Gossip Girl tells the secret she’ll “never tell” in the new DVD collection: Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season. The final season, abbreviated to ten episodes, clearly shows that the series has run its course. What was once a very popular guilty pleasure has become more of a formula exercise as viewers watch the bad behavior of young, wealthy and attractive people on the Upper East Side of New York continue for a final few outings. However, I'll note that the final episode of the series does send things off in high style, answering a long-asked question and allowing the show's fans a nice way to say goodbye. The picture and sound quality continue to accurately present the look and sound of the CW series, and the brief assortment of extras on the final disc offer a nice summation to the whole affair.
the complete sixth and final season
Studio: Warner Bros.
Original Airing: 2012
Length: 10 Episodes (422 minutes)
Genre: Teen Soap Opera
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (@384 kbps)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Unrated (Sexuality, Suggestive Language)
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Starring: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick, and Kaylee DeFer with Kelly Rutherford and Matthew Settle, with narration by Kristen Bell as the voice of Gossip Girl
Executive Producers: Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage
Based Upon the Books by Cecily von Ziegesar
Directed by: Various
Rating: 2 ½
Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season is a 3-disc DVD set encompassing the final partial year of the CW network’s adaptation of Cecily von Ziegesar’s bestselling series of teen soap novels about the romantic ins and outs of upper class young women in New York. I’m admittedly not a fan of the series, but I must again disclose that my roommate has in the past been completely hooked on it. It is a sign of the times and the age of the series that she still hasn’t caught up from somewhere in the fourth season. Where once she would leap to watch the new season’s episodes, her reaction to my working on the review of the final eps was more of a “meh”… The series’ final episodes are, as ever, handsomely produced and recorded on HD media, with appropriately ritzy New York locations and fashions getting a great showcase. The series continues to be a complete soap opera, with many of the same situations repeated to the same effect, as they have for the entire life of the show. As before most of the situations involve attractive young women and their adventures in love. And the young men tend to be there to be appropriately dashing and/or dastardly, with the usual mugging going on to convey that idea. I should note that the original creators of the series – writers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and director Mark Piznarski – have remained onboard throughout, which has helped the show maintain a certain level of continuity going back all the way to episode 1.
SOME SPOILERS: There’s a certain art to crafting the final season of a television series, particularly one that’s been around for 100 episodes or more. And the art gets more specific when we think about what goes into creating the final episode. There’s a wonderful freedom to it, of course. A series finale is not bound by any of the rules that impinge regular episodes. In a final episode, just as with the initial pilot episode, literally anything can happen. There is no requirement that all the characters must survive, or that any of the givens of the series will remain so. On a long-running show, there is always the danger of things becoming stale, as the show’s family continues to rattle around the same sets year after year, and as the viewer knows that little can happen to change things in more than a surface manner. But when that long-running show comes to an end, change can rear its head in a big way. In the case of M*A*S*H, the final episode after eleven seasons was one of the biggest events in television history – stretching to a 2 ½ hour timeslot from the usual thirty minutes and covering the end of the Korean War and the disbanding of the show’s Army medical unit. In the case of The Sopranos, the final scene of the final episode after seven seasons had viewers tied in knots with the realization that it was now quite possible that the main character could be killed. (We won’t get into that sudden blackout bit here…) In the case of Six Feet Under, series creator Alan Ball fashioned a closing montage that had the lives of all the main characters literally flashing before the eyes of one of the main characters, with all their various ends intercut with a young woman’s drive up Interstate 5. On the other hand, St. Elsewhere made one of the more mystifying choices of all time in deciding that the entire reality of the six seasons of the show was likely the fantasy of an autistic child looking at a snow globe. And in a prior review here, I discussed the odd nature of the very end of House, M.D., which was another case of a show going out with a wink and a nod.
MORE SPOILERS, MUCH BIGGER THIS TIME: So how does the ending of Gossip Girl stand up? I’d have to say that it gets points for consistency with the show’s history and approach. It definitely helps that the final episode was written by Stephanie Savage and directed by Mark PIznarski, thus allowing this series to come full circle with the same creative team that wrote and directed the show’s pilot and stayed with it throughout its run. (Four years ago, the reboot of Battlestar Galactica ended its run the same way to a good effect.) The thing with final episodes is that they offer the series a chance to put a period on the basic story it’s been telling for years. With a pilot episode, a series makes an opening statement – a thesis statement in a way – that tells the audience what kind of story is being told here. The final episode then allows a closing statement, restating what the point of all these hours has been, hopefully in a fulfilling manner for everyone. In the case of Gossip Girl, the final episode sees two of the series’ couples married to each other, includes a jump forward in time by several years to establish how their lives will continue, and, crucially, finally answers the one major secret never disclosed by the show up to this time – the identity of the title character. No, it’s not Kristen Bell (the uncredited voice of the various text updates from the character throughout the series), although the show enjoys a fun on-screen cameo with her winking at the camera as the big reveal is happening. It’s actually appropriate that the real identity of “Gossip Girl” be that of someone who was a significant character in the series, but not one of the insiders during all the dishiest moments. And it feels appropriate that this was actually not a girl at all but rather Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley). It’s consistent with his character that he would have been the one to have written and relayed all this material, and it’s consistent with the nature of the various scoops from “Gossip Girl” that they must have come from someone who wasn’t in the “in crowd”. To punctuate this, the series ends with the familiar Kristen Bell narration now accompanying a new generation of attractive young people outside an exclusive prep school as an unnamed young male student walks through the crowd, paid little mind by the various cliques other than perhaps a scornful look or two. The narration now talks about how there will always be a “Gossip Girl” because there will always be someone on the outside wanting to get in. And as we watch the man walk way, the narrator concludes the series with the line: “Who am I now? That’s a secret I’ll never tell.” This is a fairly consistent ending with what the show has been doing for over 120 episodes, and it emphasizes the point that the show has been making since its beginning. If anything, “Gossip Girl” is the one who dishes the dirt about the “in crowd” to everyone else, namely the viewers. Taken to a greater extreme, “Gossip Girl” can be seen as a stand-in for the viewers, enjoying the guilty pleasure of all the characters’ misadventures in love, lust and all points in between. The final episode actually stands out from the rest of the episodes this season and last, because, as shown here, it really does try to do something more interesting than just keep the pilot light on for one more hour.
The DVD set includes all 10 episodes in anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 sound, with some deleted scenes included along the way, along with a pair of retrospective featurettes and a short gag reel. Fans of the series may have already picked up this set. If they haven’t already, given that it was released very quickly after the end of the show, they’ll want to know they can now do so.
VIDEO QUALITY 3/5
Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season is presented in a 1.78:1 Anamorphic transfer that nicely displays the series’ HD photography, just as the earlier seasons did.
AUDIO QUALITY 3/5
Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season is presented in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that lives in the front channels and provides music in the rear channels. This is a perfectly acceptable audio presentation for a running television series.
DISC BY DISC:
As I regularly do with television series sets, I’ll account for what can be found on each disc, in order. To save time, I’ll note here that all episodes and the deleted scenes are presented in anamorphic widescreen, and while the episodes themselves have the 5.1 sound mix, the deleted scenes are presented in 2.0, and are accessed from the episode selection menu.
gone maybe gone – Season Premiere, with the gang looking for Serena, who disappeared at the end of the fifth season finale. And no, they don’t find her in rehab or on skid row. It wouldn’t be Gossip Girl if they did, would it?
dirty roten scoundrels
portrait of a lady alexander – Includes a deleted scene (0:46).
where the vile things are
save the last chance – Includes deleted scenes (1:54).
it’s really complicated
new york, i love you XOXO – The series finale, as aired on December 17, 2012 to an audience that was less than half of what the show enjoyed at its peak but still more than any other episode in the final year.
This disc also includes:
A Big Farewell to Our Upper East Siders (15:04, Anamorphic) – This featurette, initially broadcast along with the series finale as part of a special 2 hour event, includes clips from throughout the series and interview snippets with the major cast members and showrunners.
Gossip Girl Series Retrospective (31:37, Anamorphic) – This featurette, also broadcast along with the series finale, goes into greater depth about the work that went into the series, including filming in New York City and, inevitably, the work of the wardrobe department as showcased throughout six seasons.
Gossip Girl Prequel: It Had to Be You – This is an Audiobook which can be accessed by putting Disc Three in the DVD drive of your PC or Mac and downloading the 450 mb mp3. More instructions for doing this can be found on an insert slip in the package.
Gag Reel (3:40, Anamorphic) – As with the prior season sets, a few minutes of blown takes and giggle attacks are included here. This is about the same amount of material as was found in Season 5 and most of it is material that was probably very funny on set but just feels awkward here. The one bit that does resonate is a pretty good bit in which a single shot of Penn Badgley and Blake Lively keeps getting blown when Badgley breaks up. Multiple takes of this are shown until it’s clear that there is no way the shot is going to happen for longer than 15 seconds before Badgley and then Lively are certain to break up.
Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and French. Each disc has a menu that allows access to individual episodes, as well as to a “Play All” function.
IN THE END...
Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season wraps up the series in a manner that is fairly consistent with the show’s beginnings, allowing fans to say goodbye in high style. Those fans will be very happy to complete their collection with this set, even given that the series is more of a formula affair than ever until that final show. New viewers would be better advised to start at the beginning, particularly since the final episode is usually not a good way to start watching any series.
February 19, 2013.
Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:
Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – calibrated by AVICAL in 2012 and set to ISF mode
Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver
Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player
PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)
5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)
2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)
Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer
Edited by Kevin EK, April 16 2013 - 01:00 AM.