TITLE: RITA ROCKS - THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE
Release Date: April 27, 2010 (A&E Home Video)
Packaging: Amaray movie-style case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: Approx. 7 hours, 10 minutes
Running Time of Features: Aprpox. 4 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed Captioning
Special Features: Music Video "Somebody to Worry About"
Nicole Sullivan ("MADtv") stars as Rita Clemens, an overworked wife, mother, and former lead singer
of a Bangles cover band who has traded in a life of jam sessions and rock clubs for carpools and PTA
meetings. On the verge of a full-blown identiy crisis. Rita struggles to maintain romance
with her husband, Jay (Richard Ruccolo, "Two Guys and a Girl"), juggle the demands of her 9-year-old
daughter, Shannon (Kelly Gould, "Lucky Louie"), and discipline her defiant teenage daughter, Hallie
(Natalie Dreyfuss) and her ever-present boyfriend, Kip (Raviv Ullman, "Phil of the Future"). In
an attempt to reconnect with her youth and with the hopes of putting some spark back in her life,
Rita dusts off her guitar and forms a garage band with Kip, her nosy postal carrier Patty (Tisha Campbell-Martin, "My Wife and Kids," "Martin") and her unemployed neighbor Owen (Ian Gomez).
Rita Rocks: The Complete Season One features all 20 episodes jam-packed onto 3 discs!
Rita Rocks premiered on Lifetime on October 20, 2008. It originally aired on Thursday nights alongside
reruns of Reba before moving to Monday nights. Rita Rocks is produced by Media Rights Capital for Lifetime Television. Stan Zimmerman and James Berg ("Gilmore Girls," "Roseanne"), Jeffrey Hodes and Nastaran Dibai ("Hope & Faith, "According to Jim") are executive producers. Alan Padula ("8 Simple Rules," "Home Improvement") is producer. Zimmerman and Berg are also the creators.
Rita, an overworked wife and mother is in the middle of a full blown identity crisis in the "Pilot." Rita misses a big moment at Shannon’s karate class because of band practice in "Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah-ah." Trying to help nudge Patty’s new relationship with the UPS guy along, Rita ends up complicating it instead in "You Gotta Have Friends." When her guitar string breaks, Rita and Patty end up at a guitar shop where they meet two young musicians who invite them to watch their band play in "Flirting with Disaster." When Rita and Jay lose their sitter for a weekend getaway to Chicago, Hallie tries to prove to her mother she’s mature enough to be left in charge in "Mother's Little Helper." Tired of her daily contributions to the household going unnoticed, Rita gets upset when her girls compliment Jay on the surprise dinner he makes for everyone in "Nobody Does it Better." Rita and Jay’s plan to teach Hallie the value of money backfires when she gets a job in "Take This Job and Shove It." Maz Jobrani appears as Mr. Abir and Mindy Sterling plays
Mrs. Portman, the towel customer.
Rita reveals to Jay’s poker buddies that he cried at the end of "Charlotte's Web” in "The Crying Game." Tony Danza makes a special appearance as Jay's boss. When Hallie becomes increasingly withdrawn, Rita learns that she is being pressured by her friends to have sex in "Under Pressure." When Jay asks Rita to stop volunteering herself for so many things, Rita instead volunteers Jay for a school committee in "Got No Time."
The band finally books a real gig, but Owen's wife Audrey (Lauren Bowles) forbids him from playing in the band because she feels it distracts him from his job hunt in "Love on the Rocks." Jennifer Elise Cox guest
stars as Miss Ricker. When Rita and Patty suspect Kip is cheating on Hallie, they learn that Kip is actually cheating on Rita's band with a younger band in "I Write the Songs." Patty comes to the rescue when a bad cold leaves Rita barely able to get out of bed in "The Girl Is Mine." Rita is surprised when her old friend Cindy (Deborah Gibson) surfaces after finding Rita through a Facebook page Kip creates for the band in "Old Friends."
Jay and Rita find themselves suffering much more than Hallie, who they grounded for sneaking back into the house after having crashed a college party.
Patty tries to convince Rita to let her hunky new personal trainer (special guest, Jessie Pavelka), play some part in the band in "It's My Party."
When Jay's worldly Aunt Mavis (special guest, Mimi Kennedy) comes for a visit, Rita learns that Mavis doesn’t like her and thinks Jay could have done better in "I Can't Make You Love Me." After Rita and Jay dine with Jay's big new client Sam "The Storage King" Bowman (special guest, Stephen Tobolowsky), they learn that Sam has always wanted to have his very own garage band in "Get Off of My Cloud." Rita volunteers for a fundraising event at Shannon’s school and goes head to head with Jennifer (Melissa Peterman), another overachieving mother. Jennifer’s daughter has been excluding Shannon from the lunch table, and Rita begins to get the same “treatment” from Jennifer in "Killer Queen." While everyone around her is making special plans for Valentine’s Day, Rita questions whether her marriage has lost some of its romance when she and Jay decide on an evening of pizza and TV in "What's Love got to Do With It." Rita gets a long awaited and much deserved promotion to manager at Bed & Bath Max in "We Can Work It Out."
All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of over 20 minutes. The band plays quite a few cover and original songs. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the episodes are edited. Here are the episode titles by disc and runtimes:
1. Pilot (20:49)
2. Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah-a (20:43)
3. You Gotta Have Friends (20:40)
4. Flirting with Disaster (20:40)
5. Mother's Little Helper (20:45)
6. Nobody Does it Better (20:39)
7. Take This Job and Shove It (20:29)
Note: Nobody Does it Better actually aired before Mother's Little Helper according to various online episode guides.
8. The Crying Game (20:48)
9. Under Pressure (20:48)
10. Got No Time (20:29)
11. Love on the Rocks (20:49)
12. I Write the Songs (20:41)
13. The Girl is Mine (20:49)
14. Old Friends (20:49)
15. It's My Party (20:49)
16. I Can't Make You Love Me (20:18)
17. Get Off of My Cloud (20:49)
18. Killer Queen (20:49)
19. What's Love Got to Do With It (20:49)
20. We Can Work It Out (20:43)
The 3-disc set contains all 20 episodes from the first (2008-09) season. It comes in an Amaray-movie style case. Nicole Sullivan is on the cover holding a guitar, books, grocery bag and many other items. A photo
of the family plus Tisha Campbell-Martin is on the back of the case. A short summary of the series, the bonus feature and DVD specs are provided. Nicole Sullivan is on the spine of the case. Inside the case,
there is a plastic holder in the center that holds discs 1 and 2. Disc 3 is in an embedded holder in
the back of the case. There is just black space inside the case. Some photos would have been nice to see.
Also, there is no episode guide provided anywhere within the set. Each disc has the same photo of Nicole Sullivan and the show logo. The episode titles are listed on the discs. 6-7 episodes are on each disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu opens with some animated post-it notes featuring silhouetted shots of Rita with the short instrumental opening theme playing in the backround. It leads to a static photo of Nicole Sullivan (the same one used throughout the set but it has the Lifetime logo on the grocery bag). The show logo is at the top of the screen. There are options for "Play All" and "Episodes." When you select "Episodes," it takes
you to a sub-menu where there is a still image from each episode. Some colored post-it notes are in the background. There are orange circles around the episode that you highlight. The "Bonus Music Video"
can be found on disc 3. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no separate scene
Video and Audio Quality:
Episodes are presented in their original full-frame format. They look excellent, although not as
good if they were shot in high definition. This is a multi-camera sitcom that is filmed in front of a studio audience. Most, if not all, of the scenes were shot on sets. I didn't
see any outdoor scenes in the episodes I've watched. The episodes appear to be in their original airdate order, although I noticed that two of the episodes were swapped on disc 1. For the closing logo enthusiasts,
there are logos for Zimmerman/Berg, MRC - Media Rights Capital and Lifetime.
The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. It sounds great and has no problems. There is quite a bit of music in the episodes with the band playing some cover and original songs. Like most sitcoms these days,
the laugh track seems to be sweetened a bit. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes.
There is only one bonus feature included on the set. A music video for "Somebody to Worry About" (4:37)
can be found on disc 3. It is performed by Nicole Sullivan, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Raviv Ullman and Ian Gomez. Kathleen Wilhoite provided the lyrics and music. The video has clips of the cast singing
at a studio combined with various shots from the actual episodes. I'm not sure how well known Nicole Sullivan and Tisha Campbell-Martin are for their singing, but they did a pretty good job here.
Some audio commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes and other bonus material would have been nice to have. With the show not coming back for a third season, maybe they couldn't get everybody back together to shoot anything.
Rita Rocks was Lifetime's first original sitcom in over a decade. This was my first time watching it.
It's a pretty likeable family sitcom. We need more multi-camera family sitcoms these days. I liked Nicole Sullivan on MADtv and The King of Queens, so it was nice to see her in a starring role. Tisha Campbell-Martin was funny on My Wife and Kids and Martin. They are surprisingly good with their singing. Ian Gomez left Rita Rocks after the first season to join ABC's Cougar Town. The overall cast was pretty good, but there wasn't really anything unique about the storylines. If you liked shows such as Reba, Life with Bonnie or According to Jim, you will probably like this one as well.
The set is ok just for the episodes and priced affordably, but it's lacking in the bonus features department. There's only a short music video. Some audio commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes or other extras would have been fun to see. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after two seasons in January due to low ratings so that might explain the lack of extras. I think the show was just airing in too late of a timeslot most of the time after
starting off strongly in earlier time periods. Hopefully fans of the show will get to see the remaining 20 episodes from the second season on DVD at some point. Nicole Sullivan was cast with William Shatner in the CBS sitcom pilot "Sh** My Dad Says" so maybe we'll see her on that in the fall if it gets picked up.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 0.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
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