In 10 Words or Less
The Queer Eye guys take to the dugouts
Loves: The Yankees
Likes: Queer Eye
Hates: The Sawks
After a first season that saw the Fab Five explode all over the place, the stylish quintet had quite a challenge ahead of them. Namely, they had to figure out how to keep the "make-better" concept fresh, while not changing it too much and turning off the fans who had fallen in love with the Queer Eye feel. Too often, that challenge ends up killing a series that got too big too soon.
To start the second season, the minds behind the show went gimmicky, but in a good way. Recruiting five stars from the World Champion Boston Red Sox during Florida spring training, the episode combined baseball and homosexuality in a way that entertains more than the Houston Astros old uniforms every could. There's a hint of homophobia in the way guys like Kevin Millar react to some of the boys, but for the most part, they are pretty open to the experience.
But the show isn't just about the Sox. While in Florida, the guys pitch in, with the help of some generous corporate sponsors, to fix up a hurricane-ravaged little league field, and set up a chance for these kids to play with their heroes. These moments seem a bit artificially "meaningful" and out of step with the rest of the episode, but they do give the show more of a heart.
Of course, the redesign of the Sox victims is the core of the episode, and a total spa treatment and fashion fix-up awaits the ballplayers, and their wives, who help cajole the "Idiots" into paraffin wax and pumpkin face masks.
There are two parts of the show that rub the wrong way, and hopefully, neither is a sign of the show's future. The show has always whored itself to pay for the expensive make-over tools it uses through simple product placement, but this episode, with extensive mentions of the show's sponsors, including Dunkin' Donuts, Mizuno and BJ's, is a bit heavy-handed. One questions it especially when Ted Allen praises the ready-made goodies provided by the warehouse club store. While the whoring is for a good cause here, it should be toned down in the future.
The other negative note is the episode's lack of common-man hints that normally populate every episode. There's not one Hip Tip, often some of the show's best material, and the chatter about how to make minor changes to improve one's life is similarly missing. Also, Thom, Ted and Jai are somewhat relegated to the background, as the make-better effort is most focuses on the Sox' clothes, hair and skin. Though they do have their moments, they don't let their skills shine. The interplay between the five guys is a strength of the show, and that muscle is not flexed enough in this special.
On the plus side, a viewer's enjoyment of this episode doesn't rely on proximity to Beantown. As a dyed-in-the-wool Yankees fan, one would expect me to view this one in a negative light, but watching the Sox interact with the Fab Five truly humanizes them, and makes them downright likeable, even that long-haired caveman, Johnny Damon. Instead of being purely muscle-headed jocks, like one might expect (and the persona that peaks through at times), these "Idiots" seem more like good guys. And yes, it did hurt to write that.
Unlike the rest of the Queer Eye DVDs, it takes just one DVD in a white keepcase to hold the whole Red Sox package. The main menu, a static full-frame number, offers a choice between viewing the main episode or the bonus feature. There are no audio or subtitle options, and no closed captioning.
At an average of around 8Mbps, the encoding helps get the DVD off to a good start, and the full-frame transfers hold up their end of the bargain. The video looks solid, with excellent color and a level of quality that's on the high end of TV video, though some light pixilation trouble can be seen along straight lines and tight stripes. There's not a spot of dirt or damage to be found.
There's just one extra on this DVD, but it's a good one. The 20 minutes of bonus footage from the Red Sox episode plays like almost an entire additional episode, with outtakes and alternate takes from the makeovers. As with the other QE discs, Carson is at his best in these "too hot for TV" moments, but there's a lot to like about this featurette, which is filled with fun moments, including a Dunkin' Donuts food fight. A chapter selection menu is included to allow viewers to flip through the seven sections of the bonus feature.
The Bottom Line
This season-premiere special proved the guys didn't lose a step in their second season, as the challenge of making over a quintet of macho baseball players, who somewhat dropped their defenses when faced with the Fab Five. On the downside, it's just one 44-minute episode, plus a bonus that brings the disc up to a massive hour-long DVD. A full-season collection would have been much more preferable. But, for what it is, the disc is a good presentation, and at least the hour is an entertaining one. Depending on one's interest in seeing Johnny Damon's hair up in foil, this disc is a must-have or a rental.
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.