The best reality TV shows -- I'm not talking about "Rock of Love" or "Kid Nation" here -- illuminate the ordinary in a way that causes viewers to appreciate the larger world and the various walks of life that make up our global existence. Given that so much of reality TV is either competitive or exploitative (or often both), it's hard to find programs that actually reward you for spending time with them. One such show, Little People, Big World, certainly carried the whiff of potential exploitation at its outset; Oregon couple Matt and Amy Roloff, along with their four kids (Molly, Jacob, Jeremy and Zach) have dwarfism, a condition typically made light of in Z-grade mainstream Hollywood comedies.
But Little People, Big World, which premiered in March 2006, rises above cheap jokes and doesn't show the Roloffs as anything other than what they are, which is people who are occasionally frustrated by life's challenges, doting parents and engaging, compelling individuals. Over the course of this first season (the show is currently in the midst of its third season), viewers are introduced to the Roloff family as they experience camping trips, financial difficulties, the holidays, driving tests and farm life, among other things.
Through it all, the program never devolves into anything other than a warts-and-all glimpse into the lives of some extraordinary people. By turns amusing and deeply poignant, Little People, Big World is one of television's hidden gems, a program that the whole family can watch -- hey, it's better than letting the young ones tune into "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila."
The first season, comprised of 20 episodes (most of which run around 22 minutes), is spread over three discs that are housed in a fold-out cardboard sleeve, which slides into a slipcase. It's worth noting that a one-hour "pilot" episode titled "Little People, Big Dreams," aired in March 2005, but is not included on this set. The DVD
Presented as originally broadcast on TLC, Little People, Big World's first season is presented on DVD in a passable 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer. The opening credits on each show are a bit blown-out, but the shot-on-video portions look pretty crisp and clear. The Audio:
As with most reality TV shows, dialogue is the star and as such, the Dolby 2.0 stereo track gets the job done with no distortion or drop-out. In certain cases where the audio's a bit muffled, it'd be nice to have optional English subtitles, but otherwise, no real complaints. The Extras:
A pair of "lost episodes" (from the show's second season, aired in May 2007) are on disc three -- "That's Agri-Tainment" and "Amy's Work is Never Done." Both are normal-length episodes that feature footage shot prior to the first season. In addition, a Little People, Big World trailer and a trailer for season one complete the set. One wishes for a bit more substance here -- would a production team commentary track or featurette have been too much to ask? -- but what's provided is better than nothing. Final Thoughts:
By turns amusing and deeply poignant, Little People, Big World is one of television's hidden gems, a program that the whole family can watch -- hey, it's better than letting the young ones tune into "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila." Highly recommended.