In 10 Words or Less
The most straight-laced Queer Eye guy's DVD
Loves: Good food, cooking
Likes: Esquire, Ted
Dislikes: Nouveau cuisine
The Story So Far...
This is one of five "Queer Eye" DVDs released by Genius Productions, the company behind the completely different "Baby Genius" DVDs. Three of the four guys got their own releases, Carson, Thom and Ted, while Kyan and Jai shared a DVD, and the Boston Red Sox special received their own disc. DVDTalk has reviews of the different DVDs, including Carson (here), Kyan and Jai (here), and the Red Sox (here).
Ted Allen knows his stuff when it comes to food and wine, having been involved in the kitchen world for some time now. So when he storms a straight guy's home, their kitchens, an oft-ignored part of the home, are in need of his touch. It's amazing to see just what these guys keep in their fridges, and the startling conditions of their cooking spaces. While I will admit that I don't always have milk on hand, and there's an occasional leftover that's outlived its usefulness, I can whip up a meal if needed with my inventory. That's not the case for most of the guys on this show.
Ted takes the guy shopping and shows them how to cook, and then lets them loose on their own, to try and see if they learned anything from Ted's purposeful lessons. He's something of a split personality, taking on his charges in a very no-nonsense, man-to-man manner, while acting like a goofball with the other Fab Five guys. Because of that, he can be both fun, but extremely educational, moving from a PBS-level cooking instructor with an intense knowledge of exotic food and wine to a smart-alecky gay guy with a great sense of humor and a good German accent.
The food styles for each guy relate a lot to the guy and who he's trying to impress. Whereas one guy is into sushi, another is having his taste for alcohol being refined. Though making dessert for a girlfriend is a big motif, big meat meals like lamb chops and starters such as oysters are also covered, and plenty of Straight Guy Tips from the show, still graphics that explain important concepts, help hammer home the ideas of the show. Then, at the end, the first season of Ted's Hip Tips are played back-to-back-to-back. Ted's bit was often the show's final punctuation, and it is frequently hilarious, even out of the context of the show.
Because Ted has to teach the guys many new skills and impart a lot of information to the guys in order to help them achieve their goals, whether it's making mousse or pate, he can't fool around too much. Most of his comedy comes during the initial raid of the straight-guy's home, and in the final wrap-up observation of the straight guy on his own. Other than that, he's practically a professor for the show's subjects. That feel decreases the energy of the special in comparison to the other guys' DVD, but this is probably the most useable self-help guide of the five Queer Eye DVDs.
In the same standard white keepcase the other "Queer Eye" DVDs were packaged in, you get one Ted DVD and one bonus CD. The first disc, which holds the main feature, has a static, full-frame main menu, which offers the options to play the 52-minute special, select a chapter or check out the special feature. The chapter menus feature still previews and titles for each section. There are no language options, no subtitles and no closed captioning. The second disc is a CD, with 10 tracks.
These full-frame episodes look great, at least as good as they ever did on TV, and often better than they originally looked. There's a small amount of video noise, and some pixilation along harder edges. The color of the show is a big aspect of the series, and here it is well reproduced. Excellent detail and a complete lack of dirt or damage wrap up a nice-looking disc.
There's a pretty nice Dolby Digital 2.0 track on this disc, with a good stereo mix that keeps the sounds separated between the channels, especially the powerful dance music that makes up the series' soundtrack. Dialogue is excellent, coming across clearly. Your receiver won't feel any pain, but then again, neither will your ears.
The first disc has a few extras, all of the same kind. Nine text recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts are included, written with Ted's voice. They can only be flipped through in order, which is disappointing, as the screens are designed in a way that makes it seem like there are more navigation options than there are. The recipes are all from the series, and all sound pretty good.
Also included is a bonus CD, entitled Lounge Essentials, which makes for nice background music at your next dinner party. Similar to the CD that came with the Jai/Kyan DVD, the songs on this disc aren't too heavy, but these are definitely more laid back. Also different from the other CD, there are actually groups you may have heard of here, including the always-excellent Thievery Corporation. It's a nice bonus that fits in with the feel of the DVD.
The Bottom Line
As the food and wine guy of the Fab Five, Ted often leads the straight guys into wholly uncharted areas, which make up a big part of the episodes' changes, and as a result, he gets a lot of screen time. This special collects his cuisine counseling, which unlike the other collections, leaves out much of the other four Fab Fivers. Because of that, the special can get a bit dry and straightforward at times, but Ted manages to keep things interesting anyway. While the disc looks and sounds quite nice, the bonuses, though appropriate for the disc, won't excite much, unless you plan to put Ted's words into action. A rental should satisfy, though self-improvers could use the disc as reference.