Forget everything you've ever heard about Tori Spelling. OK, maybe not everything.
It's true - her dad was the most successful TV producer of all time
and she did spend a decade playing the virginal "Donna Martin" on his
hit show "Beverly Hills 90210." But on So NoTORIous, we get to meet the
Well, sort of.
Tori plays a fictional version of herself and invites us to tag along as she
deals with her post-90210 life. Tori has a close-knit group of non-showbiz
friends who both encourage and distract her as she slogs through forgettable
parts on TV movies, tries to meet a normal guy and struggles to escape
her sometimes-burdensome family legacy. Co-stars Loni Anderson as Tori's mother.
Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:
So NoTORIous debuted on VH1 on April 2, 2006. It was VH1's first scripted comedy
series. After a critically acclaimed but low-rated first season,
the series was cancelled. Although they list one episode on the packaging as a never-before-
seen DVD-exclusive, "Canadian" did air on the VH1 sister network LOGO on June 1, 2006.
The series starred Tori Spelling as herself, Loni Anderson as Kiki Spelling,
James Carpinello as Pete, Brennan Hesser as Janey, Zachary Quinto as
Sasan, Jeanetta Arnette as Ruthie Rose, Cleo King as Nanny, Joanna Sanchez
as Vilma, Natalija Nogulich as Touca, Brian George as Omid and Ariel Winter
as Little Tori.
Here are the 10 episodes included:
1. Plucky (04/02/06) - On the set of her latest TV movie, Tori develops a crush
on a hunky gaffer, so she throws a party and invites him. But the fete
turns into a fiasco when a few uninvited guests arrive.
2. Whole (04/02/06) - After a bad date, Tori is convinced that her new boyfriend
Scott is weirded out by her. Turns out he's just "whole" -- a zen-like state
afforded him by a group called Wholeness. Tori joins -- but things don't go quite as planned.
3. Accomodating (04/16/06) - Pete's skanky new girlfriend drives Tori crazy, but
Tori's fear of confronation leads her to shack up with Janey, and then with Sasan.
After both moves fall, Tori ends up back at the mansion -- but Kiki proves
less than welcoming.
4. Street (04/09/06) - Tori desperately wants to land the role of a tough
prostitute in a gritty docudrama, but fails to land an audition. So she
decides to tape one and heads to the Pleasure Chest to buy props. After
leaving the store, she realizes that her beloved BlackBerry is missing. Tori wanders
the mean streets of Hollywood trying to find it -- and gets a little bit of street cred.
5. Jealous (04/23/06) - Tori meets Carter, a handsome plastic surgeon, and impulsively
invites him to dinner at the mansion with Kiki. Although Kiki's never paid
much attention to any guy Tori's brought home before, she takes an instant liking
6. Cursed (04/23/06) - Tori is crowned "worst dressed" by a tabloid, she's replaced
on her latest movie, gets a terrible migraine, Mimi La Rue gets worms, and Tori is convinced
she's been cursed! Her friends can't deny that all evidence points to Kiki putting the
"evil eye" on Tori.
7. Soulful (05/14/06) - Luckily, Kiki is away on a cruise in Mexico, so Tori
plans to spend the day with Nanny. But a case of food poisoning sees Kiki home early
and eager to tag along. Tori is horrified -- until wise old Nanny intervenes.
8. Relaxed (04/30/06) - After an argument with her friends, Tori encounters
Farrah Fawcett's masseur, Howard, who has accidentally gotten into the
wrong elevator. Howard offers Tori a free massage and suggests she buy massages for
all of her friends to patch things up. But Tori's gesture backfires: Howard is a total
gossip who passes information from one friend to the next, increasing tension within the group.
9. Charitable (05/07/06) - Inspired by Janey's participation in a mentoring program,
Tori decides to get a "Li'l Sis" of her own. Tori delights in the opportunity
to show Kiki how affectionate and compassionate mothering is done, but soon her
little sis starts running roughshod all over her.
Notable guest stars included Farrah Fawcett as herself in "Plucky," Charo as herself
in "Jealous," and Whoopi Goldberg as Mama Belle in "Cursed."
This two-disc DVD collection includes all 10 episodes from the first and only season.
The cover art features a photo of a portion of Tori Spelling's face and her
pug dog, Mimi La Rue. The color scheme of this set is pink, purple, turquoise,
black and white. On the back of the box, there is a large photo of Tori Spelling
and two smaller ones of the cast from the episodes. There is a synopsis of the set
and a listing of the many special features. The thin cardboard box holds two
slim cases. The slim cases slide out from the right of the
box and feature photos of Tori Spelling (on the street in a broken heel on #1 and painting
her toenails on #2). On the back of the slim cases, there are some pretty detailed
episode summaries and a photo from each episode. There are no original airdates listed.
Episodes appear to be in their production order and not the order that VH1 broadcast
them. There is just black blank space inside the cases. It would have been nice
to see a few more photos or quotes here. The discs feature the show logo
and have the same photo as the respective case it is held in. Disc 1 has
episodes 1-7. Disc 2 has episodes 8-10 and the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are simply designed, attractive and easy to navigate.
They open with a montage of clips from the episodes that leads to the main
menu where more clips are played on the right side of the screen. The theme song is played. That is followed
by some more instrumental music. The total running time of the main menu
is 1:29, and then it loops. All menus have the same color scheme as the rest
of the packaging and feature various photos of the cast. On the left side, there is an
Episodes and Play All option in pink text. When you select Episodes, it takes
you to another menu that has a still photo from that particular episode. You
can choose to play the episode by itself, with the commentary (for the episodes that
have them), or the outtakes. A nice feature of using the Play All button is that the
outtakes for each episode will play after them. At the start of disc 1, there
are some previews for Totally Awesome (VH1 movie) and Flavor of Love Season 1 that you
can skip. There are chapter stops available within the episodes, but there
are no separate menus for scene selections.
Video and Audio Quality:
So NoTORIous was shot in high-definition with two cameras. They really look
outstanding and like mini-movies. The high-definition helps with the many
bright colors they used, and the picture is very crisp. There were many
on location scenes shot around Los Angeles that look great. All episodes
run around 21 1/2 to 22 1/2 minutes in length. There is nothing on the packaging
to indicate that any of the music had to be replaced, but I did hear in the commentaries the
producers say things like they hoped a particular song would be on the DVD.
The episodes appear to be in their production order (the order in which they were made)
and not the order VH1 broadcast them.
The audio is a Dolby Digital English Stereo track. The volume is at a good
level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. There was no laugh track
used and no studio audience. No subtitles are included, but closed captioning
is available for all of the episodes.
Here is the breakdown by disc, including the running times:
1. Plucky (22:33)
2. Whole (21:47)
3. Accommodating (21:46)
4. Street (21:46)
5. Jealous (21:26)
6. Cursed (21:33)
7. Soulful (21:26)
8. Relaxed (21:32)
9. Charitable (22:17)
10. Candian (21:37) *
Note: They list this episode as a never-before-seen DVD-exclusive episode, but
it was aired on the VH1 sister network, LOGO.
You know there are a lot of special features on a set when the running time of
them is almost as much as the episodes themselves. They were obviously planning
on doing a second season, so you have to give Paramount credit for including
so many on this set. There are commentaries on four episodes by Producers Chris Alberghini
and Mike Clessler and Tori Spelling. I found the commentaries pretty interesting
as they talked about the ideas for the shows, the cast, the guest stars, the locations
where they shot scenes at and various other bits of trivia. There is some dead
air sometimes but not that much. Outtakes are included for every episode. They can
be played from the episode menus. The rest of the special features are found
on the second disc. They include cast inteviews, behind the scenes featurettes,
producer's favorite deleted scenes with commentary and previews.
Commentaries by Producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Clessler and Tori Spelling on
"Plucky," "Accomodating," "Street," and "Cursed"
Outtakes - Every episode has them. Many of them are not like the finished
broadcast quality scenes and have a timestamp on them. You can also
see some behind-the-scenes type stuff in them.
"Plucky" (2:02), "Whole" (2:18), "Accomodating" (1:59), "Street" (2:39),
"Jealous" (2:12), "Cursed" (3:38), "Soulful" (1:37), "Relaxed" (1:55), "Charitable" (1:30),
Cast Interviews (46:45) - There is a play all button, or you can play them individually.
Aamer Haleem interviews the cast and crew at various locations. These are
pretty short interviews, but they give you the answers fans would want to know. Most
of them are asked about how they got involved with the project, and they
talk about their character.
Tori Spelling (5:05), Zachery Quinto (4:35), James Carpinello (4:11), Loni Anderson
(6:13), Brennan Hesser (4:13), Cleo King (5:05), Jeanetta Arnette (3:35),
Joanna Sanchez (3:42), Executive Producers Mike Chessler & Chris Alberghini (10:07)
Behind the Scenes (24:20) - There is a play all button, or you can play them individually.
There are short 2-4 minute featurettes on a variety of topics.
A Dog's Life: Mimi La Rue - Tori's pampered pooch. (1:32); Making the Billboard - The photo
sessions for making billboard photos to promote the show. (2:00); Photo Sessions - The cast
taking promo photos. (1:45); Making of a Musical Promo - The making of a promo for VH1. They
also include the enitre promo at the end of it. (4:07); Hair & Make-up - Interviews with
the hair & make-up people. (2:16); A Few Moments with Charo - Special Guest Star Charo is
interviewed. (1:55); Production Meeting - Some information on the making of a typical
episode. (2:20); Production Designer - Charissa Cardenas is interviewed and talks about
how they built the permanent and temporary sets. (2:14); Directory of Photography -
Bill Sheehy shows off some of the high-tech cameras used to film the episodes. (2:19);
Costume Designer - Christina Mongini talks about how she obtained the clothing
and shows them off by cast member in a tour. Even the dog had 6-8 costume changes every episode!
Producer's Favorite Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Clessler and Tori
Spelling - You can't watch these without the commentaries unfortunately. Like the outtakes, most of these scenes
are timestamped and not finished broadcast quality. Available for 6 of the 10 episodes.
"Plucky" (4:00), "Whole" (3:22), "Street" (2:34), "Cursed" (2:45),
"Soulful" (1:55), "Canadian" (2:43)
Previews (8:41) - Previews for the new VH1 movie "Totally Awesome" (2:12),
Beverly Hills 90210/Melrose Place Season 1 (:55), Flavor of Love Complete Unrated
First Season (1:33), Save the Last Dance 2 (2:19), Noah's Arc (1:43)
Overall, this is is a nicely put together set that any fan of Tori Spelling or
the show will be sure to enjoy. I only wish Paramount would give this kind
of deluxe treatment to their classic sitcoms. While the writing of this
show was pretty good (I liked the flashbacks) and they had nice production values, this was
just not my type of sitcom. I've never really been a fan of Tori Spelling, but
I think she has good comedic timing and is a funny physical actress. You have
to give her credit for having a sense of humor and for being able to make fun of herself.
VH1 has had some success with their celeb-reality type shows like Flavor of Love, but
So NoTORIous just never caught on with viewers. I hope they will give
another scripted comedy series a chance in the future. A reality show following Tori Spelling's
real life probably would have been a lot more popular. I can't really recommend
this set as a blind buy, but you can watch an episode or two at
see if you like it. If you like what you see, then you could pick up this set for the
rest of the episodes and the many special features.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/22/06
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