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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gossip Girl: The Complete Series
Gossip Girl: The Complete Series
Warner Bros. // Unrated // February 12, 2013
List Price: $199.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted February 12, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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Gossip Girl - The Complete Series DVD Review


Gossip Girl
is a television series created and developed by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (who worked together on The O.C.). Originally based upon a series of young adult novels from American novelist Cecily von Ziegesar, the show focuses in on the lives of young adults who live highly dramatic and privileged lives within the Upper East Side of Manhattan located in New York City.  

Gossip Girl premiered on The CW network on September 19th, 2007 to the tune of 3.5 million viewers and it had a six season run that lasted until the December 17, 2012 series finale. The series is undeniably one of the biggest television successes of the past decade, despite mixed responses and inconsistent ratings. Gossip Girl became a massive pop-culture success and it doesn't appear to be fading away anywhere now that a beautifully packaged complete series release has been made available.

Narrated by Kristin Bell (who voices the mysterious 'Gossip Girl') the basic backdrop of the series is that an online blogger going by codename Gossip Girl posts gossipy news about the events going on in the lives of the elite Manhattan youth: the scoops and dishes on breakups, relationships, and all that jazz.

The blog posts add up to more insightful scoops on the characters that populate the show and the elitist high-fashion environments they inhabit. Of course, who actually is the popular blogger who goes by Gossip Girl? People wonder who the character actually is - and if it is someone amidst the main cast members. This is both true of the characters on the show and of the fans themselves. Viewers wondering about this bit of information will have to be patient, though. Actually, it takes a significant amount of time to find this reveal. You'll be waiting until the series finale if you haven't seen the series before.

Unsurprisingly, this series has become a cultural landmark as a series considered to be one of the best "guilty pleasures" of teenage and young adult broadcast television programming and it's a series that actually managed to have a huge impact on the culture of fashion and style amongst teenagers. Flip to any fashion magazine and there's a good chance of finding one of the cast members of Gossip Girl, and something about the styles of the stars and the characters they portray. The series inspired fashion lines, products, and even led to a fashion line launched around the same time that season 5 premiered. It's all quite fascinating.

One particularly interesting aspect of a mass culture shift apparent on the show is how the series was one of the first series to ever show a widespread use of cellphones. Now almost everyone uses them to communicate. Elements of culture inherent in this series actually add a different, interesting, and surprising element of cultural relevancy to its place in television history.

The series is filmed in New York and the use of various locations adds an extra element that is authentic and exciting. The frequent showcasing of actual New York restaurants also does the show some good by harkening back to Sex and the City in the use of a city backdrop that can effectively add another quality aspect of filmmaking to the proceedings.

Gossip Girl is about the fashion, the breakups, the hookups, the adventures (or misadventures), the journey, the politics of popularity, the quest for success, and all of that other odd fun stuff. This is basically a high-end, well produced, and unusual teen soap (at least in comparison to other primetime soaps out there). It covers all of those areas with great panache. The most important thing is it does so while caring about focusing in on and emphasizing the many characters that exist within the Gossip Girl world.  This is ultimately a show about characters. Elaborate plotlines and twists and turns? That's all groovy gravy (or icing on the cake).

The main cast of characters includes Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Dan Humphrey (Pen Badgley), Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), and Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick).  Many other supporting characters appeared on Gossip Girl as things progressed over six seasons of storylines and plot developments and these elements opened up the show to a broader scope of actors. Nonetheless, it was these five characters, portrayed by five talented leads, which was the focus of the entire series of storylines. The essence of Gossip Girl revolved around the journey taken by Serena, Blair, Dan, Nate, and Chuck.

Serena is the most popular girl of the whole group with a party hard history and a past she wants to actually move away from. Of course, she eventually finds herself being pulled back into the big drama by all of her surrounding friends and annoying frenemies. She's a soft-spoken and kind spirit of a person at her core. While she is also one of the gentler main characters on this show, it's clear she is at the center of much of the fashion, drama, and situations that are main points of this series.

Dan is a kind spirited young man who becomes a romantic interest for Serena. Dan happens to be "outside" of the loop initially as someone who isn't rich or popular. He is faced with working his way up the food chain (so to speak) in school and in the social circles, with the help of his father, the charming ex one-time rock star wonder Rufus Humphrey (Matthew Settle). Dan also has a younger sister named Jenny (Taylor Momsen) who soon is interested in the popular teen scene and whom Dan decides to look out for and to protect from being hurt in a quest for popularity.

Blair is Serena's best friend (can you say BFF?) but there's a drama between the two characters. Serena once had a moment with her then boyfriend Nate, and it caused all sorts of problems the two needed to work out. Blair can seem a bit selfish and self-centered at times, and she is quick with calling names and cheap shots sometimes but you also see she can have many moments in which she is a kind character and it becomes a bit easier to see how Serena and Blair had had a fair share of moments as close friends (despite also having moments where the opposite could actually be said).

The boyfriend Nate, whom had been at the center of a lot of the huge drama between Blair and Serena, is the quote-on-quote "nice guy" with the charm and grace to be at the top of the chart for anyone looking for a successful person in Upper East Side Manhattan. However, he's also someone with a more complicated side. Indeed, though... Nate is often being fought over by various female characters. Nate just so happens to be best friends with Chuck, who is quite despised amongst many women. Chuck's outright obsessed with making out with as many women as possible and he doesn't care about the fact that he's a womanizer, but Chuck is someone who also has a troubling past and is likewise more complicated than he appears.

The writing on Gossip Girl is much better than one might expect given the type of series it is. I'd suggest that a lot of this success is due to the solid contributions of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Schwartz in particular is one of my favorite television writers. I'm a big fan of the work he did with Chris Fedak on Chuck. Likewise, The O.C. is another rare teen series that has more to offer than one may expect, so this was definitely a series placed in good creative hands.

With the effort on Gossip Girl, Fedak, Savage, and company had a chance to create fascinating characters and storylines that are certainly not high-art but that work far better than one would expect from something best described as a teen soap with all of the big drama one might also expect going along with it. As the characters develop, the series becomes more interesting to behold.

Gossip Girl has involving storylines, fascinating characters, and a lot more to it than the glitz and glamour. With the aid of some fine television directors, it excels even more. You can sense that a lot of effort went into this series creatively behind the scenes. The writing is good, the direction is impressive, and the cinematography is definitely aces. The series offers a lot more than just a couple of worthy factors. This is one of those series that is so expertly produced that it can feel and look like a big budget film even within the realm of the kind of broadcast television one is sure to find on The CW.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is that is has a lot of eclectic and impressive music used throughout the show. The run contains so many good songs from worthwhile artists. It certainly fits the established expectation because Schwartz's series The O.C. contained a countless array of great songs throughout its run. Gossip Girl often has great music from the likes of Bat for Lashes, Air, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Feist, Beck, MGMT, Robyn, and countless other musicians. I absolutely love the fact that so many great musicians have been featured on Gossip Girl.

It might seem doubtful that anyone ever called the show brilliant. It's doubtful as no one would probably go out of their way to call it an example of brilliant television - because it isn't. Yet this is a well-made television series that taps into its own world and audience so well that it's worth stating that this is something the series does that actually displays a sense of brilliance.

This is fun and well-made television. Sure, it's a soap for teens, but it's actually one that is worth checking out.  Gossip Girl is a pop-infused, cotton candy flavored confection that can and does keep audiences entertained and intrigued for hours on end.

Gossip Girl is highly entertaining despite a degree of silliness and over-the-top drama that constantly permeates the show. I have a feeling Gossip Girl will walk away with its own television legacy because of the characters, the journey, the glamour, and everything else contributing to the series success.  This beautifully packaged complete collection should undoubtedly help in establishing its ongoing legacy.


The DVD:


Video:

Gossip Girl is presented on DVD in the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it has received an anamorphic widescreen presentation that is enhanced for newer HDTV displays. The series looks fabulous with its DVD presentation. The colors are uniformly strong and that's only part of it:  the series has consistently good contrast, overall depth, and a clean presentation seems to add an extra element of quality that is befitting for the series. This is a beatifully looking show that is well-represented with a quality DVD presentation across each season.

Audio:

The series is presented with a pleasant 5.1 surround sound presentation that adds a nice layer of high class production elements to this series. The show's main focus in the sound field remains the dialogue, which is clean, clear, and easy to understand. Yet the series music (including the show's score by Transcenders) is excellently reproduced with good bass and emphasis in the surrounds. The series places a lot of emphasis on music and it adds a fashionably cool aspect relevant to the pop-culture landscape that surrounded the series.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.


Additional Screenshots:




Extras:

Every season of Gossip Girl contains numerous Unaired Scenes and a season specific Gag Reel. These features can be found on each of the season sets. Additionally, all of the season sets have booklets that can work as an episode guide (each booklet contains a list of episode titles, a brief plot synopsis of the episode, and the writing/directing credits). There are also numerous images used in these booklets and there is a main cast breakdown for each season.

Select seasons included downloadable audiobooks. Seasons 1 and 2 each contain a Gossip Girl novel (as read by Christina Ricci). Season 6 includes the prequel novel It Had to Be You. The instructions for downloading and accessing these audiobooks are included with these seasons.

Each season of Gossip Girl also includes select supplements that are specific to the season. As these supplements are a bit more in-depth these supplements have been described with greater detail below.

Season 1:

The Beginning, XOXO: Concept to Execution (23 min.) is a making of behind the scenes special featuring interviews with the behind the scenes creative team about starting the series, finding the cast, and featuring stories from the actors about some of their experiences while filming Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl Couture (14 min.) takes viewer into the process of the costume designer in making the costumes for the series. This piece features interviews with the costume designer and some members of the cast and crew.

A Gossip Girl Wedding (5 min.) is a backstage look at the layout and setup of the Gossip Girl wedding from Season 1.

Music Videos have been provided for The Pierces songs "Secret" (3:28) and "Boring" (2:10).

Season 2:

Faces Behind the Fashion (17 min.) explores the individuals who worked on the shows art and fashion elements through interviews with cast, producers, and fashion artists.

Gossip Girl: Chasing Dorota is a series of six webisodes, each in segments about three minutes in length.

Jenny's Fashion Music Video (3 min.) is a video made specifically for episode 9 of the season, There Will Be Blood.

5th Ave. Meets Gossip Girl is an interactive map style tour of the various locations where the series filmed. Each piece shows clips of the location as featured on the show and interviews conducted with cast and crew members. Each piece lasts somewhere between 1 and 3 min.

The Locations:

Manhattan: The Hudson Hotel Rooftop, The Waldorf Apartment, 1 Oak, Housing Works Bookstore/Café, The Box, Capitale, The Palace Hotel, and STK.

Brooklyn and Queens: The Foundry and Grand Prospect Hall

Long Island: The Hamptons, Old Westbury Gardens

Season 3:

Gossip Girl Mode: Interactive Viewing Experience for Episode 16 The Empire Strikes Jack: this is less of an "interactive" viewing experience and more of a supplemental featurette integrated in-between scenes, adding about twenty minutes of interviews about the episode and the cast (well, in addition to the occasional pop-up video style trivia that shows up on a cell-phone themed picture on the corner of the screen).

A Gossip Girl Fabulous Affair (14 min.) is a featurette focused on set pieces such as parties or events which are featured as some of the "big" moments of the show. Josh Schwartz sums this aspect of the show up best by saying they take normal realities and then "crank it up a notch". This featurette focuses on the art director Malchus Janocko and other individuals working on bringing these party elements to reality for the series.

Music Videos are included for "Bitch" by Plastiscines and "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga.

Season 4:

Bisoux a Paris! (10 min.) is a featurette about the show's filming in Paris. You can hear from the behind the scenes crew with information about the location-filming, learn information about the fashion used in the episodes, and hear information from the producers about why the characters needed a story arc in Paris and what the motivations were for these characters.

Exposing Gossip Girl: The Making of Episode 418 (18 min.) is a making of featurette for Season 4's 18th episode, The Kids Stay in the Picture. This feature takes viewers into the writer's room to see story ideas and pitches, to filming actual scenes, to working on locations, to makeup and costume work, to production meetings, to ADR sessions, and more. This is an in-depth making of feature with an array of interviews featuring producers, writers, and artistic staff.

Season 5:

Gossip Girl Turns 100! (16 min.) is a special featurette celebrating the show's achievement in reaching 100 episodes. It features interviews with cast, crew, producers, and other individuals who have worked on the show about its success going on for five seasons and with reaching a milestone.

5 Years of Iconic Style (16 min.) is a featurette about the various fashion styles used on Gossip Girl over the course of its five seasons. It includes interviews with producers and the costume designer, who describes the series as having had "100,000 bagillion clothes changes". Close enough, I imagine.

Season 6:

A Big Farewell to Our Upper East Siders (15 min.) is a nostalgic look back at the series from producers, cast, and writers who worked on Gossip Girl. It has a bigger emphasis on the cast, and is especially a farewell moment for the actors to reflect on their roles on the show.

Gossip Girl Series Retrospective (32 min.) is a longer, more in-depth fond farewell piece that explores the success of the series and the ways in which the show surpassed expectations for audiences and for those making the series. Unlike the "Farewell to Our Upper East Siders" it explores more areas of the show's production. Like it, it is also a fond goodbye to one of the greatest successes in teen dramas on televisions.

Final Thoughts:

Gossip Girl: The Complete Series is the perfect collection for fans of this high quality teen soap, with all the trimmings one would expect for a high quality set. The collection contains a quality art-box to house all six individual seasons. The collector's box is beautiful and adds something special to the value of this complete series release. Longtime fans who have been faithfully collecting the season sets as they have been released separately don't lose out on anything exclusive in the extras section (purchasing the complete set over the individual seasons only adds the collector's art-box, so if you've been collecting the seasons all along you should be OK if you just want to pick up the final season outing).

This collection is ideal for series fans who were patiently awaiting a complete set. It would also make an undeniably fabulous gift for Gossip Girl fans - especially if they don't own the series yet. This release will be an exuberant delight for fans, who will appreciate having a complete series set so that they can revisit the entire show for many years to come.  

To those Gossip Girl fans out there: You know you love it. XOXO.

Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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