The Second Season
Party of Five is a teenage melodrama about five siblings getting their lives back together after the death of their parents. I never watched this show religiously when it aired, but I did manage to catch enough episodes that I am pretty familiar with it. The back story of the series (covered in the pilot episode) is about the Salinger family. They are put into disarray when the parents are killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. This tragic event forced the five siblings to band together in a way they never expected. In the first season, a lot of the plotlines were about the cast getting used to their new situation and at the same time trying to live regular lives with an otherwise irresponsible twenty-four year old guy being forced to act the parent to three teenagers and a baby. The drama surrounding these events developed was thick and sometimes way over the top. The second season's drama maintains the thick, over the top melodramatic tone.
While I had somewhat fond memories of this show, the second season left me feeling less than entertained and on occasion, frustrated. For the most part I felt the stories were good, but the drama was a little more than I could bear. An over the top, dramatic story can be good, but too much of it can turn into something bad. On more than one occasion it felt like way too much and more often than not I thought the characters came off as whiny. It was the whiny factor that caused my frustration. Sometimes it was just hard to sit through.
The second season picks up with the end of summer. Charlie and Kirsten are working out the details of their upcoming marriage and at the same time Charlie is trying to figure the details of his life. Julia is welcoming back her longtime friend and boyfriend Justin from his summer trip in Europe, while at the same time trying to keep her illicit love affair with bad boy Griffin a secret. Bailey is overcoming the events from the end of season one, while struggling to find his confidence in life. As usual, Claudia feels like the little kid no one pays attention too.
As the season unfolds, Charlie and Kirsten's relationship becomes the key fixture for the first half. While the two are deeply in love with each other, Charlie begins to doubt their relationship. The thought of marriage and being with only one person until death scares him a lot. His reservations about marrying Kirsten become a big problem for her as well and it ends their relationship. In the second half of the season, we find them lowly rebuilding their relationship and trust in each other.
Julia's story starts off with her trying to juggle two boyfriends, but when the truth comes out she is forced to pick one of them. She picks Griffin, who is a jerk and troublemaker. Yet, Julia does not give up on him. Later they realize the relationship is doomed for reasons out of their control and she tries to repair her relationship with Justin. Towards the end of the season this becomes a very dramatic story, as their relationship became sexual and Julia got pregnant and had a miscarriage.
Bailey is hurting the tragedy from the end of season one and he is having trouble overcoming it. Because of this, he is unable to be in a relationship. His best friend Will tries to setup him up with a girl, which fails. Bailey's friend Sarah also actively pursues him, but despite hint after hint, he never realizes her interest in him until she points it out. They end up dating, but not for long because Bailey isn't over his problem yet. Will and Sarah get together and it fills Bailey with jealous and he is finally able to commit to a relationship.
Sarah finds out her life has been a lie. Her parents are not her real parents. She was adopted. Sarah does not react to this news well and soon turns into an angry at the world teenager who likes to yell and scream. Fortunately Bailey is there to help her through the ordeal.
Claudia breaks her wrist and is unable to play the violin for months. And playing the violin had been a big part of her life. In this season she finds a new friend, a troublemaker who smokes cigarettes and does anything to defy authority. She starts turning Claudia into a junior-version bad girl. In the end, Claudia realizes she is no longer the same person and when her wrist heals, she gives up playing the violin and tries a different path in life.
This season has plenty of more dramatic stories such as Julia dealing with sexual harassment from a teacher, Charlie taking over the family restaurant and running into severe financial difficulties, Bailey struggling to get into college, and so on. In the end, some of these stories prove interesting, while others tended to drone on. Party of Five should be great for fans of series, but those looking for a good teenage melodrama might want to look elsewhere.
1. Ready or Not
3. Dearly Beloved
4. Have No Fear
5. Change Partners... and Dance
7. Where There's Smoke
8. Best Laid Plans
9. The Wedding
10. Grand Delusions
11. Unfair Advantage
12. Hold on Tight
13. Poor Substitutes
14. Strange Bed Fellows
16. Comings and Goings
17. Valentine's Day
18. Before and After
19. Altered States
20. Happily Ever After
21. Spring Breaks I
22. Spring Breaks II
The video is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality looks decent and offers a viewable picture. There are traces of edge enhancement and a fair amount of compression artifacts, as well as some ghosting. Colors usually look good, but there are times when they are not represented well and bright colors appear too dark.
The audio is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is adequate and like most TV on DVD releases provides an audible track with dialogue that is easy to hear throughout each episode. There are no subtitles included, but the feature supports closed captioning.
This box set comes with three audio commentaries and a featurette. The commentaries are for episodes "The Wedding", "Grand Delusions", and "Before and After". Each commentary has writer and producer Chris Keyser, and actors Lacey Chabert, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Scott Wolf, and Paula Devicq, sitting in on it, except the track for "Grand Delusions" does not include Keyser. The general topic of discussion was common to most commentary tracks. Scott Wolf turned out to be quite funny and made listening to the tracks a lot of fun. Note, if you try to access these from the DVD menus, they will not load the episodes with the commentary tracks. You will have to select the track manually when the episode begins.
The featurette is "Party of Five: A Look Back with Jennifer Love Hewitt", which is thirty minutes of reflection time with Jennifer. She talks about how she got on the show, her interaction with the other characters, what people thought about it, experiences on the set, etc. It started off lackluster, but as it went on Jennifer turned out to provide some interesting insights. There's one portion when she talks about what it was like kissing Scott Wolf, and her comments are on the funny-side. Overall I enjoyed the extras more than I did the season episodes.
Even though I never watched Party of Five episode after episode when it aired on television, I did caught quite a few from time to time and the experience left me with some fond memories about the series. When I started the second season, I couldn't quite remember what the show was about, but after an episode I was able to remember a lot about it. As season two got underway, I found some of the content to be entertaining, but more typically than not the drama came off as little too much. The character roles felt a little forced and whiny, which left me annoyed and frustrated. In the end, my fond memories were shattered and I can't say I really enjoyed watching season two. This is probably best for the fans of the series, and those looking for a teenage melodrama to get into might want to look toward another show like Felicity or One Tree Hill.