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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Life with Derek: The Complete First Season
Life with Derek: The Complete First Season
Koch Vision // Unrated // October 14, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 26, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Review:

A Disney Channel series that ran from 2005-2006 and was produced in Canada, "Life With Derek" most resembles a modern "Brady Bunch", taking the structure of the classic with a modern setting and attitudes - rather than making any sort of attempt to get along, the children constantly bicker with one another and try to set boundaries in a house that seems awfully small.

The series focuses on George (John Ralston) and Nora (Joy Tanner), two adults who get married and bring children to the table: he has Derek; Edwin and Marti, while Nora has two daughters - Casey and Lizzie - who aren't thrilled at the prospects of moving into George's now smaller house. While the children don't always get along, the battle is largely between Derek (Michael Seater) and Casey (Ashley Leggat). While the parents have never been happier, the oldest children who can't go a few minutes without a squabble. Despite Derek's incredibly rude actions, the parents also seem either too distracted, too easily forgiving or just plain oblivious. That's one of the show's main faults - despite some upsetting actions by the kids, the parents rarely seem to do much about it.

The show's ability to stray from the usual 110% cheeriness that is seen in this sort of family show is appreciated, but the show's core of letting Derek and Casey argue out every little thing becomes repetitive (having to have to listen to two teens bickering eventually becomes repetitive and irritating, whether on TV or...well, just about anywhere.) It sometimes seems as if the arguing between the two characters takes up most of the running time. Additionally, given what appears to be a small budget, the show doesn't have much scope, even for a sitcom.

The performances are decent, but it's the material that takes things a little far. The Derek character is supposed to be so obnoxious it's funny, but the character is often simply arrogant and irritating. While Leggat's character is in the right the majority of the time, her character isn't without bratty moments and isn't particularly likable, either. Ralston and Tanner have nice chemistry, but it's a little dismaying that the characters always seem at least somewhat oblivious.

"Life With Derek" has gained quite a following, and while the show's ability to be a little less cheery than most of the family sitcom genre is welcome, it goes overboard: I found Derek's obnoxious, smug behavior tiresome and the show's near-constant focus on the battle between Casey and Derek made me wish the show would move beyond watching two unlikeable characters who continue to get on each other's nerves.

Season 1

1. 1- 1 101 18 Sep 05 The Room
2. 1- 2 103 25 Sep 05 The Fall
3. 1- 3 104 2 Oct 05 The Party
4. 1- 4 107 16 Oct 05 Puppy Dog Tails
5. 1- 5 109 23 Oct 05 Grade-Point: Average
6. 1- 6 111 30 Oct 05 The Wedding
7. 1- 7 112 6 Nov 05 The Poxfather
8. 1- 8 102 13 Nov 05 House of Games
9. 1- 9 106 4 Dec 05 Marti the Monster
10. 1-10 108 11 Dec 05 Sweet Misery
11. 1-11 110 18 Dec 05 Babe Raider
12. 1-12 105 15 Jan 06 All Systems No Go
13. 1-13 113 22 Jan 06 Male Code Blue


The DVD

VIDEO: Koch Vision presents "Life With Derek" in 1.33:1 full-frame. Presentation quality was generally very good, as the show looked consistently crisp, considering this appears to be a fairly low-budget TV production. No edge enhancement or print flaws are seen, but a couple of trace instances of pixelation were spotted in a few scenes. Colors appeared warm and bright, but could appear a touch smeary at times.

SOUND: Crisp, clear stereo soundtrack.

EXTRAS: 7 short interviews with each of the main cast members are included, and we also get a short 5-minute piece with series director Ron Murphy discussing his thoughts on helming the show, working with actors and more. A behind-the-scenes photo shoot lasts a little less than 2 minutes and mainly just has the cast getting their picture taken. "On-Set Tours" have cast members giving brief tours of the house and school sets. Finally, a 10-minute "behind-the-scenes" featurette contains snippets of footage of the cast working on scenes (w/no narration or interviews.)

Final Thoughts: "Life With Derek" has the right idea to move away from the usual sappy family sitcom style, but the lead character is made to be too smug and rude, and watching the two teen characters fight with one another time and time again starts to get tiresome fairly quickly. The DVD from Koch Vision offers satisfactory audio/video, as well as a handful of decent bonus features. The show's fans will be pleased with the set, but those new to the show should rent first.
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