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So NoTORIous - The Complete Series


TITLE: SO NOTORIOUS - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006 (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Color/2006
MSRP: $26.99
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 10 (1 that never aired on VH1)
Running time: Approx. 211 Minutes
Video: Full frame Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Audio Tracks: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned
Special Features:

  • 4 Audio Commentaries by Producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler and Tori Spelling
  • Outtakes
  • Cast Interviews
  • Behind the Scenes featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes with commentary
  • Previews


    Introduction:

    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 real Tori.

    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 to Carter.

    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."


    Packaging:

    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:

    Disc 1
    ---------
    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)

    Disc 2
    ---------
    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.


    Special Features:

    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), "Canadian" (1:24)

    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)


    Final Comments:

    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 TV.com to 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
    Overall: 4.5/5

    -- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/22/06

    To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000GG4Y1O/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

    Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=188191


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