HTF DVD REVIEW: Dirt - The Complete First Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    Dirt - The Complete First Season
    Directed by Matthew Carnahan et al

    Studio: Touchstone
    Year: 2007
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Running Time: 607 minutes
    Rating: TV-MA
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
    Subtitles: SDH
    MSRP: $59.99

    Release Date: December 11, 2007
    Review Date: December 15, 2007


    The Series

    3.5/5

    Dirt is a salacious series about a salacious business, the buying and selling of scandalous pictures and stories of the rich, famous, or infamous. It can be rude, crude, and very politically incorrect. It is also one of the wickedest guilty pleasures of the 2006-2007 television season. It won’t win any awards, but just try to look away once it hooks you.

    Lucy Spiller (Courtney Cox) is the editor of two slick entertainment magazines - Now (which seems like a People clone) and its more tabloid-oriented sister publication Dirt. (The magazines merge early in the season.) She drives her staff to rake up all the muck that’s fit to print and lives each week as if it were her last in the publishing business. Careers rise and fall on what scandals she can uncover or what gossipy information she can use to barter for juicier items for her publication. Lucy is very good at her job. Whether it’s catching a star NBA player being serviced by a hooker, an action film star having a dalliance with his male interior decorator, a conservative Christian pop singer in the hospital for freebasing, a rap star murdered by his record producer in a gruesome way, or an unmarried devout Catholic television star hooked on drugs and pregnant, Lucy dishes the dirt and lets the chips fall where they may. They sometimes fall in very close proximity to her.

    Involved directly or indirectly in Lucy’s thriving gossip enterprise is rising film star Holt McLaren (Josh Stewart), his rapidly fading drugged-out girl friend Julia Mallory (Laura Allen), Lucy’s bisexual brother Leo (Will McCormack), her combative publisher Brent Barrow (Jeffrey Nordling), and, most importantly, her best friend and ace photographer Don Konkey (Ian Hart). Konkey is a functioning schizophrenic who is nevertheless able to deliver expert one-of-a-kind photographs even if he has to go above and beyond the call of duty to get them (like chopping off his pinkie to gain admittance to a hospital where a star wanted for a cover spread is in seclusion for a drug mishap).

    Despite the outrageous plotlines of some of the episodes, the acting of the principals is really first rate. Courtney Cox, who’s been the subject of many a tabloid exposé herself, must be relishing her bitchy, heartless character whose go-for-broke philosophy increases sales by double digit percentages. Ian Hart as Don Konkey steals every scene he’s a part of dealing with his schizophrenia in bizarre and always interesting ways. Jeffrey Nordling’s Brent Barrow is effectively blustery as the hard-to-please, skirt-chasing publisher while Josh Stewart and Laura Allen as a frazzled Hollywood couple (one whose career is sailing while the other’s is sinking) couldn’t be more believable (though Stewart doesn’t seem cut out as an action star; he’s more of a Sean Penn clone.) Among the guest stars who pop up in one or more episodes during this first season are Timothy Bottoms, Mariette Hartley, Christopher Knight, Rick Fox, Wayne Brady, Paul Reubens, and Jennifer Aniston.

    Here’s a rundown of the thirteen episodes contained on the four discs in the set:

    1 - Pilot
    2 - Blogan
    3 - Ovophagy
    4 - What to Expect When You’re Expecting
    5 - You Don’t Know Jack
    6 - The Secret Lives of Altar Girls
    7 - Come Together
    8 - The Thing Under the Bed
    9 - This Is Not Your Father’s Hostage Situation
    10 - The Sexxx Issue
    11 - Pap Smeared
    12 - Caught on Tape
    13 - Ita Missa Est

    Video Quality

    4/5

    This FX series is presented on DVD in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. In general, the image is solid and sharp with good flesh tones and fine color reproduction easily eclipsing the look of the broadcast version. Black levels vary throughout the episodes, sometimes blowing out and other times looking very deep and rich. There is occasional video noise, but it’s not obtrusive. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track places the speaking voices solidly in the center channel but restricts the rear channels almost exclusively to music. It’s a very talky drama, so the chances for ambient effects for the surrounds aren’t always present. However, to increase the tension in some of the episodes, a very dominant tone rattles effectively through the LFE channel.

    Special Features

    3/5

    All of the featurettes on disc four are presented in nonanamorphic widescreen.

    “Celebrity Couple Gets Dirty” is a 5-minute overview detailing the origin of the show from its producers and head writer.

    “Through a Lens, Darkly” concentrates on the key character of schizophrenic Don Konkey and the actor (Ian Hart) who plays him. The feature runs 6½ minutes.

    “Tabloid Wars: Totally True Stories from the Celebrity Trenches” is another 6½-minute piece on how the tabloid Dirt Now which is the focus of the series differs from American tabloids and how it was more decisively based on the Fleet Street tabloids in London with its more aggressive style and its use of modern technology to seek out news.

    A very brief 1½-minute gag reel of no particular interest is offered as a special feature.

    The DVD offers 18 minutes of deleted and extended scenes which can be selected individually or played all at once. Each of the eleven scenes is introduced by the show’s producer-director-writer Matthew Carnahan who explains their exclusion from the finished episodes.

    A very brief 1¼-minute preview of season two has Matthew Carnahan discussing upcoming plans for the second season which will include shorter story arcs and more focus on the Lucy-Don friendship.

    Buena Vista trailers for the upcoming Becoming Jane, Golden Door, and Eagle Versus Shark wrap up the bonus items on disc four.

    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)

    Though it got mostly negative reviews from mainstream critics for its first season, I found Dirt oddly addictive and a definite guilty pleasure. If the melodramatic ups and downs of some unusual Hollywood types sounds like something of interest, you might want to give the series a chance.


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    Good review Matt! I've been on the fence regarding purchasing this show; now I'm going to spring for the First Season.

    Thanks for the incisive review!

    John
     

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