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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Relationships > Religion > Faith > Drama > Happy Endings – The Complete Second Season (2011 – 2012/Sony DVD Set)/Holy Roller (2009/Image DVD)/Modern Family – The Complete Third Season (2011 – 2012/Fox Blu-ray set)/Note To Self (2012/Image DVD)

Happy Endings – The Complete Second Season (2011 – 2012/Sony DVD Set)/Holy Roller (2009/Image DVD)/Modern Family – The Complete Third Season (2011 – 2012/Fox Blu-ray set)/Note To Self (2012/Image DVD)/Touched By An Angel – The Sixth Season (1999 – 2000/CBS DVD)


Picture: B- (DVDs: C)     Sound: C+ (Angel: C)     Extras: C-/D/C/C-/D     Main Programs: C-/D/C/C-/D



How did the definition of family become so phony in our narrative discourse?  It used to be something that was taken seriously to a great extent and included a sense of respect that was not co-dependent on a forced religious angle and/or a celebration of dysfunction as if that were a good or fun thing.  This all struck me as I watched the following releases.



Surviving its debut season, Happy Endings – The Complete Second Season is about a group of unrelated characters, but yet the scripts and interaction of the characters resemble too much the bad TV family comedies inspired by the overrated Cosby Show, the goofy surrogate family of Friends and deconstruction that made Arrested Development work as well as it did and that this show and Modern Family, which we are also looking at in its The Complete Third Season release, possible.


Unfortunately, everyone is still talking at each other here, saying things people usually do not say or say it the way they talk.  Modern Family has this issue to, but it can more deconstruct directly the tired 1980s family series Family Guy beat them to the punch over years ago, so ahead of its time that it was cancelled then revived.  Yet, here they are surviving, meaning the sitcom is more played out than ever and has limited places to go since 1980s rollback politics do not allow for something mature and smart like All In The Family, despite the fact that South Park proves something like that is still viable.


The result are shows for fans only, but I would like to see how long they’ll stick around.  Endings has 21 trying half-hours over 3 DVDs, while Modern (I cannot believe it is so successful) has 24 half hours over three Blu-rays.  As for extras, both have Deleted Scenes (Family also has Alternate Scenes) and Outtakes/Gag Reel, but Family adds seven featurettes.  They did nothing for me either.


So how about the neo-religious (Neo-Conservative?) angle?  On the one hand, you get lightweight dramas with too much comedy like Holy Roller, which wants to play straight comedies about preachers, while Note To Self wants to get the Tyler Perry market with a serviceable boy-meets-girl story that is as formulaic as anything One Village has sent us.  Are they tired, predictable, lame and bad?  Yes, but they have their little audiences and Note even has Brian McKnight and Clifton Powell on board.  It is just too bad there is not much of anything new here and they both can be condescending.


However, the condescending champion is Touched By An Angel – The Sixth Season which actually seems even angrier, smugger and more condescending than its last awful season.  Again, you can only see this when you watch the season in order, but Roma Downey has less personality than a bottle of Downy fabric softener and Della Reese competes in all 26 hour-long shows to see if she can outdo her co-stars obnoxiousness.  To say this one is for fans only is an understatement, but here it is on DVD.

Extras on Holy and Self include a behind the scenes featurette each, with Holy adding a trailer, text discussion guide, interview and director audio commentary track, while Self adds Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Music Video and Photo Gallery.  Angel has no extras.




The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 22 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Family is the playback champion as expected since it is the only Blu-ray set here, but the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Holy, Self and Happy are much softer than new HD shoots should be, while the 1.33 X 1 on Touched is softer than not because the filmed show was finished on professional analog NTSC videotape, holding back its playback quality.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is on Family should be the sonic playback winner, but the sound mix is far too much towards the front speakers and dialogue too much in the center channel, so the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Holy and Happy, plus lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Self can more than compete.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Angel is down a generation and is the weakest of the lot.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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