Jersey Shore Uncensored - Season One:
For a slight MTV Reality show that's simply a reduction of The Real World, Jersey Shore made a hell of a lot of debut noise. People were enraged, Italians affronted, right-minded snobs deeply offended, but the adventurous ... the adventurous were entertained. Now that Season One of Jersey Shore has arrived "uncensored" on DVD, anyone with a couple of bucks in their pocket and the brains enough to realize that sometimes stupid TV is the best, can safely watch how muscle-bound Guidos and attitude-laden Guidettes party like animals on MTV's dime. Plus, you won't get sucker-punched in the side of the face if you decide to mouth off at the screen.
Taking the basic premise of The Real World, Big Brother, and any other true geek-show reality program, Jersey Shore simply crams eight egotistical hot-heads (no offense, guys, I love you) together in a house, gives them all the booze they can handle, and lets them go wild. Do producers egg them on from the sidelines? Probably. Does the fact that some of these kids were about five-years-old when Kurt Cobain pulled the trigger mean that they're basically impetuous, inexperienced and stupid about life? Yes. And does that make for totally awesome TV? Triple yes! So for about a month, the GTL guys (Gym, Tanning, Laundry) and BWI girls (Bitchy, Whiny, Irritable) are let loose on the shore. They stay up partying until 5AM, they drink constantly, and they needle each other to the point of distraction, fight on a daily basis, make up, and ultimately seem to form bonds of true friendship.
Minus those bonds, the show would be truly shameful - though there's no way you can call it anything other than a guilty pleasure. But really, Jersey Shore was more of an event than a series. Nine forty-minute episodes isn't a whole bunch of weight. The thing is, this is the first reality show where ethnicity is an up front proposition, and where (ostensibly) knocking a certain class or subset of people is the driving factor. Ask anyone from the show if they feel taken advantage of or belittled, and it seems they don't. They're all proud of their heritage and lifestyles. If these stereotypes are being set up, we viewers are the ones knocking them down, because ultimately these are just kids (OK, young adults) not unlike a vast number of others here in America. Yes, they're from Jersey. Yes, they're single-handedly destroying the ozone layer with the amount of hairspray, cologne, and deodorant they use. And yes, the guys are pumped, while the girls flaunt those lovely lady humps. But I'll tell you, I wasn't any smarter at that age - I just showed it in a different way.
If any offense need be taken, you'll find lots of ammo in the way the media pumped this event, not only did people protest stereotypes, they just wanted to know who the hell are these kids who now think they're stars? Who would dare call himself The Situation? Who would have the hair of Pauly D? Who would create as much drama as Snooki? And what kind of nickname is J-Woww? Yeah? Why don't you get your own reality show, kid. Fact is this crew (and MTV's crack team of editors) makes for stunningly addictive TV, and underneath all the bluster they reveal themselves as real people. OK, maybe not The Situation, but I'd still buy him a beer if given the chance.
So I guess part of the challenge, and fun, is getting to know people outside of the realm of Hollywood-Middle-America. I spent a little time in Jersey City once, and I stood in the doorway of knock-about bar with a little Italian man in a cheap suit, if you know what I'm saying, so I know this shit is real. But in the Jersey Shore house you get the youngsters; nice kid Vinny, ultra-bitch Angelina, diminutive drama-queen and all around sweetie Snooki, hot-tempered bruiser with a heart-of-gold Ronnie, sweet but sensitive Sammi, rough-and-tumble boob-model J-Woww, manipulative but caring Situation, and my pick for the dude I'd actually like to hang out with, bemused pro-DJ Pauly D.
This 'uncensored' three-disc set brings it all, though nudity is blurred, obscene gestures are blurred, subtitles censor the dirty words and sometimes even crass utterances get bleeped. See them bring home skanks. See them hook up with dismissive losers, See them punch anyone who disrespects their roll. See them creep the boardwalk, and see more punching, freaking, and all-around shameless fun than you've probably had in decades. But mostly, see them as people, even on the Jersey Shore, they're still just people.
Presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, Jersey Shore gives you the same letterboxed visual experience you got while originally watching it on MTV. Due to hip production design, editing, and frequent use of night-vision or hidden, stationary cams, there is obviously a big mixed bag of visual quality here, all of which is intentional. So from fuzzy confessional cams to faux-aged transition clips to fairly sharp and detailed interview segments, you get the whole variety. In all, it's an acceptable picture from a genre not known for bringing state-of-the-art visuals.
Dolby Digital Stereo Audio is generally OK, though with plenty of live boom mic action, bubbling, sexed-up hot tub scenes and whatnot, there's a lot that's muffled and garbled. But don't worry, subtitles crop up whenever they're needed. I experienced many instances of sudden drops in volume, as if a noise gate were kicking in after a loud explosion. It's not something I encounter when watching other DVDs or television, yet I can't be sure what the problem is exactly. Could be just a fluke, or something else. It's not enough to ruin the experience, but something to consider before purchasing.
Look what's washed up on the Jersey Shore! Tons of extras! First up is a 40-minute Reunion Special that makes other such specials seem positively cozy by comparison. It's almost too uncomfortable to watch, and making nice isn't really on anyone's mind. 32 full minutes of Deleted Scenes will likely provide you with just as much entertainment as each regular episode does. 21 minutes of Before The Shore footage, hosted by the clumsy Julissa Bermudez (same as from the reunion special) lets you know just why these folks were picked to be on TV, and acts as a cautionary tale for those wishing to become a television host - it ain't easy, by the looks of it. Tips From The Situation & Snooki represents seven minutes of fluffy improv and cue-card reading, supposedly meant to help out viewers on the dating scene. If you're seriously looking for advice from these two, you're probably beyond help. But seriously, they actually dispense a few nuggets of good common sense wisdom. Jersey Shore Makeover With Michael Cera is an improbably fun four-minute goof in which the actor hangs out with the Shore cast in an awesome condo, learns how to drink and how to 'beat up the beat', among other things.
Closed Captioning is available, and there are Commentary Tracks featuring Snooki, Pauly D and The Situation, for five of nine episodes. As commentaries go, these are just OK: Firstly, commentary audio is mixed at about the same level as audio from the episodes themselves, which is kind-of OK because the trio stays fairly quiet most of the time anyway. However, it also makes it hard sometimes to really tell which is commentary and which is original audio. This is a problem further exacerbated by the fact that much of what the three say, simply commenting on the action and offering opinions, isn't much different from voiceovers and interview segments from the show itself - sort of like a doubled audio track. However when fights are highlighted, everyone perks up quite a bit.
Jersey Shore Uncensored - Season One, packs nine 40-minute episodes on three discs in a standard keepcase with a flipper insert. As Reality TV goes, it's nothing new, though its focus strictly on 'Guidos' and 'Guidettes' certainly ruffles some feathers. On the other hand, this truly pure distillation of all that's good (and bad) of Reality TV is undeniably addictive, meaningless fun. Fights galore, skanks, juice-heads and rampant, young impetuousness means you'll probably chomp down this entire set in a couple of days. Riding the line between recommended and highly recommended, Jersey Shore raises the question; to beat, or not beat up the beat? For those who say yes, it's Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com