TITLE: AMERICAN DREAMS - SEASON ONE EXTENDED MUSIC EDITION
DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004 (Universal Home Video)
color, approx. 18 hours, 14 minutes
Number of Discs: 7
Number of Episodes: 25
Language and Subtitles: English, closed captioned; Spanish and French subtitles
Special Features: 3 different Audio commentaries on 2
episodes from Dick Clark, creator and executive
producer Jonathan Prince and cast members; Back to Bandstand - rare
footage and extraordinary moments from American Bandstand; "My Boyfriend's Back"
music video with Stacie Orrico, Brittany Snow, and Vanessa Lengies; time
capsules for every episode; NBC News Time Capsule documentary with Brian Williams
American Dreams, which won two Emmy Awards in its freshman season, is set
against the memorable, upbeat sounds of the 1960s as it depicts a more innocent
America -- as seen through the youthful Pryor family of Philadelphia as they
brace for cultural turbulence ahead that still resonates in this contemporary era.
16-year-old Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow) pursues her dreams of dancing on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand", allowing the series to showcase performances from today's hottest music artists appearing as 1960's music icons.
American Dreams is brighter, bolder and better than ever. Set to
the irresistible backbeat of the best and biggest hits of the '60s, the first
season is now available in this 7 disc set featuring extended music scenes. All 25
episodes from the premiere season are included and feature incredible extended
performances from some of today's hottest music superstars, inculding Usher,
Ashanti, Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child, and many
more. The set is loaded with over 250 unforgettable rock 'n' roll hits exploding
in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. There are also numerous bonus reatures including
audio commentaries, American Bandstand vintage footage, music video, and much more.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Memorable episodes include the pilot episode, where Meg and Roxanne find themselves
on camera on American Bandstand while JJ questions his desire for a football
scholarship from Notre Dame. The pilot episode was one of the better opening episodes
I've seen of any series, and I was hooked instantly. Sam is welcomed into the
Pryor home, Meg tries to win the affection of teen heartthrob Jimmy Riley, and Helen
attends class at Temple University in "New Frontier." In "Silent Night," Meg and dance partner
Jimmy Riley are voted one of Bandstand's favorite couples and J.J. is accepted
into the University of Notre Dame. I especially liked this episode since
it was set at Christmas time. Beatlemania grips the
Pryor household and J.J's full scholarship from Notre Dame is denied
in "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." The season finale, "City on Fire," was perhaps
the best episode of the first season. Racial tensions begin to flare in North Philly, sparking
a massive riot, and Meg finds herself in the middle of the violence when she visits
Sam at the new store.
The American Bandstand scenes allow young current music stars portray the artists that
originally appeared on the show in the 1960's. Michelle Branch appeared
as Lesley Gore singing "You Don't Own Me" in
"The End of Innocence." Nick Carter appeared as Jay Black of Jay
and the Americans and sang "Come A Little Bit Closer" in "Soldier Boy." Usher portrayed
Marvin Gaye in "Cold Snap" and sang "Can I Get A Witness." Ashanti appears
as Dionne Warwick in "Silent Night" and sings "Walk On By." Vanessa
Carlton portrayed Dusty Springfield and sang "Wishin' and Hopin" in "Heartache."
India.Arie played Nina Simone in "False Start" and sang "Came Ye." Wayne Brady guest starred
as Jackie Wilson in "The One" and sang "Baby Workout." LeeAnn Rimes plays Connie Francis
and sings "Where the Boys Are" in the episode of the same name. B2K appear as The Temptations
in "Secrets and Lies" and sing "My Girl." Third Eye Blind guest star as The Kinks in "Down the Shore"
and sing "All Day and All Night." Other guest stars that appeared as various chracters include Robby Benson as
Professor Witt in several episodes, Dan Butler as Coach Ambrose in serveral episodes, Clifton
Davis as Alvin Lewis in "The Home Front", and Art Garfunkel as Mr. Greenwood in "False Start".
This set has some of the nicer, professional packaging that I've ver seen for
a DVD set. It's first class all the way. There are two digipaks with one holding
four discs and the other containing three discs. The two digipaks have a small half-sized
slip cover to hold them. The slip cover has additional photos on it with details
on the bonus features. The covers feature a photo of Brittany
Snow and a smaller photo of Brittany and Vanessa Lengies dancing on American Bandstand.
The backs of the digipaks feature various cast photos and scenes from the episodes.
The inside of the digipaks have more photos and nice, fairly detailed summaries
of the episodes on each disc. When you take the discs out from the case, there are
blue tinted photos that appear behind the plastic hubs. Each disc has a different
cast member on it and is in a different color. Meg is on red disc 1 which has episodes
1-4, J.J. is pictured on yellow disc 2 with episodes 5-8, Jack and Helen are on
orange disc 3 with episodes 9-12, Roxanne is on purple disc 4 and has episodes 13-16,
Patty is on pink disc 5 with episodes 17-20, Will is on green disc 6 with episodes 21-24, and Sam is on blue disc 7 with episode 25 and the bulk of the bonus features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are well-designed and offer loads of information. The first disc
has previews for Law & Order - Season 14, Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit - Season 5, Law & Order:
Crimintal Intent - Season 3; and Magnum P.I. - Season 1. The main menu screen
features some moving images and clips from the series (sort of similar to the
opening theme) with a portion of the show's theme song "Our Generation" playing
in the background. There are 3 options at the bottom of the screen: Play All,
Episode Index, and Languages. When you pick an episode, there is a colorful sub-menu
that has a still image from the episode, the episode title & original airdate with short
summary, and an option for time capsule notes which gives
about 5 factoids (2 screens of text) from the general time period that the particular episode
is depicting. There is also a "Back to Bandstand Highlights" option for each episode which gives 1-4 minutes of classic footage from the original American Bandstand including Dick Clark interviewing music legends such as The Beach Boys, Lesley Gore, and Marvin Gaye.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality of this set is awesome. The episodes are shot like mini movies with 35mm
film to give them a richer feel and are presented
in Full Frame 1.33:1. The audio is equally outstanding and has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Since there
is so much music in every episode, it sounds so vibrant in this format. The actual episodes appear
to be all unedited, running around 42-44 minutes. The set includes English, Spanish, and French subtitles.
There is extra extended music footage from the American Bandstand scenes that were not seen in the original broadcasts on NBC. This adds
about a minute or so to the episodes. While it is nice to have these extended scenes, it might have been an even
better idea to just have the complete musical sequences as music videos in a separate bonus feature.
There are numerous extras that add value to the set. Each episode has the Time Capsules and
Back to Bandstand options for each episode. The total running time combined of the
Back to Bandstand highlights is around 47 minutes. The 4th disc has a "My Boyfriend's Back" music video on
the set of American Bandstand featuring Stacie Orrico, Brittany Snow, and Vanessa Lengies. The video
runs about 3 minutes, and this song was first available on the American Dreams soundtrack. There is
also a 30-minute documentary hosted by NBC News anchor Brian Williams that takes
you inside the historic events providing the backrdop for the first season of American Dreams including the
assassination of JFK, race riots in Philadelphia, Vietnam War, and the civil rights and youth movements.
Three commentary tracks are available on the pilot episode and on the season finale "City of Fire".
Executive Producer Dick Clark and Creator/Executive Producer are one team; the 2nd team
includes cast members Rachel Boston, Ethan Dampf, Will Estes, Gail O'Grady, Sarah Ramos, and
Tom Verica; and the 3rd team is Vanessa Lengies and Brittany Snow. These commentaries
were very interesting and informative, especially the Clark/Prince tracks as they go into a lot
of behind the scenes details on how the show is made. They discuss how the pilot episode was filmed
in Vancouver, how they used vintage cars and the hair and makeup of the era, the choice of music
in the episodes and how some cast members were picked, and general behind the scenes details on how the show was
produced. The other two tracks by the cast members are interesting to hear, but it's sometimes hard to follow the one with the six cast members as they talk over each other.
I've been a fan of American Dreams since day one. Watching the first season, everybody
seems so young and they grew up so much in the second season. I love the cast, the music,
the storylines, and just the general time period. I know some people like to nitpick
the music choices or other historical inaccuracies, but the show is quality entertainment
that you can watch with your whole family. While this set is a bit on the
pricey side (primarily due to the music licensing issues and there are 3 extra episodes
to make 25 instead of the traditional 22), if you are a fan of the show you will
definitely want to pick up this set. It's a set that not only looks nice as
far as the packaging and the episodes themselves, but it also offers some interesting
bonus features that add to the experience. Look for the 3rd season premiere on NBC on Sunday,
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Video Quality: 4.9/5
Audio Quality: 4.9/5
Special Features: 4.8/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/12/04
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