Cast: Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Phil Burke
Release Date: Now Available On Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 9/10
When it premiered in 2011, HELL ON WHEELS was credited for helping to modernize the Western genre. “Imbued with epic sweep”, the series tells the story of post-Civil War America and of Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a soldier who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who have killed his wife. When his journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the railroad, the lavishly-produced series gathers steam, and introduced characters and plotlines that have helped the Western drama become one of AMC’s top-rated series — and underscores just how uncivilized the business of civilization can be.
 The Washington Post
The fourth season of ‘Hell on Wheels’ continues the story of Cullen Bohannon, widower and ex soldier, who has become a known and respected individual in his work on the Union Pacific railroad. While I will avoid going into a great amount of detail regarding later events occurring in the season, the penultimate season begins following the events of season three; Bohannon is now living, albeit temporarily in the Mormon community along with his new wife and their newborn child; while simultaneously dealing with escalating issues concerning him and the Swede, who is also living among the Mormons and falsely claiming the identity of a church elder. After convincing his wife to relocate their family back in the railroad’s home ground, she reluctantly agrees and upon his return Bohannon is forced to start at the bottom of the totem pole, unable to provide even adequate shelter for his new family, and naturally things only get worse as new and old faces return and things escalate in this powerful penultimate season.
The fourth and penultimate season of ‘Hell on Wheels’ continues this phenomenal series along without faltering, only upping the ante on the insanity and taking things drastically further from the focused upon community than the series ever has before. It also includes a number of new cast members, many of whom make perfectly fitting additions, most notably Jake Weber who is downright fantastic in his portrayal of John Campbell.
Fans of the series will definitely want to make certain to pick up a copy of the Blu-Ray release to add to their collections. While some may be understandably disappointed to discover this season release doesn’t include the previously included side-slip case or the artwork and episode details usually on the reverse of the interior case’s artwork, it does deliver in many other critical ways. The Blu-Ray release provides gorgeous high definition video and audio presentations in addition to a notable collection of bonus content including behind the scenes footage, interviews and more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) making this a must own for the fellow fans.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the show’s original 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio on all of the fourth seasons episodes. The video presentations look fantastic, delivering a rich, vibrant and thoroughly detailed presentation on every episode, complimented by a healthy bitrate. They hold up admirably during even the numerous fast moving and darkly lit sequences, never suffering from any notable faults or resulting in anything occurring on screen to become indiscernible at any point. Entertainment One even upgraded from the standard three-disc sets of previous years to a four-disc set for season four, therefore accommodating the three additional episodes in this season (previous seasons had 10) and not letting the bitrate suffer as a result. Overall, these are impressive high definition video presentations that should easily satisfy fellow fans of the series.
The Blu-Ray release features both lossless 5.1 and 2.0 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on all 13 Season Four episodes. I as usual opted to watch with the lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtracks utilized and they sound fantastic, delivering a clean, discrete and often highly active audio presentation on each episode. All five available channels are regularly utilized to surround the viewer with the series’ beautiful score in addition to any number of action related auditory elements, including (but certainly not limited to) bullets and debris from explosions whizzing past and plenty more, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become negatively affected or rendered inaudible. Overall, these are top notch 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtracks that should not disappoint.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season’ includes a number of nice bonus goodies, all of which can be found on the fourth disc. Included on the release are 14 episode specific ‘Inside Hell on Wheels Featurettes’ that take you behind the scenes of bringing each episode to life (running approximately 65 minutes in length altogether), in addition to a couple of short Featurettes that explore the fourth season and summarize its new characters, these include: ‘A Look at Season 4’ (running approximately 3 minutes in length) and ‘The New Characters of Season 4’ (approximately 3 minutes). Also included are two ‘On the Set’ videos which basically consist of short interviews with the actors discussing their role, these include ‘On the Set with Colm Meaney’ (1 minute) and ‘On the Set with Jake Weber’ (also 1 minute). Lastly we are treated to a ‘Cheyenne Set Tour’ (4 minutes) and an ‘Anson Mount Retrospective’ (2 minutes).