Although I must admit that I'm not a big fan of the show – those who are should be particularly happy with the box set that Showtime has put together for the third season of Queer As Folk. Here are all 14 episodes on four discs, plus a bonus fifth disc loaded with extras, and even a DVD-ROM with some goodies on it.
In case your not familiar with the program, Queer As Folk is basically a soap opera about the sex lives of young people in Pittsburgh, PA (the show is actually filmed in Toronto). Thing of it as a Sex in the City for the gay crowd, and without the comedy as well.
The third season picks up right where season two left off, with young Justin (Randy Harrison) ditching boyfriend Brian (Gale Harold) for new fling Ethan (Fab Filippo), and the other characters' reaction to the new situation. As the third season develops, we'll see the shows one female couple, Melanie and Lindsay discuss the possibilities of having another baby (they already have one child who was fathered by Brian), as well as see a developing new relationship between two of the other characters on the show, Ted and Emmett. Meanwhile, a tough Pittsburgh police chief is cracking down on the gay community, and bad goes to worse when he decides to run for mayor.
Being heterosexual, perhaps I'm not the best person to review this series. However, I do think it plays into stereotypes with many of its characters – who seem to be caricatures of a person who lives a gay lifestyle, rather than complete well-rounded human beings. Plus, being one of the few shows directly geared toward the gay community, I don't think Queer As Folk does itself any favors by portraying the majority of the main characters as bed-hopping, sex hungry people – with the only truly monogamous couple on the show being the two females.
But then again, this show isn't really aimed toward me, and the program does seem to have pretty strong support among the gay community, so who am I to judge. It isn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean the program wouldn't appeal to you.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen and the picture looks great, with only the slightest hint of grain evident. Skin tones are well-balanced and I didn't notice any problems with pixelation on the episodes I watched.
An equally fine job was done with the audio – as each episode is presented in 5.1 Dolby Sound. It's not a particularly aggressive soundtrack – but it does have it's appealing points – especially during the "Babylon" scenes (the club where the guys on the show hang out), when you'll notice your subwoofer working a little overtime in places.
Assuming you're a fan of the program, the extras may be the best reason to pick up this boxed set. In addition to "Next On" segments for each episode, the 14th show (the last episode of Season Three) has a Cast and Producer Commentary track to listen to.
But the real bonuses come on Disc 5, which is just jam-packed with features. There's a 15-minute segment entitled Behind The Camera – The Directors, which covers the various directors who have helmed episodes of the show; followed by a 26-mintue featurette called Behind The Camera With Cast and Crew, which gives the same kind of coverage for the performers and other set workers.
Hot Summer Days is a fun 32-minute segment which shows what happened when various cast members were given cameras to take around with them during the show's hiatus in the Summer of 2003. Another fun section is the Wrap Party Reel, which is 11-mintues of bloopers and outtakes from the program.
Additional bonuses include Enter Babylon: Los Angeles - a traveling tour that recreates the famous club on the show right in your hometown! There's also a "Some Lovin" Music Video, performed by Kristine W.; Quotes, Folks and Notes, which is a bio section for the cast; an Animated Photo Gallery (basically a 4-minute slide show); and a Season 4 Sneak Peak, for those looking for a short preview of what happens next.
Rounding out Disc 5 is a Trailers & Spots section, which has an AIDS awareness ad, an offer to new Showtime subscribers that will get them a $25 rebate, a preview of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, and a ad for the Penn & Teller: Bullshit DVD set.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Granted, this show has a limited audience and it didn't really appeal much to me, but there's no denying that Showtime has done an excellent job putting together this set. If you like the show, picking up the set is a no-brainer. For the rest of you, I'm recommending a rental before making a purchasing decision.