I'd never seen "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels" before sitting down to watch this second season, and I have to say that my expectations of the A & E show were low. I expected another "Osbournes" and really, can you blame me? What I got was a very pleasant surprise, and such an improvement upon MTV's reality series.
The series stars the Simmons family: former rocker Gene, his wife (er, I mean, girlfriend, as Gene doesn't believe in marriage) Shannon Tweed and kids Nick and Sophie. Gene is darkly funny (there's a deadpan humor that's frequently hysterical), picky, kind of irritable, more than a little arrogant and very smart. The reason that Gene Simmons remains an incredibly successful individual is readily apparent here. This is not a rock star who relies on others to do his business (although he does have people he works with), this is a rock star who is always thinking business and always coming up with his own ideas, as crazy as some of them may be. Plus, he's done a remarkable job keeping Kiss relevant and in the public eye, and has unleashed a wave of Kiss-related products without the audience calling it overdone.
This is also a man who, as he notes, absolutely hates losing any money - even a penny - which makes one episode where Shannon bets $100,000 of his money at the Kentucky Derby without him knowing particularly amusing. In another episode, he rents an RV with an ad for a sexual enhancement supplement because the $25,000 they're going to pay him to drive it around will pay for their vacation and then some. It's a very staged scene, but it's still damn funny as they drive down the highway. When Gene doesn't have a hotel room reserved in his name, he asks the clerk to, "look under One-Thousand Dollars." Son Nick: "I threw a penny out the window once and he yelled at me." Sophie: "How do you stop a baby from crying?" Gene: "Give it money."
As arrogant (in a funny, deadpan way) as Gene can be, his family delights in poking fun at him, especially son Nick. Nick to his mother: "So, is dad fun?" Shannon: "No...well...no." Nick: "Well, then I'm glad they didn't give him his own show." In the first episode, Gene and Shannon are pondering plastic surgery. Nick: "What if dad comes back looking like Tom Jones?" Sophie: "Mom loves Tom Jones."
The first group of episodes focuses on the plastic surgery, and afterwards, Gene walks around wrapped in bandages while still trying to conduct business meetings looking like a Mummy. Other highlights include a camping episode, a couple of episodes where Gene ponders buying an island and turning it into Genetopia, as well as the previously mentioned Kentucky Derby bet episodes (Gene tries selling his $100,000 bet ticket that Shannon made for $90,000 to any celeb that passes by) and a London trip with a royal ending.
Overall, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" was a really pleasant surprise. Simmons is a very amusing character and despite the demonic image, the show shows that he's not such a bad guy, and he and Shannon seem to be good parents.
14. 2- 1 25 Mar 07 Under the Knife?
15. 2- 2 25 Mar 07 A Bun in the Oven?
16. 2- 3 1 Apr 07 Gene's Big Mouth
17. 2- 4 1 Apr 07 Nice Day For a Facelift
18. 2- 5 8 Apr 07 Face Off
19. 2- 6 15 Apr 07 Stir Crazy
20. 2- 7 22 Apr 07 Snowblind
21. 2- 8 29 Apr 07 Coming Out Party
22. 2- 9 6 May 07 The Wingman
23. 2-10 20 May 07 Uncle Gene Wants You
24. 2-11 3 Jun 07 Growing Pains
25. 2-12 10 Jun 07 Master Gene Theatre
26. 2-13 17 Jun 07 British Invasion
27. 2-14 8 Jul 07 All Grown Up
28. 2-15 15 Jul 07 Rich Dad
29. 2-16 22 Jul 07 Alpha Male
30. 2-17 29 Jul 07 Sucker Bet
31. 2-18 29 Jul 07 And They're Off!
32. 2-19 5 Aug 07 Trapped in Paradise
33. 2-20 12 Aug 07 Genetopia
34. 2-21 19 Aug 07 Fact or Fiction?
VIDEO: "The Gene Simmons Family Jewels" season 2 episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality is generally excellent, with good sharpness and detail throughout the episodes. Some minor shimmering was spotted on a couple of occasion, but the picture was otherwise clean and clear. Colors remained bold and bright, with no smearing.
SOUND: Crisp, clear stereo soundtrack.
EXTRAS: Bonus episode: "It's Been a Very Good Year" and additional couch interviews.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" was really very entertaining and exceeded my expectations. Simmons is a very amusing character and despite the demonic image, the show shows that he's not such a bad guy, and he and Shannon seem to be good parents. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a couple of decent extras. Recommended.