In 10 Words or Less
Carson's style arrives on DVD is less-than-fabulous fashion
The first true hit for Bravo, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" presented puritanical America with homosexuals they could enjoy, mainly because they weren't threatening or "flaming." Thom, Kyan, Ted and, to a point, Jai are four gay guys who don't wear their sexuality on their sleeve. In fact, if no one told you, you'd probably not realize they were gay.
Then there's Carson.
Carson, the show's fashion expert, is the group's most flamboyant member, it's most outrageous and it's breakout star, probably because of those qualities. Whether he's flirting with the straight guys or ripping through their wardrobes, he provides the majority of the show's humor and energy, as well as its unpredictability. Not to play down the other four's contributions, but without Carson, the series would probably be just another make-over show.
Every episode from the first season is represented on this DVD, as Carson's improvements to the Straight Guys' fashion sense are showcased. Carson's parts of the episode are shown chronologically, with all the episodes grouped together, so Carson's evaluations of the closets for every guy are shown, followed by his suggestions for each guy, and so on. I wasn't certain that this style would work, but it actually makes a lot of sense when watching, and makes for a cohesive flow to the special. The show wraps up with a reel of all of his "Hip Tips," easy improvements for any guy, shown back-to-back-to-back.
On TV, the show is made up of two parts, which is what makes it work well. The tear-down and build up portion is where the humor and information are, while the second half shows the new-and-improved Straight Guy utilizing his new look and confidence in an important event. That second half normally has some emotion involved, and grounds what is a very stylized show in reality. There's also the guys' commentary which is frequently bitchy and fun. This collection only includes the first half, which means a lot of what makes the show great is missing.
The special is perfect for anyone who only enjoys Carson, as it's basically all Carson all the time, but it's such a limited amount of him that the disc feels more like a preview than the real thing. In essence, they boiled down over 11 hours of show into just an hour, which means that, even if you allow for an hour of the other four guys, there's plenty of footage on the floor somewhere that fans would like to see.
If there's one thing I won't stand for when it comes to DVDs is a forced ad before the menu. Piracy is a crime? So is wasting my time. So when these discs open with three, count 'em, THREE ads for Bravo television, that I can't skip in any way, it just frustrated me completely.
The two discs (one for the show and one for the extras) are packaged in a standard-width white keepcase, and have animated full-frame menus with footage from the show, and options to play the feature or select chapters. The chapter select menus have still previews and titles for each scene. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
This is another example of the odd issue of giving too much disc space to a show. While cramming 10 episodes on a disc is ridiculous, so is splitting two hours of TV-quality footage onto two DVDs. All it does is fool people into thinking they are getting more for their money than they really are, and jacking up the price of the set.
As this full-frame footage isn't very old, it's in good shape, though the look can vary greatly, as it's taken from a wide selection of episodes, all shot in different conditions. The episodes look as good as they did on Bravo, though there's some pixilation and video noise that's evident now and again. There's no obvious dirt or damage, as one would expect.
The audio, done in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, is standard in terms of the natural dialogue, but the music soundtrack, which is loaded with pop and dance music, is more powerful.
The second disc is where all the extras are, though the word "all" is a bit misleading. There are a total of two extras in this set. The first extra is a 20-minute collection of Carson outtakes from the first season of the series. For the most part, the outtakes can be broken down into three categories: Carson doing/saying something outrageous, Carson screwing something up, or Carson being outraged or losing it. If you enjoy him on the show, you will definitely enjoy the bits of him that never made it on the air, especially when he's simply being filthy. Some of the best bits come from the time the guys and their Straight Guy spend in the car driving around. Being in a confined space with nothing to do seems to set Carson off.
Also included is the complete fourth episode of the first season, "He's a Little Bit Country, She's a Little Bit Overwhelmed." The straight guy is an urban cowboy from Jersey City, NJ, who wants to propose to his girlfriend, but he needs style assistance from the Fab Five for himself and his proposal technique. It's a good episode, as his apartment is a perfectly blank canvas to be improved and he has the kind of body shape that enables Carson to do basically whatever he wants in terms of a fashion make-over. That he's going from a country boy to a metrosexual helps as well. The ending, which is not included in the main feature, shows why having a whole episode makes all the difference.
The worst part of these extras is the lack of what would seem to be a natural hit: a commentary by Carson. If there was ever a natural for talking, it would be him.
The Bottom Line
A complete season set would have been much preferred to this best-of presentation, as the episode included on the second disc is better than the rest of the set because it has the well-crafted "Queer Eye" feel. Unfortunately, it may be the lawsuit pressed by the Queer Eye Guy dropped early in the series that's holding back the season collection. For the Carson fan, it's a nice DVD, as it has essentially all the Carson moments from the first season. But with a limited amount of extras, and around two hours of content spread across two discs, there's just not enough of the show. This is rental material for fans of the series; a placeholder until season sets can be released.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.