I had never seen an episode of Arli$$ before looking at this box set, although I had heard other's reactions to the series. Some felt that it was a really entertaining sports comedy, while just as many felt that it was one of the least funny comedies ever to air on HBO. My personal reaction falls somewhere in the middle – I found the episodes (at least the 13 that are on this 2-DVD set, which are taken from all seven of the show's seasons) enjoyable to watch, but it wasn't the kind of comedy that had me rolling on the floor in laughter.
Robert Wuhl stars as Arliss Michaels, a sports agent with some big name clients and even more big name encounters. No doubt the idea for the series came from the very successful Jerry Maguire feature film – but the character of Arliss is quite different (if not less of a pitchmen for his clients) than the character that Tom Cruise played in Jerry Maguire.
One of the main reasons to watch Arli$$ is for the numerous cameos by sports celebrities that occur in every episode. And although the series draws from every major league sport, it seems to have a particular love for Major League Baseball players and storylines, so fans of professional baseball (of which I am one) should have a good time watching most of the shows in this set.
If there's a downside to this DVD set, it's for the first time viewer, as the set features two episodes from season one (starting with the tenth show – so you won't get to see the pilot here), three from season four, two from season five, one from season six, and five from season seven. Fortunately, the shows are pretty much stand-alone in nature – so there are no on-going plot lines to worry about.
The video is presented full-frame and is generally sharp and free of any defects. It's not the best transfer of a television series that I've seen, but really, there is little to complain about here and viewers should be quite happy with the picture.
The audio is only presented in 2.0 Dolby, but is surprisingly good for a 2.0 track. Being a comedy, most of the episodes feature dialogue with very little in the way of action, so the audio provided here is quite serviceable. There is also a Spanish 2.0 track available, as well as English, French or Spanish subtitles.
Once again, a release of a television series on DVD has left fans high and dry in the extras department. The only extras on this double disc set are a Audio Commentary track on disc two for the episode "Moments To Remember" featuring Robert Wuhl and co-stars Jim Turner, Sandra Oh and Michael Boatman. None of the other twelve shows have commentary tracks. There are also some Cast Bios (the same ones appear on both DVDs); and a Episode Index, although no chapter selection for each episode .
THE BOTTOM LINE
Arli$$ is a series that is really designed for the die-hard sports fan. The bigger a fan you are of sports and the inter-workings of professional sports in particular, the more you are likely to enjoy the episodes.
I had a pleasant time watching Arli$$ but I'm unlikely to re-watch the shows, which makes the DVD set more rental-worthy than recommended for purchase, especially at the listed sales price, which is a little high for a set with so little in the way of bonus material.