Jersey Shore Uncensored Season Four:
Like it or not, they're part of our cultural family now, and it feels like it's a permanent thing. I know that's not true, but while we're in the middle of it, it sure feels like it will stretch out to eternity. The Situation, Rammi, (that's Ronnie and Sammi) Snooki, Deena, DJ Pauly D, Vinnie and J-Woww - names that evoke The Sopranos mixed with names kids have for their grandparents - are clawing their way into cultural (ir)relevancy with as much energy as they can muster. Will those names be familiar ten years from now? Or will they be forgotten trivia? Who knows, but we get what we deserve.
Anyway, our octet of Italian/Americans - who now seem less like a gimmicky reality grouping and more like a simple subset of today's typical 20-something arrested adolescent crowd - once again leave the cozy environs of the Jersey shore, this time for Florence, Italy. Packed together in another garish crash pad, the crew starts things off mellow like, with those first to arrive claiming the best room, while little else occurs in the drama department. Ronnie and Sammi are broken up, Vinnie tries to grow a beard, and only The Situation appears eager to stir the pot.
Thus begins another typical season of Jersey Shore, and soon things degenerate into the clueless, selfish, obnoxious, drunken behavior we know and love. Calling this a formula is an understatement; the brilliance of the show is how the producers hand-picked people who could reliably run their own little formulas over and over again. Though sometimes we wonder how much the producers may prod these kids into acting foolish, we suspect that, save for all of them wanting to be stars, their goofing is genuinely habitual. It's part of why we love them so much, (or love to hate them) because while they're Drunky-and-Hyde-ing themselves into the Bad Boozers Hall of Fame, they're mimicking our own struggles with ingrained repetition of negative behaviors. (Or maybe that's just me.) Anyway, no matter how low they may sink, they all bust out with enough moments of sincerity and human kindness to keep us coming back. (Except for The Situation, of course.)
So naturally Sammi and Ronnie hook back up by the second episode, go out drinking and dancing, and soon start screaming at each other. Mike shifts into high gear, trying to create a situation between Ronnie, Snooki and who ever else he can trick. It's all fun until the kids have to roll out of bed at the ungodly hour of 1PM to work at a pizzeria, which lets them off in plenty of time to dude up and go out to the same three clubs over and over. I'd like to see a Family Circus-style map of their routes through town, as I bet they hardly leave a five block radius of their pad.
While the usual nights of blackout intoxication still provide plenty of laughs, such as when Deena and Snooki tear it up, all the cast members seem primed to get extra weird this time. Mike and Ronnie duke it out, Mike begins sporting a Three Stooges haircut, and Mike constantly tries to sabotage every friendship with stupid plans like "GTF - Gym, Tan, Find Out Who's The Rat." Actually, season four threatens to turn into the Mike and Snooki Show, since Mike appears to have a crush on Snooki and won't leave her alone, while Snooki emerges as a deranged sometimes-diplomat with real character beyond being whiny and addicted to booze.
So what seems like an easy twist - sending the kids to Florence - turns into a great way to send them all out of their minds. It's fist-flying, heel-breaking, bar-dancing insanity of serious magnitude. MTV has outdone itself with Jersey Shore Season Four, presenting 12 40-minute episodes of ridiculous debauchery, sociopathic conniving, and much more. As with each previous "Uncensored" DVD release, nudity is a no-go, and blurred when it occurs (which is pretty frequently). Though the gang swears up a storm, all curse words, when used to describe sex acts, are censored - that is, until episode 10 or 11, when for no apparent reason the practice is abandoned. That's great, because now when Vinnie and Snooki smush, we know they're really f*cking.
Jersey Shore Uncensored Season Four flies to Florence in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio letterboxed images reduced to fit a 4 X 3 screen, preserving the 'why-are-they-still-doing-this?' original aspect ratio of the TV broadcasts. Modish production design, editing, and CCTV camera footage indicates a big mixed bag of visual quality, all of which is intentional. Green-tinted sex-cams, faux-aged transition clips, and fairly sharp and detailed interview segments school you in MTV Style, which is OK I suppose.
Dolby Digital English Stereo Audio is fine but totally unremarkable. For the amount of time the kids spend in loud clubs, whispering, or slurring their words, not all dialog is easy to hear. But don't worry, subtitles crop up whenever they're needed. Transitional music is mixed in at a level a notch higher than the dialog, but otherwise there aren't any serious problems.
My viewing partner (often referred to as The Wife) and I have decided that Jersey Shore extras are too depressing. While Deleted Scenes do bring you more of the good stuff, cut off from the context and narrative flow of the show they don't bring the same thrill. After Hour Specials and the Reunion Special stink because host Julissa is lame, and most cast members when plopped on the interview couch appear more sleazy, stupid and boring than usual. Only Pauly D and Vinnie appear about the same.
Disc Two contains two 20-minute After Hour Specials for the episodes 'And The Wall Won', and 'Meatball Mashup'. Since these are two exceptionally weird and funny episodes, they deserve the extra love, and thankfully hostess Julissa has been replaced by the livelier Amy Paffrath. Disc Three sports one After Hour Special for 'Three Men and a Snooki'.
Disc Four brings nothing but extras, starting with The Reunion, also hosted by Amy Paffrath, and is 41 minutes long. Jersey Shore: From the First Fist Pump is a stately 40-minute look back at the long forgotten early days of the show, filled with all-new introduction/interview segments from the cast members. 18 Deleted Scenes of one to two minutes each breeze by. Count on four-minutes of Jersey Shore: Fashion to let you know the difference between dressing for Italy, and dressing for Seaside Heights. Eight one to two minute Confessionals are capped off by a six minute look at Vinnie and Pauly D's alter egos Louie & Joey. You can pick and choose what to watch, or hit the Play All function and simply pig out.
The Jersey Shore gang are back, in Florence, Italy, for an 'Uncensored' Season Four! What could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, everything can go wrong and does, as eight twenty-something Guidos and Guidettes go back to their roots. Cooped up in a garish rental, (and god, I hope it was decorated specifically for the show) the kids get down for some serious drinking, smushing, fighting, and messing with each other's heads in what could be the best season yet. It's stupid, it's offensive, it's fake as hell, but it's also oh-so-real. You know you want it: 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