More Boozing and Drugging for the Gallaghers in this unpredictable Season Five

The fifth season of Showtime’s Shameless sees a return to form for the continuing adventures of the Gallaghers. Chicago’s most dysfunctional working-class family, headed by alcoholic Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy), encounter a new enemy in gentrification from outsiders invading their poor South Side neighborhood.

Most shows have accumulated an immense amount of backstory five seasons in and Shameless is no exception as a highly serialized dramedy. What makes it charming and unique to old fans may turn off newcomers. Most tune in for William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum but soon discover the remaining ensemble cast are stellar in their own right. If you have made it this far into Shameless, there is little point getting off the train in season five.

Season five opens up for Frank dealing with the ramifications of his liver transplant from the season four finale. Given a new lease on life, you know it is only a matter of time before booze, drugs and/or criminal trouble will once again catch up with Frank, the father of the Gallagher clan. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) continues her job as a waitress, flirting with her boss played by Dermot Mulroney.

If anything, Fiona is all over the map this season. Once the bedrock of Shameless, her journey between boyfriends looks temporarily over when she falls for a musician. Lip returns from college for the summer, moving from one woman to another, including a fling with his older teacher.

Possibly the most entertaining, continuing story-line of season five is the domestic drama between the Gallaghers’ neighbors, Kev and Veronica. Their happy relationship hits a rocky patch when the realities of caring for young twin babies hits home. In a nice twist, Kev ends up being the far more nurturing parent while Veronica is upset their relationship has been up-ended by the babies. Young teen Debbie Gallagher deals with her first time in a unusual Gallagher way.

It is an entertaining, funny show that ultimately could use tighter editing.

Probably the most serious arc concerns Ian and his burgeoning mental problems. Even his healthy relationship with Mickey doesn’t prevent Ian’s mental problems becoming a serious threat to himself and others. That forces the Gallaghers to finally address it in a drastic manner. Leave it to Shameless to mine touching pathos and heartfelt comedy from Ian’s problems at the same time.

Cameron Monaghan is one of the cast’s unsung heroes as Ian. The show is at its best when approaching serious material like this from a different angle. They’ve explored the limits of intoxication and alcoholism thoroughly in past seasons, it’s time for other things to drive the story.

It seems that Shameless has settled on being a sprawling dramedy steeped in pitch-black humor. Its frank, raw approach to sex and relationships is used for different aims depending on the character. Some of it is definitely serves a purpose but five seasons in, the frequent sex scenes have almost gotten boring and predictable. Shameless chews through plot at a rapid pace, introducing arcs and characters only to dispose of them a few episodes later. It is an entertaining, funny show that ultimately could use tighter editing. Season five is still worth following the chaotic adventures of South Side’s most dysfunctional family.

Movie ★★★★☆

Shameless Seaso Five Blu-ray screen shot 6

For a family that lives such ugly lives, the Gallaghers’ adventures look fantastic in this handsome Blu-ray presentation. Aired originally on Showtime with outstanding production values commensurate with being a premium cable series, the fifth season of Shameless has top-notch video quality. All twelve episodes are slotted on two BD-50s in an impeccable technical transfer by Warner Bros. The 1.78:1 aspect ratio is presented at 1080P resolution. The AVC video encode for each episode typically averages less than 15 Mbps. Those numbers alone imply problems but this is a flawless encode without artifacts.

Clean, sharp, and immaculate are words that come to mind when watching Shameless on Blu-ray. Loaded with outstanding texture and detail, this is crisp imagery made with exacting production standards. The overall color tonality is on the cooler side as Shameless lacks the pumped-up contrast of theatrical fare. Flesh-tones are mildly desaturated, rendering a much more realistic portrayal of people living in Chicago. Perfect black levels most of the time hold up in all but a few scenes. Given a running time over 640 minutes for the entire season, that is practically amazing.

Some of the best, most consistent picture quality on Blu-ray comes from premium cable shows and Shameless proves the trend once again on this set. WB has done a great job with this beautiful Blu-ray presentation.

Video ★★★★★

Shameless comes equipped with a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack which immerses the listener when necessary in the chaos that are the Gallaghers. This is a nicely balanced mix with enough discrete surround effects for a dramedy.

Some rumble is imparted in specific scenes like Lip’s job at a construction site, providing ample amounts of bass on occasion. Some light ambient effects are utilized for crowd scenes like the South Side bars and busier days inside Frank’s dilapidated home. The sound design isn’t quite as detailed or articulate as a theatrical film but certainly provides a nice listening experience in excellent quality.

A 5.1 German dub in Dolby Digital is included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, Spanish, German, and Dutch options. They display in a white font.

Audio ★★★★☆

Since WB has squeezed the entire season on two discs, Shameless Season Five comes in a normal Blu-ray Amaray case enclosed in a cardboard slipcase. A UV digital copy good for the entire season in HDX is included. Unlike some other studios, WB has not abandoned printed episode guides. A small booklet lists the main cast and a synopsis of each episode in a handy guide.

Disc 1

Deleted Scenes (04:39 in HD) – Unaired scenes from episodes 1, 3 and 4 make up this bonus feature.

Disc 2

shameless sex love (15:48 in HD) – This exploration of season five’s romantic relationships includes interviews with the cast and several producers. It is a breezy look at how the primary relationships on the show deal with sex in the context of their relationships. A decent featurette that recaps the ups and downs of several different characters in season five and how they are changing.

Gentrify This!! (04:45 in HD) – The cast discusses the gentrification of the Gallaghers’ poor neighborhood, a running theme in season five.

Deleted Scenes (08:16 in HD) – More unaired scenes from episodes 7-9 and 11-12. Yes, there does happen to be a deleted sex scene in this batch between Kev and Veronica.

Episode Seven Audio Commentary – Bill Macy, Emmy Rossum and writer Nancy Pimental participate in this funny, talkative commentary. It is a relaxed discussion that never gets too serious, everyone sounds like they get along very well. Not the most in-depth or technical commentary but television shows rarely get commentaries from lead actors like this one.

Extras ★★★☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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