Directed by Gary Harvey et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Running Time: 132 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: May 20, 2008
Review Date: May 23, 2008
Exes & Ohs may be about lesbians, but you certainly won’t mistake it for Showtime’s The L-Word. For one thing, there are no big stars: no Cybil Shepherd, no Marlee Matlin, no Jennifer Beals. For another, the sex scenes are much more conservative, much more toned down on the Logo series. And, Exes & Ohs purports to be a dramatic comedy. It’s true; there is more funny stuff in this than The L-Word which seems far more into angst than laughter. Sadly, though it may be a kind of cross between The L-Word Lite and Sex and the City, it doesn’t make nearly as strong an impression on a first time viewer. The characters are pleasant, but I never felt deeply involved in their stories. Everything seems dramatically and comedicly facile.
Michelle Paradise is the triple threat artist of the project. She created the show, she serves as head writer, and she stars as Jennifer, a Seattle-based documentary filmmaker tentatively back in the dating pool after a nasty break-up with her ex Sienna (Darby Stanchfield). Best friend Sam (Marnie Alton) is the show’s resident flirt, a bartender who’s also dabbling in real estate. The series’ happy “married” couple are Chris (Megan Cavanagh) and Kris (Angela Featherstone) who have left high paying Fortune 500 jobs to begin selling pet supplies and specialty dog items on the internet. Filling out the cast is budding musician Crutch (Heather Matarazzo) and Amy Dudgeon as Emmy Beever who owns and runs the coffee establishment where the gang frequently gathers to check in on each others’ lives (think of it in the same way as Friends’ Central Perk).
In some of the same ways that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw used to talk to the audience in voiceover on Sex and the City, Michelle Paradise at least once an episode breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience stating her “rules” for negotiating oneself through lesbian life. These observations are often meant to be clever and funny, but often they’re intrusions into the story and not all that amusing. Chris and Kris are meant to be lovable in their quirky infatuation with pets (particularly dogs), but they come off more as unlovable eccentrics. Heather Matarazzo’s songs are not particularly funny either, and I’m not sure they’re meant to be. For someone who wants a career in music, she’s not a particularly strong singer or guitarist. So, the burden for the show’s best lines and situations often falls to Marnie Alton’s Sam. Her vivacity, her quick quips and ease in most situations make her a pleasure to watch, and every sequence in which she is featured, particularly one in which she and her father reach something of an understanding while trying to fix leaky plumbing, gives the show its best moments to remember. There’s potential in all these characters to become more interesting, to become people we really care about. For the most part, though, they haven’t gotten to that point yet. Perhaps another couple of seasons will allow the writers to come up with more interesting aspects to these so-far unfulfilling ciphers.
Here are the six episodes from the first season of the show:
1 - There Must Be Rules . . . .
2 - Roads Previously Not Taken
3 - Cutthroat
4 - Love, Money, and a Six Olive Martini
5 - Pole Dancing and Other Forms of Therapy
6 - What Goes Around . . . .
The show’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio is presented here in nonanamorphic letterbox. Even without anamorphic enhancement, the sharpness, color values, and contrast are excellent, but imagine how good the show could look had Paramount gone the extra mile and anamorphically encoded the transfers. What a lost opportunity! Each episode is divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is solid with voices firmly placed in the center channel and music in the right and left fronts. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the audio track, but it gets the job done without any annoying sound artifacts.
All of the bonus features are in nonanamorphic 1.78:1 letterbox except where noted.
There are 6 deleted scenes which can be watched together in one 12 minute chunk or selected individually.
The disc contains interviews with the five principal actresses on the show: Marnie Alton (2 minutes), Megan Cavanaugh (6 minutes), Angela Featherstone (2 ¾ minutes), Heather Matarazzo (2 ½ minutes), and Michelle Paradise (4 ½ minutes). They each talk about their characters’ backstories and how they hope to see them developed. A couple of the ladies talk about their own gayness and how it informs the characters they play.
There are four behind the scenes featurettes: “Gutterball with Chris & Kris” (filmed during a bowling sequence) runs 2 ¾ minutes, “Say Cheese” finds the cast posing for publicity stills in a 1 ¾ minute montage, “Shooting Skeet” shows actress Megan Cavanaugh being taught how to load and fire a rifle for a skeet shooting sequence (2 ¾ minutes), and actress Amy Dudgeon takes us on a 3 minute tour of Beever’s Café.
“Julie Goldman’s Celesbian Interview” was taken from the first season set of The Big Gay Sketch Show's DVD. Comic Goldman does a mock interview with leading actress Michelle Paradise. The segment is in 4:3 and lasts 4 minutes.
Marnie Alton contributes a music video for the song “If I Loved You Any More” which runs for 4 minutes.
The disc presents the fifth entry in Michelle Paradise’s video blog which runs for 4 minutes.
The disc offers previews of other Logo series including Rick & Steve, Noah’s Arc, and The Big Gay Sketch Show - Season 1.
Not a great series but a series with some serious potential, Exes & Ohs features a talented cast of actresses in a set that offers some fun bonus features for fans of the show.