A tabloid mainstay after she gained weight, former "Cheers" actress Kristie Alley decided to try and turn things to her advantage with a show where she takes her situation lightly. While watching the series, it becomes pretty apparent that Showtime was looking for their own version of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm".
"Fat Actress", created by Kristie Alley and "7th Heaven"(!)'s Brenda Hampton, "Actress" stars Alley as herself, an actress who finds herself looking for work in a town where thin is, unfortunately, still in. Assisted by her agent, Sam (Michael McDonald from "Mad TV"), her assistant (Brian Callen, also of "Mad TV") and her make-up girl (Rachel Harris), the show watches Alley try to get her career back and find romance.
The series does work in some ways and becomes uncomfortable in others. Some of the little one-liners and jokes get a laugh (see the first episode, where Alley tries to talk John Travolta into doing a fourth "Look Who's Talking"), but the central subject is a bit rough. While Alley does take her weight situation lightly, the series tends to reinforce negative stereotypes from the media and often seems downright mean (everyone who sees Alley in the show stops and goes, "Can you believe how FAT she got?".) In another episode, actress Leah Remini jokes that she's feeling "Kirstie Alley fat." Although it's supposed to be "all a joke", the series takes things a little over-the-top and each episode has the actress trying to utterly embarass or humiliate herself for a laugh.
Some of the show's other positives include the occasional guest stars. Mayim Bialik, who hasn't been seen on television since "Blossom", guest stars as herself in a couple of episodes, including one where she sharply suggests to Alley that she's overweight because she lives in such a big house. If she moves into a smaller environment, maybe she'll be smaller. Bialik's performance as Alley's neighbor is impressively nasty, and it's fun to see the actress back delivering a completely different tone. NBC Exec Jeff Zucker isn't too bad either as a TV exec in the series. The show's supporting cast isn't bad either, although McDonald isn't as funny here playing a straightforward role as he is on "Mad TV".
Overall, I felt pretty mixed about "Fat Actress", as although there are some amusing one-liners and amusing guest star efforts, the show's core joke (people going, "Boy, Kristie Alley got fat!") gets tired quickly.
1. 1- 1 Big Butts
2. 1- 2 Charlie's Angels
3. 1- 3 Holy Lesbo Batman
4. 1- 4 The Koi Effect
5. 1- 5 Crack For Good
6. 1- 6 Cry Baby McGuire
7. 1- 7 Hold This
VIDEO: "Fat Actress" is presented by Showtime in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is mostly quite good, as the image appears mostly crisp and detailed, although there are some minor moments here-and-there that look a little softer in comparison. No edge enhancement is present, but some slight shimmering and a couple of traces of pixelation are spotted. Colors are bright and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Fat Actress" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, although with a comedy like this, there's not much of a need for 5.1 audio. The presentation puts the rear speakers to some minor use, but the majority of the sound comes from the front. Audio quality is perfectly fine, with clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: The first four episodes offer commentary tracks: 2 episodes get commentary from actors Alley, Harris and Callen and 2 get commentary from producers Brenda Hampton and Sandy Chesley. The producer's commentary is a bit less lively than the actor's track, as the two producers offer an enjoyable, but fairly low-key discussion of the development of the series and working with the other actors. The actor's tracks aren't too informative, but they're a bit more fun, as the three chat and joke about the episodes at hand.
Also included on the second disc are: a brief "making of" piece, premiere party footage, deleted scenes, showtime short interview clips, bios, previews and a DISH network promo.
Final Thoughts: "Fat Actress" tries to be "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and it doesn't reach those heights. I felt mixed about the series, as despite some funny moments and good performances, the humor eventually became a bit repetitive. Showtime's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, although with a nice helping of supplements. Rent it.