When Spike rebranded as the Paramount Network in early 2018, expectations were not the highest for the newly-minted network. This move was just the latest attempt at trying to inject life into a channel that has seemingly had an identity crisis since its origins as The Nashville Network all the way back in the eighties. While the network has not had the most consistent slate in the intervening years, it certainly came out swinging with its flagship series Yellowstone. Premiering in the summer of 2018, Yellowstone became an unexpected success in the cable television landscape. While the success could be partly attributed to it stemming from the mind of co-creator Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water), it can almost assuredly trace most of its success to the starpower of Oscar-winner Kevin Costner as the series patriarch John Dutton. The series has only continued to grow in popularity since its premiere, culminating in it being named the most watched show across all of cable upon the conclusion of its third season. Now that this insanely popular season is available to own on Blu-Ray, we intend to take a closer look at what surprises it had in store.
As a note to potential new fans, this review will be kept entirely spoiler-free to preserve the enjoyment of our readers. The series follows the Dutton family, owners of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, which is the largest and most valuable ranch in the United States. When you have a location that is so valuable, you are bound to have a boatload of conflicts to contend with from all angles. Many of these problems are caused by the ranch’s proximity to the neighboring Native reservations, as well as the national park and devious land developers. John is not one to let his land be intruded upon lightly, and he often gets into some prickly situations alongside his mixed-up family. The third season finds the family catching their breath after the rough developments at the end of the sophomore season. It is their hope that they can begin to heal old wounds and move forward stronger than ever in some form of normalcy. While the season begins by lulling you in with a false sense of security, it does not take long at all for the dark developments to rear their ugly head. There are forces both external and inside the family that threaten to burn everything to the ground.
The biggest new threat rolling into town to stir up trouble for the Duttons is Wall Street hot shot Roarke (Josh Holloway, Lost) and CEO Willa Hayes (Karen Pittman). These two are part of a particularly persuasive collective looking to purchase the ranch for a truly shocking amount of money – and they aim to make that happen by any means necessary. Holloway has been looking for somewhere that suits his talent since his iconic turn on Lost, and Yellowstone seems to be tapping into the best version of his style that we have seen in years. It is particularly exciting to see him spar with John’s daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), who continues to be one of the most darkly fascinating parts of the show. This year in particular sees the rift grow between Beth and Jamie (Wes Bentley), whose complicated relationship is rocked as secret after secret is unearthed in the most dramatic fashion. Costner may have been the initial reason many tuned in, but these two are working out some things that keep you glued to the screen. Jamie is on a path to power that has been out of his grasp until now, and Beth is allowed to be more vulnerable when it comes to her feelings for Rip (Cole Hauser).
This season feels like one of the strongest of the run thus far. On one hand, you have characters such as Teeter (Jennifer Landon) and Mia (Eden Brolin) being introduced to the show that add a very interesting wrinkle to various ongoing plot threads. You also have dynamics such as the one between Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Monica (Kelsey Asbille) being drawn into sharper focus to start paying dividends on arcs that have been ongoing from the beginning. This show is objectively very popular, but it is not one that you see discussed with much fervor in online circles. From the outside, the show does not appear to be something that will have you waiting with bated breath week after week. But that is exactly what it does so deftly thanks to the careful plotting and execution of each and every episode. This show about ranching is as thrilling and ruthless as anything you will see from the more buzzy shows on FX. In addition to firing on all cylinders narratively, the production value Yellowstone delivers is truly jaw dropping. The show is incredibly cinematic and adept at delivering some of the most engaging storylines around. It is already your parents favorite show, and it might be time to make it one of yours, too.
Yellowstone: The Complete Third Season arrives on Blu-Ray courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment with a stellar AVC encoded 1080p transfer. This presentation is a step up from the streaming and broadcast versions of the show, which suffer from being overly compressed. The show has a natural color palette that expertly showcases the beautiful vistas on the ranch. There are some impressive instances of vibrant colors popping off the screen, especially in the deep green grass and impossibly blue open skies. Skin tones appear very natural across the entire cast with even the most minor facial details on display. The level of detail in this presentation remains as strong as ever, as all of the subtle aspects of the costumes and production design are razor sharp. Black levels are appropriately deep and give way to a nice amount of detail in shadows. The bright whites do not fall victim to any blooming in this presentation. There are no egregious instances of aliasing or compression artifacts detectable here. This Blu-Ray is simply gorgeous as Paramount continues its winning streak with the series.
This Blu-Ray comes with an engrossing Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track that more than gets the job done. This is not a show with huge action pieces every minute of every episode, but kinetic moments are given the appropriate power in the mix when it counts. There are some standout moments throughout the season that present with a forceful showing in the low end. Environmental sounds are a key aspect of this track as it shows off the natural sounds of the world such as the blowing wind or animal noises. These ambient sounds are precisely placed in the surround channels. Dialogue always comes through crisp and clear without being stepped on by the powerful score or any sound effects. The series music from Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian continues to perfectly set the tone for the story. All instances of music are presented with nice fidelity within the mix. The audio presentation here is fantastic on all levels.
- Behind the Story: Every episode is given an accompanying in-depth featurette which amounts to nearly 1 hour and 15 minutes of material all together. Through these videos you get a closer look at certain characters, an analysis of plot developments, highlights from the episodes and more. These are fun additions that are worthwhile for fans.
- Meaner Than Evil – Making of Yellowstone Season 3: A nearly 42-minute featurette that provides a very in-depth look at the narrative arc of the season, evolving character dynamics, the cowboy life, the future of the show and more. This is surprisingly meaty and worth checking out as a supplement to the show.
- Working the Yellowstone – Director/Stephen Kay: A nearly four-minute conversation with Kay in which he discusses his career, his journey to Yellowstone, working with Taylor Sheridan and more.
- Working the Yellowstone – SFX Supervisor/Garry Elmendorf: A four-minute conversation with Elmendorf in which he discusses creating all of the special effects for the show including some weather effects, weapons, explosives and more.
- Inside Yellowstone Season 3: A nearly five-minute piece that examines how this season is an evolution from the previous seasons, new additions to the cast, big revelations and more.
- Yellowstone – Stories from the Bunkhouse: A collection of ten behind-the-scenes discussions with Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, and Jefferson White that offer an amusing take on each episode. All of these videos together total nearly two hours of fun content that will keep you entertained.
Yellowstone: The Complete Third Season is one of the strongest the show has delivered to date. The show continues to evolve and introduce thrilling new developments while paying off plot threads that have been simmering throughout the series. The cast are all doing pretty outstanding work, and the direction is some of the finest you will see on cable television. Paramount Home Entertainment has delivered a Blu-Ray that offers a jaw-dropping A/V presentation and some surprisingly in-depth special features. If you have already fallen for the first two seasons of the show, there is no reason why your enjoyment would stop now. If you are a newcomer considering jumping in from the beginning, you are also in for something quite gripping. Recommended
Yellowstone: The Complete Third Season is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Paramount Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.