutton from Kirby Buckets, Zendaya from KC Undercover, Joey Bragg and Tenzing N. Trainor from Live and Maddie, Cameron Bryce from Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything.

  • Gravity Paws (6 min) - I saw it but don't understand why fans were combining puppies and the show, but in addition to four videos, there is Behind the Scenes, Gravity Paws Theme Song, and Gravity Falls/Gravity Paws Theme Song Side By Side Comparison

  • Journal 3 Infomercial (1 min)

  • Season 2 San Diego Comic Con Trailer (1 min)

  • Naturally, there are also Easter eggs to discover.

  • There is also a flier for the Gravity Falls: Lost Legends book and a reproduction of the note Dipper receives in the final episode.

Shout Factory's Gravity Falls: The Complete Series is highly recommend for fans and those curious to learn about this marvelous series because both the show and the Blu-ray presentation are of such high quality. It's a shame it had to end, but all good things must, as the saying goes, and Gravity Falls was definitely a good thing.

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