It may not be the most popular or greatest show in the world, but ABC Family's Greek has a lot to offer. In case you're unfamiliar with it, Greek is basically a teen dramady with a little bit of Animal House thrown in for good measure, along with a slight peppering of 90210. It is basically a soap opera for young people if you can't figure it out. The ironic part is that it's actually pretty entertaining despite its shallow, air-headed nature.
The first season suffered from some dim moments such as poor direction and overplayed relationship mumbo-jumbo. Despite those flaws the introductory DVD proved to be a solid effort and I was surprised to say that I was very entertained by it. This quality is mainly attributed to its cast of young, talented actors who pull off the otherwise barebones script and make each scene better than it should be. They inject a spot-on amount of personality and throughout the show their characters develop in a real, believable fashion. In other words you watch this show for the quality of its cast and overlook the otherwise light script and bubbly atmosphere. That's not a bad thing, but it definitely leaves Greek out of water cooler discussions.
The main stars of the show are brother and sister, Rusty and Casey Cartwright. In the first season we got to see Rusty as he experienced rush week at Cyprus-Rhodes University. Life wasn't looking easy since he was a normal, albeit antisocial, kid trapped in a geek's body, and his socially addicted sister wasn't exactly helping matters much. Fortunately he stumbled upon the screwball Kappa Tau Gamma fraternity and was taken under the wing by beloved screw up and all around charismatic leader Cappie, who also happened to be Casey's ex-boyfriend. Small world, huh?
To make a long story short, the first season followed Rusty as he adapted to college life and learned the tricks of the trade from Cappie. We also got quite a lot of Casey's life and what she had to put up with from her sorority girls such as Frannie, Rebecca, and Ashleigh. Several other characters were thrown into the mix as well, but quite honestly there are too many to talk about in order to keep this section brief. Basically all you need to know is that Greek has a fun cast of young actors who pull of their characters deftly and make this show as enjoyable as it is.
As enchanting as the cast is though, the first season suffered from an aforementioned lack of quality direction. The ten episodes spent so much time lost in relationship nonsense that it became very difficult to follow and induced headaches aplenty. Who was crushing on who, who slept with her, why did he cheat, and how is everyone going to react became a main focus of the show's plot. Because of this, and a lack of strong writing to back it up, the characters began to feel very one-dimensional and shallow. I suppose that's just a byproduct of drunkenness and depravity, but it definitely conflicted with the feel rest of the show. How does the second season compare?
Thankfully the time in between seasons allowed the cast and crew to iron out some of the kinks. This second semester feels much smoother than the first, the writing is sharper, the acting is better, and all around everything seems much more refined somehow. The season starts out basically where the first one left off with Rusty having his heart broken, Cappie hooking up with Rachel, Casey and Evan splitting up, and Calvin dealing with being outted to his fraternity by Ashleigh. From there the characters pick up the pieces and trudge on through schoolwork, friendship, and the other pitfalls of college life.
Rusty tries to get back onto the dating scene and eventually manages to rebound a bit, but considering he's the low man on the totem pole at Kappa Tau his life is still pretty miserable. Casey fights for her leadership position at her sorority, but it seems as though Frannie isn't exactly going to leave quietly. There is quite a lot of friction involving the social structure there and before the end of the season roles are reversed and there's plenty of backstabbing. It's also worth noting that Casey hooks up with Rusty's new R.A. this year, but as is the case with most of the relationships in this show, it just doesn't seem destined to be.
What's Cappie up to? Well, he's still dating Rebecca and Casey eventually finds out, so I'm sure you can figure out where that leads. Evan's also around up to his usual antics, but the highlight of his character comes in the episode "Freshman Date", which gives us a glimpse at the elder students in their freshman year. It's a charming episode that shows Cappie and Casey dating and exactly how the rift happened between everyone's favorite goofball and Evan. Calvin grows more comfortable in his role as the gay frat guy, Rebecca actually becomes likeable for a while, and Dale is pretty much still the religious whack-job he was intended to be. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Overall the twelve episodes here definitely move the show forward. Once again Greek thrives thanks to the infectiously enjoyable cast and they save this show from being mediocre. The relationship insanity is still a little too pervasive for my liking, but it does give a fairly accurate representation of what college life is really like. In the end Greek is the television equivalent to candy. You know it's probably not good for you, but it's so sweet and addicting that you just can't stop going back for another bite. Check it out if you're looking for a nice little guilty pleasure.
Greek: Chapter Two hits DVD with an anamorphic widescreen presentation and the transfer done for this release is exemplary. With regards to the picture quality there is some slight grain that most likely stems from the filming of the series. This has been left intact but in all honesty the grain hardly detracts from the image thanks to the crispness of the picture and near total lack of compression. Colors also appear vibrant and natural and never come across as too warm for their own good.
Like the first season of Greek, the second chapter comes with English 5.1 Dolby Digital as its only selection. The rear channels get some decent play and the sound director had some fun with a few effects, but otherwise the track is suitable yet underutilized. This is a somewhat quiet, dialogue driven program so you can't really expect a booming soundtrack. There are some moments where the music kicks things up a notch, but again they won't really work your bass very much. French and Spanish subtitles are included.
Some decent bonus material graces Greek's three DVDs. For starters there are three audio commentaries with a mix of production crew and actors. The episodes in question are: "A New Normal", "Freshman Daze", and "47 Hours & 11 Minutes". The tracks are very entertaining and feature a nice spread of personal feelings about the show, jokes, and insight behind what's happening. I will say that due to the amount of people in each commentary they can feel a little jumbled at times, but all in all those moments are few and fleeting.Aside from the commentaries there is a brief, yet amusing, blooper reel, a music video with the Plain White T's, and a flashback episode of sorts that helps tie things together.
After being pleasantly surprised by the first season of Greek, I'm happy to say that the second chapter keeps the ball rolling. Though the show still has some problems with its design it remains addictively entertaining, fun, and endearing. This is a show where the actors and characters they portray carry the experience and they make the bitter pill of young soap opera series much easier to swallow. If you enjoyed the first season, consider this one strongly recommended.
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