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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Huge: The Complete Series
Huge: The Complete Series
Shout Factory // Unrated // February 22, 2011
List Price: $29.93 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 15, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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Family's short-lived series "Huge" follows Willamena "Will" (Nikki Blonsky "Hairspray") and a group of friends she meets at Camp Victory, a camp for overweight teens. "Huge" is based on a novel by the same name and written for screen by Winnie Holzman ("My So-Called Life") and daughter Savannah Dooley. There are several characters that make up "Huge," some of which you don't really get to know until a few episodes in. Still, the main focus is Will, who is the only camper who embraces her curves. Will is comfortable with her body, and it seems that having parents who are ashamed of her looks only fuels her desire to maintain her weight, if not gain more. She's sarcastic, and despite some initial pranks and initital disregard for the camp, she is genuinely caring. In fact, it's the many layers to Will's character that makes "Huge" as successful as it was, and Blonsky's portrayal further enhances the experience.

The other characters are equally as memorable. Will's sidekick is shy, sweet Becca (Raven Goodwin), and her rival (at least at first) is the blonde, thinnest girl there Amber (Hayley Hasselhoff). Amber is also complicated with a soft-spoken side, but also a strong-willed one that we learn more about as the series goes forward. Also in the group is Will's crush Ian (Ari Stidham) who likes Amber, despite getting along really well with Will. There's also camp trainer George (Zander Eckhouse) who catches Amber's eye and vise versa. Additionally, amongst the group are siblings Alistair (Harvey Guillen) and Chloe (Ashley Holliday). We're also introduced to camp runner Dorothy Rand (Gina Torres), who has a personal attachment to the camp that adds depth to her character. I think the main thing going for "Huge" is the character depth. No one is really one-dimensional, and each have their own personal strengths and personal battles.

The series sets out to explore what it's like for the characters as they balance their drive to be healthier (and each character's reason for wanting to be healthier) and further discovering and loving who they are. "Huge" certainly doesn't push being thin for the wrong reasons (to be popular, to win friends, to have someone like you, and so forth), it does a decent job of expressing the importance of loving yourself no matter your size, while also understanding the importance of being healthy. While weight is a topic often touched on, "Huge" explores it closer for a demographic that becomes more image-obsessed every day without feeling like an after-school special. It's presented honestly and at times humorously with performances that never feel contrived.

What does make "Huge" stand apart is the fact that it manages to display a deeper, emotional truth that within every group there are divides and cliques. Just because the teenagers at Camp Victory are overweight, doesn't mean the all get along or are instantly okay with their bodies in comparison to others. In the pilot episode this is displayed nicely when Will asks a group of guys if shy Becca can watch her show instead of what the guys are watching. They say no, but only moments later a somewhat thinner, more outgoing group of girls come in and ask to change the channel and the boys don't hesitate to say yes.

What makes "Huge" enjoyable is the fact that it actually manages to surprise in moving ways. A great example of this is in the Pilot episode when Will runs into Dorothy Rand who up until that point had been tough on Will. Dorothy sits with Will and after an emotional moment of her own, talks to her about the idea of running away and hitchhiking. She says "You were probably planning on hitchhiking, which means you'd rather risk your life than change it." Maybe it's just Holzman and Dooley's writing, or Torres' fantastic performance, but whatever it is, that moment takes "Huge" from just another teenage series to something deeper. It's clear that Winnie Holzman had a hand in writing "Huge". Much like "My So-Called Life," the word "Like" pops up between words, though the delivery isn't quite as moving as the cast of M.S.C.L. Still, "Huge" stands on its own and though only ten episodes were aired, there's a lot of heart and story worth watching here.

• Complete Series

01 "Hello, I Must Be Going" - Will arrives at camp and struggles to find her place.
02 "Letters Home" - A new camper arrives but has anxiety about her parents leaving.
03 "Live Action Role Play" - Will runs into a classmate from another camp.
04 "Talent Night" - Will misplaces her journal and tries to find it before anyone else does.
05 "Movie Night" - Will is upset during movie night when Ian wants to sit with Amber.
06 "Spirit Quest" - Amber and Will get lost in the woods while the group is on a camping trip.
07 "Poker Face" - Salty teaches the campers how to play poker.
08 "Birthdays" - The camp members celebrate Chloe and Alistair's birthdays.
09 "Parents' Week, Part 1" Parents' weekend arrives, and Alistair pretends Becca is his girlfriend.
10 "Parents' Week, Part 2" Summer is halfway over, and parents' weekend continues.


The DVD

VIDEO: The series is presented in full-frame by Shout Factory. Image quality is perfectly reasonable, with respectable sharpness and detail. The presentation did show a few minor traces of pixelation, but otherwise looked perfectly fine, with no edge enhancement or other concerns. Colors looked bright and warm, with very nice saturation and no smearing. Flesh tones looked spot-on, as well.

SOUND: Crisp, clean stereo soundtrack.

EXTRAS:
Commentary for "Hello, I Must Be Going," "Talent Night," and "Birhdays" with Savannah Dooley, Winnie Holzman, Kim Rozenfeld and Paul Dooley. The commentaries are lively and informative. It's nice to hear how Savannah Dooley and Winnie Holzman worked together, and it's clear that they have fond memories of writing and working on the series. With discussion about casting, filming, characters and so much more, there's lots that fans may enjoy.

There's a featurette that focuses on the cast ("Meet The Cast") as they talk about their characters, as well as a closer look at "Nikki Blonsky" and "Ashley Holliday" as they talk in a bit more depth about their roles and the series.

The music section features a look inside the recording studio as Nikki Blonsky, Ari Stidham and Emmy Award Winning music producer W. G. Snuffy Walden as they record the song "Ghost To You." There's also some footage from the series. Ari Stidham's performance of "Right This Time" from the series is also included.

The "blooper reel" included is about eight minutes with a good amount of footage and funny moments that fans may enjoy.

There are nearly twelve minutes of "deleted scenes," and while none of them would have necessarily added to the series, there are some that are enjoyable to watch on their own.

Short episodes of "Phantasma," a spoof teenage ghost show and "Love Handles," a spoof reality dating show are also included.

Final Thoughts: "Huge" stands on its own and though only ten episodes were aired, there's a lot of heart and story worth watching. The DVD presentation boasts fine audio/video quality, as well as a good selection of supplements.
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