Directed by Sheldon Epps et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 523 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: February 12, 2008
Review Date: February 12, 2008
Four single ladies living and loving in the big city: sounds like Sex and the City, doesn’t it? Nope, it’s Girlfriends, a mainstay on UPN/CW for the last eight years. Executive produced by Kelsey Grammer, one might hope for some of the zany wit and wisdom of Frasier, but I must have missed it if it was there. Instead, it’s a brash, loud, occasionally funny but oftentimes predictable concoction as we follow the women through many rounds of dating, work, and personal relationships that come and go.
Four African-American women are making their lives in Los Angeles: junior law partner Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), her secretary/assistant Maya (Golden Brooks), realtor Toni (Jill Marie Jones), and super smart but unemployed Lynn (Persia White). Also a junior partner in the law firm is the one regular male cast member William (Reggie Hayes). During the course of the season Maya goes through marital difficulties and the other three ladies and William begin serious romantic relationships: Joan with actor Ellis Carter (Adrian Lester), Toni with white plastic surgeon Todd Garrett (Jason Pace), Lynn with celibate poet Sivad (Saul Williams), and William with the controlling and manipulative Monica (Keesha Sharp). Maya goes through an acrimonious separation and divorce from husband Darnell (Khalil Kain) during the season.
The season is crammed with typical sitcom situations: the women squabble among themselves when they dig too deeply into one another’s business, employers makie life hell for the characters trying to advance up the ladder of success (a new recurring character enters the scene midway through the season in the person of senior law partner Sharon Farley (Anne-Marie Johnson) who gives new meaning to the term “bitch.”). Various boy friend issues (absorbed in career, pushing too hard to please, not pushing hard enough to please) crop up in almost every episode, none of them particularly memorable and none of them especially funny.
The problem I had with Girlfriends from the beginning is that I just didn’t like any of the characters. The actors playing them are doing their jobs and playing what’s written, but for me, these aren’t people I’d want to spend much time with in real life. Their preoccupation with self (Toni in particular), the insufferable in-your-face confrontations that happen all too often (which reach a nadir in the ridiculously uncomfortable two part season finale episodes): none of that made the show much fun for this viewer. But I’ll be the first to admit that the show has run for almost a decade, so someone obviously finds these characters highly entertaining and wants to spend years with them and their assorted problems. It’s just not a show whose episodes I’d ever want to return to in order to revisit.
Here’s the episode breakdown for the four discs in the season three set:
1 - Coming to Terms
2 - Getting Our Act Together
3 - Secrets and Eyes
4 - Star Craving Mad
5 - Don’t Leave Me a Loan
6 - Invasion of the Gold Digger
7 - Blinded by the Lights
8 - Handling Baggage (my favorite episode in the set)
9 - The Mommy Returns
10 - A Little Romance
11 - Santa v. Monica
12 - Take This Poem and Call Me in the Morning
13 - Howdy Partner
14 - Single Mama Drama
15 - Happy Valentine’s Day . . .Baby?
16 - Sex, Lies & Books
17 - A Stiff Good Man Is Easy to Find
18 - Runaway Bridesmaid
19 - The Pact
20 - Where Everyone Knows My Name
21 - Too Much Sharin’
22 - Blood Is Thicker Than Liquor
23 - The Fast Track and the Furious
24 - The Wedding - Part 1
25 - The Wedding - Part 2
The show’s widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio is presented here in a good anamorphic transfer. The widescreen gives the show a richer, more expansive look, and the anamorphic enhancement is a definite plus. The color is good, the image is above average in sharpness, and detail is surprising. There is some minor aliasing and some edge enhancement present as well. Overall, though, it looks very good. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mix is obviously front-centric with the rears used only for some music cues and some spill of audience laughter. As the show is highly verbal, the dialog is firmly entrenched in the center channel. It’s an above average audio track.
The set offers two bonuses, both in 4:3.
“It’s What You Wear That Counts” is a 17-minute featurette with costume designer Stacey Beverly discussing her choices for wardrobe for the four primary ladies of the cast and how she works individually with each star to accommodate what each lady wants from the costumes selected.
“Here Comes the Bride: An Invitation Inside ‘The Wedding’” is a 20½-minute discussion by the producer of the series and her husband who directed the two part season finale episodes on all of the changes made for the filming of this deviation from the series (going from a four-camera format to a single camera, a more serious tone and dealing with serious issues like alcoholism and AIDS with comedy put on the back burner) which they felt were highly successful.
Girlfriends has an avid fan base who will undoubtedly revel in this third season of episodes and anxiously anticipate the release for the fourth season. They should be pleased with the quality of the transfers and the two generous bonus featurettes which allow some backstage glimpses on the making of the series.