HTF DVD REVIEW: Soul Food: The Third Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer

    Apr 24, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
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    Soul Food: The Third Season
    Directed by Robert Townsend et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 2002-2003
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Running Time: 993 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
    Subtitles: CC
    MSRP: $ 49.99

    Release Date: February 5, 2008
    Review Date: February 5, 2008

    The Series


    Three sisters living and loving in Chicago form the basis of Showtime’s Soul Food, based on the hit film of 1997. Each of the women have families and jobs that naturally generate dramas both large and small. The drama isn’t usually very compelling, but it’s a steady, stable look at African-American families in the early 21st century.

    The three sisters couldn’t be more different. Teri Joseph (Nicole Ari Parker) is a highly driven lawyer brought back to her old law firm in a supervisory capacity at the start of season three. She begins anew a serious relationship with sports agent and previous lover Damon Carter (Boris Kodjoe) early in the season. Tracy “Bird” Van Adams (Malinda Williams), the feistiest of the three sisters, has a hair salon and a loving but forceful ex-con husband in Lem (Darrin Dewitt Henson). Maxine Chadway (Vanessa Williams) is in the midst of a separation from husband Kenny (Rockmond Dunbar) who’s anxious for them to reunite. The problems both large and small that these six people encounter form the basis of the episodes.

    Most of the dramas revolve around work-related issues: Teri trying to please the upper level partners at the law firm with her legal maneuvers, Lem trying to set himself up in business ventures of his own instead of working at Kenny’s towing business, Bird expanding her enterprises away from the hair salon by going into television. Maxine’s son Ahmad (Aaron Meeks) is the most visible of the supporting characters; in fact, when he’s on-screen, he often (but not always) narrates his segments (a device I don’t particularly find effective or original). Ahmad, however, plays a vital role in the set’s most gripping episode “Child Safety” when he witnesses a drug shooting and then must be hidden from the crime boss intent on cleaning up the mess by eliminating the one witness to the crime. The genuine family devotion and concern that surfaces during this very tense and compelling episode brings out the best that Soul Food has to offer.

    Some of the writing, on the other hand, just isn’t very good. The second group of ten episodes (included here as part of the third season but actually representing the fourth season of the show telecast eight months after the first ten episodes in this set) are much more melodramatic in nature than the first ten. Included among these are Bird’s being stalked by a former high school algebra teacher, Damon struggling with his alcoholism, Maxine trying to help an unwed mother trying to get off cocaine by taking a urine test for her, Ahmad experiencing the onset of puberty, and Bird experimenting with lesbianism.

    A few high profile guest stars turned up during the episodes contained in this box set: Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway as the head of Teri‘s law firm, Oscar nominee Terrence Howard in a couple of high profile episodes as a fiery pro basketball player, Tony-winner Diahann Carroll as the sisters’ tempestuous aunt, and Emmy-winner Rip Torn as a high powered legal client.

    Here’s the listing of the twenty episodes contained in this set:

    1 - Tonight at Noon
    2 - Ultimate Power
    3 - Past Imperfect
    4 - Out with the Old
    5 - Empty Spaces
    6 - Stranger Than Fiction
    7 - Child Safety
    8 - Let’s Do It Again
    9 - Big Dreams in Small Spaces
    10 - Emotional Collateral
    11 - All Together Alone
    12 - Life 101
    13 - The New Math
    14 - Truth’s Consequences
    15 - Shades of Grey
    16 - My Brother’s Keeper
    17 - Attracting Opposites
    18 - Sacrifice Fly
    19 - Nobody’s Child
    20 - Falling from Grace

    Video Quality


    The show’s 1.33:1 aspect ratio is presented in a sharp, colorful DVD transfer. Naturally, with no anamorphic enhancement, aliasing is a major problem throughout, but otherwise, the show looks good with rich color and true flesh tones. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.

    Audio Quality


    The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track is front centered though the rap beats and other music styles give a little heft to the mix and get spread to the rears to reasonably good effect.

    Special Features


    Other than previews for Girlfriends and Jericho on DVD, there are no bonus features included with this set.

    In Conclusion

    3/5 (not an average)

    As a cable offering, Soul Food is adult in language and sexual situations. The writing and acting is variable in quality never rising to greatness nor sinking into torpor. It’s an average drama than fans will surely be happy to see on DVD.

    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC


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