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.
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." Nick on his father's famous hair: "It says 'Made in Japan' right here..." The first group of episodes from the second season focuses a fair amount on the plastic surgery, and afterwards, Gene walks around wrapped in bandages while still trying to conduct business meetings looking like a Mummy.
The episodes from the first season are also pretty amusing, especially "Next Generation Rock Star", where Gene takes too much of an interest in his son's band and, despite the band having creative issues, to their horror Gene books them a show in a couple of days anyways. The other episodes have their share of moments (Gene tries to throw a surprise party and prepares for a concert), but they aren't as funny or eventful as later episodes.
This "Best Of" supposedly offers the "top rated" episodes from the first couple of seasons, but isn't it a rather weird coincidence that these "top rated" episodes happen to be the first four episodes from each of the featured seasons? The same sticker also says these are available "for the first time ever", but they have been available on the season sets. This release is also called a "Collector's Edition". Releasing a "Best Of" isn't preferrable, but if it's going to be done, at least don't try to call it something it isn't.
Season 1 Episodes:
1 Happily Unmarried 8/7/2006
2 Next Generation Rock Star 8/7/2006
3 The Demon Lives 8/14/2006
4 Driving Me Crazy 8/14/2006
Season 2 Episodes:
14 Under the Knife? 3/25/2007
15 A Bun in the Oven? 3/25/2007
16 Gene's Big Mouth 4/1/2007
17 Nice Day For a Facelift 4/1/2007
VIDEO: "The Gene Simmons Family Jewels" 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: "Master Gene Theatre", the "behind-the-scenes" episode from the second season.
Final Thoughts: I think the series is quite entertaining, but this "best of" DVD is rather pointless and - worse yet - tries to pass itself off as something it isn't. This gets a "skip it" because the season sets - which are available for under $20 at Amazon.com currently - are what I'd recommend instead.