While I'd never seen "Family Jewels" until the third season, the series proved to be a mostly enjoyable surprise - it's as scripted as any sitcom (if not somehow moreso on some occasions - one would be forgiven for just considering it a sitcom), but Simmons himself is enough of a character to make for entertaining viewing, and he plays off of his family members well. 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 often very amusing), picky, kind of irritable, more than a little arrogant and very smart.
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 (he describes walking into the NYSE: "It just felt right. A house of money.") 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 (somehow.) Somehow, he's managed to create five seasons worth of reality show material in an era where most shows don't seem to last more than a season or two. Weirdly, could the Gene Simmons of today be considered a role model in some ways? While Simmons still may not be family-friendly, rarely is he not discussing the value of hard work on the series and believing in yourself (in terms of the latter, there's certainly the matter of ego, but he certainly believes in himself.)
The reason that Gene Simmons remains an incredibly successful individual is readily apparent here. However, Simmons sometimes gives the show a slight "Curb Your Enthusiasm" feel, as while he's incredibly successful, he's awkward at best when getting himself out of a situation and despite his business skills, dealing with average people does not always appear to come easy to Gene. In "Dirty Little Secrets", Gene learns a lesson about reading contracts when he finds himself in an awkward situation after learning about the content of a foreign language ad he did is made clear - it's incredibly scripted, but Simmons is superbly entertaining when presented with awkward situations. Remarkably, after this many seasons, the series continues to pull it off - the image of Simmons pushing around a kiddie cart in a grocery store is priceless, and then the show ups the gag. In "Economic Stimulus", he unsuccessfully tries to convince an airline terminal worker who he is when he's forgotten his picture ID. When she asks him if he has a passport, he says, "No, I live in America."
Of course, in pure sitcom fashion, while Gene is off doing business, Shannon - under the influence of meds after injuring herself - somehow "sleep buys" things off the home shopping network that she doesn't remember ordering. When Shannon and sister Tracey head out to sub for Gene on a business trip to wine country (the two together heading to wine country are sort of like a less funny, American "Ab Fab" with Tracey as Patsy), they manage to destroy the wedding dress of another woman getting married at the resort and nearly tank the business deal every step of the way. Of course, they also try to help out the couple whose wedding they nearly ruined.
The series doesn't spare the children, who start to have some brattier moments as the series wears on: Nick moves out in "Movin' Out", only to be told by the apartment manager to keep the noise down. So, what does Nick do: get louder and louder, until he's thrown out of the place during a party, not long after having moved in. He then sneaks back into the house, until Sophie's webcam catches him. The best part of the whole episode: a discussion lasting a few minutes where Gene - despite his business sense - has no concept of technology and needs a lengthy explanation of how a computer can capture images. Meanwhile, in what has become sort of an unintentional running gag, the one Simmons dog continues to wander around the house, looking for attention while the humans are caught up in their drama.
"Family Jewels" isn't classic television by any means, but as reality shows go these days, after 5 seasons the series somehow has managed to continue to be mostly entertaining.
61 4-01 07/Jun/09 Sophie's Sweet 16 Pts. 1&2
62 4-02 14/Jun/09 Memphis Blues
63 4-03 14/Jun/09 Fireman Gene
64 4-04 21/Jun/09 Godfather Gene Pts. 1&2
65 4-05 28/Jun/09 Economic Stimulus
66 4-06 28/Jun/09 Slumber Party
67 4-07 12/Jul/09 The Night from Hell
68 4-08 12/Jul/09 Who Dunnit?
69 4-09 19/Jul/09 Grapes of Wrath
70 4-10 19/Jul/09 Puppy Love
71 4-11 26/Jul/09 Dirty Little Secrets
72 4-12 26/Jul/09 Movin' Out
73 4-13 02/Aug/09 Derby Queen
74 4-14 02/Aug/09 Fresh Meat
75 4-15 09/Aug/09 Gene the Slacker
76 4-16 09/Aug/09 Rootin' Tootin' Gene
77 4-17 16/Aug/09 Sex & Rock n' Roll
78 4-18 16/Aug/09 Letters Lost
VIDEO: "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" episodes are presented in 1.78:1 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: Additional footage - nothing that should have been left in, but some amusing moments.
Final Thoughts: "Family Jewels" isn't classic television by any means, but as reality shows go these days, after 5 seasons the series somehow has managed to continue to be mostly entertaining. The DVD provides fine audio/video quality, as well as one minor extra. Recommended for fans.