What About Brian, The Complete Series -- DVD review
I miss this show... sort of. Was it the best thing on TV? Far from it. But it was enjoyable, had a really good cast, and provided some decent "that's how life really is" laughs. As I said time and again when I reviewed it, What About Brian had a nice blend of the quirkiness seen on Ed coupled with the "everyone wants to get laid" mentality of Grey's Anatomy. In theory, that's a stupendous combination.
However, over the course of two seasons (I say that loosely because season one only had 5 installments and season two came back with a cut back order of 19), the show never really found its voice and as a result never really found enough viewers. I'm not so sure that saying "fans can rejoice now that the series is on DVD" is the right way to go. I was one of them, but I don't feel the need to re-watch it all again. A few episodes stuck in my mind and those were worth seeing again, but overall only the diehards (did What About Brian have any?) are going to want this set. Fortunately, it offers some great bonuses that will make it worth purchasing for the folks in that minority.
Packaging: Five discs total, and like most new DVD sets, they're bundled together in a slim-casing with those flimsy, clear jewel cases. So don't expect some three inch monstrosity with an elaborate cardboard fold-out containing the discs. Season one's five episodes are on the first disc, while season two and the bonus features are spread across the final four discs.
Picture and Sound: While the series originally aired in standard and hi-def on ABC, we didn't get screwed on the DVD set. All the episodes come 16x9 (1.78), so for those of you with hi-def TV sets feeling the need to see the pores on Barry Watson's chin -- no worries. For the rest of us with crappy old TVs, a letterboxed widescreen is better than full-frame in my book any day. Other than that, pretty standard: Dolby 5.1 surround and subtitles in French and Spanish.
Bonus Features: Not too much, but as I said, big fans of this show will definitely find this stuff worth it. There are some forgettable audio commentaries from writer and director Dana Stevens. No commentaries from the cast which is a big mistake in my book. When it comes to stuff like that, the cast always has something better to say about an episode than whoever wrote it. As far as Stevens goes, she pretty much just talks about the episodes and I was hoping for something a bit more revealing. Little things. Tell me why Brian's last name inexplicably changed from Davis in the first season to O'Hara in season two. I want to know the decisions made behind stuff like that.
Alright, on to the good stuff. First up is the lost episode -- the season one installment that never aired: "What Happens in Vegas." In production, it was labeled S01E06... as in, it was supposed to be the season one finale. Instead, S01E05, "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" became the cliffhanger ending. It picks up right where the season ended. Dave had just found out about Deena's infidelities and Adam had stumbled upon Brian and Marjorie fighting as only people who are in love can fight. I won't spoil it because I do think it's worth watching, but you'll quickly see why it was dropped from the mix and never aired. Most of it is irrelevant and the way season two's premiere addressed the issues (Deena's affair, Nic's pregnancy, Brian's unrequited love for Marjorie) was much better. If anything, it's nice because it's the last time you get to see see Angelo (Raoul Bova) in action.
The other worthwhile bonus is a featurette, "What About Season 3: The Season That Never Was." Now don't get too excited because it's not that revealing, but Dana Stevens once again takes the mic and discusses what their plans for season three would have been. The verdict? More soul-searching for Brian, especially after Stevens revealed that he wouldn't have ended up with Laura. No surprise there. I was disappointed that there was no mention of Marjorie though. She was integral to show at the start, but as the story shifted, her place got lost in the fold. I would have liked to know if there had been any plans to bring her back (as they did in season two) for an arc.
So, if all of that does happen to excite you, then I've got some good news. Make sure you check out our contest page this coming Monday. We'll be giving away five copies of the DVD set to some lucky readers. However, if you're completely bored and just need something to watch this weekend, the set is on store shelves now.