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Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season

Bill Paxton , Jeanne Tripplehorn , Adam Davidson , Daniel Attias    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season + Big Love: Season 4 (DVD) + Big Love: The Complete Third Season
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There are doses of both good and bad news accompanying this release of the 10 episodes comprising the fifth season of the HBO series Big Love. The bad news is that the fifth season is also the last hurrah for a show that's rarely been anything less than entertaining. But the good news is that cocreators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and their cast and crew are bowing out with one of their strongest outings; at the very least, this season is consistently better than the somewhat haphazard one that preceded it. It's also the least amusing and most serious, as family patriarch Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn as Barb, Chloë Sevigny as Nicki, and Ginnifer Goodwin as Margene), their kids, and even their friends and business associates face their sternest trials yet. Much of that is self-inflicted by the idealistic and stubborn Bill, who, having previously won a seat in the Utah state senate, has decided not only to reveal that his is a family of polygamists (or, as they put it, observers of "the principle of plural marriage") but also to fight a very uphill battle for public acceptance of them and their kind. The consequences are many: since Bill neglected to reveal that little lifestyle tidbit before, many of those who voted for him, including employees at his Home Plus store, feel betrayed; he may be impeached as soon as he takes office; his kids are bullied; the mainstream Mormon church (a.k.a. the LDS, or Latter Day Saints) actively shuns the Henricksons; and archenemy Alby Grant (Matt Ross), Nicki's brother and heir apparent to the late, evil prophet Roman Grant, has revenge on his agenda. Meanwhile, Marge loses her gig pitching products on TV, Barb considers joining a reform sect that opposes polygamy, and Nicki, never a very appealing character in the first place ("spiteful, jealous, and mean" is her own description), becomes nastier than ever. Add to that the specter of jail time for a crime Bill didn't even know he committed, and you're looking at a tower of tribulation that's too tall not to fall.

As always, there is a lot going on here, and while each episode can theoretically stand on its own, newcomers to the series may have a tough time keeping up, at least at first. But it's worth the effort. Big Love is beautifully written, acted (others in the outstanding cast include veterans Bruce Dern, Mary Kay Place, Grace Zabriskie, and Ellen Burstyn), and realized. It will be missed. --Sam Graham

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The only way to end it well Aug. 4 2014
I really liked it. You wonder how this complicated story is going to end but it ends satisfactorily.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 17 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Loved it and very well portrayed and true to life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  200 reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Love for Big Love March 22 2011
By ChaCha - Published on Amazon.com
In a very a parallel way, Sister Wives, a current reality show about a polygamous family presents us with a family who choose to live their lives in the open. Unlike the Hendrickson's however, the patriarch of the family did not run for public office nor have a business that depends on public support.

This final season of Big Love was much better than the cartoonish and improbable episodes from Season 4. It takes a very dramatic turn towards the reality of their lives and there is no longer anything remotely humorous except dead on issues that can no longer be run away from. It's mostly about Senator Bill Hendrickson's refusal to put his religion in the closet. While he has noble intentions, the political, financial and emotional toll it takes on his family is overwhelming. This is also the season of self realization for all three wives, no longer able to do just what's best for their family but to meet their own individual spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth that can no longer be suppressed.

Like many, I sure am sorry this wonderful series has concluded. I can only hope and pray that one day, maybe we'll see Big Love, the Movie (which I'd much rather see than another Sex in the City installment). Big Love you will truly be missed!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faith in the Here & Now Feb. 5 2012
By Stink Eye - Published on Amazon.com
As an atheist I have been thoroughly captivated by this show because of its authentic struggle with fundamentalism and faith. While my own faith is firmly planted in the here and now and has evolved from a Catholic upbringing into one that sees most organized religions as manipulative, superstitious, patriarchal, and hypocritical, "Big Love" struggles with all of these considerations, but digs more deeply into the nature of faith beyond the here and now and surprisingly finds the true relevance of faith in the here and now. (Spoiler) When Paxon's character, Bill Henrickson, finds his own church built upon the principles of pluralistic marriage apart from the cult pedophilia that had characterized the elders set adrift in the Juniper Creek Compound, his gathering sermon recognizes that faith does not rain from above but emerges from our connections with family and friends. This is such a tremendous revelation for him. In this final scene, souls are repaired, covenants are remembered, and a vision of a once forward-looking church reveals itself. While I abhor the idea of polygamy, taking a wider view of history and a view of woman as healers (which is not impossible for an atheist), maybe it takes many wives to tame the irrational, aggressive beasts that are most men. This may be too generous and too slight, such is the dichotomy of the genders blessed and cursed by compassion and cruelty. When Barbara, Bill's wife, assumes the Priesthood and gives Bill his final blessing, his new understanding of faith is sanctified by virtue of the connection he makes with his equal. Nickki and Marj look on as "Sister" wives and in this capacity they humble themselves to wifehood, to the blessing itself, and the connection that has been made between two people who struggled with shifting concepts of church and faith. This humility prepares them for the earthly tolerance it will take to do what they have to do to make their families whole again. Marj connects to the world and Nickki connects to Marj and self-forgiveness, and they both insist on this in the here and now. It is no accident that the series is bookended by The Beach Boys "God Only Knows." This nearly perfect song with its breathtaking melody and invocation--"God only knows where I'd be without you"--begins with young Carl Wilson's vocal. Innocent and dewy-eyed, it opens the first season and characterizes the unraveling of what was possible with the tenets of a blind, wild-hearted faith. When Natalie Maines reprises "God Only Knows" in the finale, the husk of her voice, its wearied experience and certainty eclipse the doubt of Carl Wilson's--her drummer punctuating the verses until a certainty arrives in the famous circle of voices that ends this song and answers: We'd all be quite nowhere without each other. Such a beautiful series.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Season 5 somewhat of a disappointment Dec 20 2011
By jasper1372 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
We have watched this series via Amazon instant video all the way from Season 1 through the season 5 season. We're certainly enjoyed the series....but this final year (season 5) was somewhat of a disappointment. It was very "dark" and while I'm glad we watched it to see how things end....it's not a very satisfying ending season. It's not that I think every TV show needs a happy ending...but there are so many ways the writers could have gone which in my opinion would have been more satisfying and less "dark". While watching season 5 it was like you were forced to carry around a 50 pound cement block while watching....it was heavy, dark and ended up with far to many loose ends for our tastes.
41 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Concluding Season to Series March 21 2011
By carol irvin - Published on Amazon.com
Polygamy works for our lead character Bill. It also works for his three wives and his children. They consider themselves law abiding, family oriented, god centered people. Thus, Bill wants to come out of the shadows and be accepted for what he is, a polygamist. Thus, this final season is primarily a tragedy on Shakespearean levels because he and his family can never be accepted in this country for what they are. This is because even though they live in the most religiously tolerant nation in the world, which also confers the greatest personal freedoms upon its citizens, that county can never allow polygamy to come out of the shadows because it is against our law.

Utah was permitted to enter the union only if it ended the practice. And it is clear why the country insisted on this: it is a nation of laws and too many legal problems are potentially created by polygamy, especially for a modern society which confers equal rights and responsibilities upon its citizens. This practice worked somewhat in an agricultural society centuries ago. It is too much of an anachronism for a post industrial revolution society which has marched off into the digital revolution. Just look at how little educated his entire family is. How are they going to fit into this modern world? He is very rich through most of the show and it is pretty clear all of these children will NOT be going on to college. I can't recall any of these children ever using a computer of any sort. Are they all going to sell washing machines at the family store?

It never occurs to Bill to ask himself how he can expect his store patrons, his senate colleagues, his neighbors and other acquaintances to feel when they see him and his family prospering although they are flagrantly breaking the law. This would certainly occur to even the average mafia don, even though one doesn't think of such a person as sensitive to others' feelings. It would occur to him as a matter of his survival. However, Bill is so caught up in his religious vision that his survival instinct seems deeply tamped down or even turned off.

Bill believes is it possible to bring polygamy out of the shadows and into the full light of both the law and the USA. He couldn't be more wrong. As he keeps fighting to achieve this, one disaster after another befalls his family as other people and factions want to bring them down. Bill Paxton does an extraordinary job with this character. He conveys him as a good and spiritual man, trying to do the right thing by everyone in light of his own religious beliefs. Yet the fact that he can't perceive that this single mindedness enrages others to the point of violence does not deter him. He is myopic beyond belief. It never occurs to him to ask how someone else might react to his paternalistic actions. And this is his fatal, Shakespearean flaw.

The three wives come off very well in this final season too. They have always had clearer vision than Bill about their effect on other people. However, they support him in his beliefs and share his overall faith. There is no question that they are capable of enduring and most likely will always endure together.

On an ironic note, early in this season we see Bill and his family still trying to make the casino with the Indians work. Ultimately, Bill and his family are too much for even the Indians. These are the same Indians who live on reservations, run gambling casinos, inhale crystal meth, have serious alcohol problems, etc., etc., Yes, the Indians are different from us but they don't seem to be on a different planet like Bill and his family seem to be. (The Indians also act within the law with what they are trying to achieve overall with their casinos so the government is not against them per se.)

I felt the show very satisfactorily concluded. It was a good point to conclude it as well as there was not much more to be done dramatically with this family without making it into a soap opera. There is something to learn from Bill's fatal flaw: no matter what one's personal religious beliefs, one cannot put blinders on to what is happening to the people in the larger community of man. To do so is to utimately welcome chaos into your life.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW Feb. 19 2013
By Amber, picky book lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
WTH!! I couldn't believe how it ended. I love this series, i began watching it when it first came out and then we didn't get HBO and more so I had to buy the DVD's. LOVED it, i will watch the whole series over and over again.
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