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Reba Season 1

Fox // Unrated // December 14, 2004
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted December 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The First Season

When Reba first aired on television, I managed to watch a few episodes. My memories of the show were good enough that I was looking forward to reviewing the first season. However, after watching the entire first season, I can't say that I have very high impressions of the show. However, they're not entirely bad, but they're definitely far from good. Now let's take a look into what the show is about. In the first few minutes of the pilot episode, the entire comical approach of series is outlined. The show is about a dysfunctional family, where each character tends to be extremely over exaggerated and some of them come off a bit too dumb. It was the character roles that I had the most difficulty with. Sure it's great to have a character who is dumb as a brick, they're great for laughs. However, when you start throwing in several of them, it gets really hard to stomach.

The main character is played by country music star Reba McEntire as Reba Hart. Quite frankly, she's the last person I would expect to see in a sitcom, or rather the center of one. It turns out that Reba is a very funny gal. She does well delivering dialogue in a comical fashion, by outlining the funny moments using facial expressions and body language. In this series, Reba is at the center of a quite odd family. In midst of a divorce, Reba is hit with a plethora of problems. First off, her ex-husband Brock (Christopher Rich) is engaged to his twenty year old assistant Barbara Jean (Melissa Peterman), who happens to be pregnant. An additional facet to this odd family is that Reba's daughter Cheyenne (Joanna Garcia) is pregnant and now betrothed to Van (Steve Howey). However, there's yet another catch, as they're both only seventeen, still in high school, and now living under Reba's roof. There are also two other children, the young son Jake (Mitch Holleman) and the serious daughter Kyra (Scarlett Pomers).

In the real world, the situation that this show outlines wouldn't be very comical. In fact, it would be a very serious and dramatic matter. However, the show gets around that by not making any of the character roles serious. From Brock to Van to Jake, the essence of reality seems to be lost upon them. In fact, at times even our main character Reba seems without it. Still, it's the key element to make this situation (and several others that occur throughout the season) comical. Unfortunately, it works sometimes and other times it doesn't work. The major problem that I had with this series was this lack of seriousness. While I do not expect comedies to be dramatic, it's just not very easy when a good number of the characters are outrageously oblivious to the obvious. We have characters like Van who plays a stereotypical dumb jock, as an all-star football player with a good heart and Barbara Jean who is just annoying and clearly a few short of a dozen. Both Brock and Cheyenne also get their fill of stupidity. The other two kids, Jake and Kyra don't really get to play dumb, which is more or less because they don't really add much to the season either. Basically, the biggest achievement with their roles show what a bad father Brock was with his first three children, which is another serious matter that is easily turned into a joke.

Altogether, I felt that the character roles were a very weak part of this series. The comedy just had too much dependency on people acting stupid versus being funny. Overall, they just weren't my favorite sitcom family. However, midway into the first season some of the roles become less annoying and by the end I was starting to like some of them.

As for the content of the first season, the majority of it focuses upon two different aspects. The first is Cheyenne and Van getting accustomed to their new way of life, as both a married couple and future parents, and Reba must get used to life living with them and trying to guide them in the right direction. The other major aspect is Reba, Brock, and Barbara Jean getting accustomed to each other in their very odd relationship. The content of the episodes tend to blend together, with some of the very odd situations coming off funnier than others. Overall, the entire first season did not feel extremely strong. In fact, it comes off a little weak in its delivery of comedy and variety, which was primarily due to the cast. As earlier mentioned, they tended to be way over the top, with too much emphasis on acting stupid than being funny.

Episode Guide
1. Pilot
2. The Honeymoon's Over or Now What?
3. Someone's At the Gyno With Reba
4. You Make Me Sick
5. The Steaks Are High
6. The Man and the Moon
7. Tea and Antipathy
8. Don't Know Much About History
9. Every Picture Tells a Story
10. When Good Credit Goes Bad
11. Meet the Parents
12. A Mid-Semester Night's Dream
13. Brock's Swan Song
14. The Story of a Divorce
15. You May Kick the Bride
16. Vanny Dearest
17. He's Having a Baby
18. She works Hard For Their Money
19. Labor of Love
20. The King and I
21. Up a Treehouse Without a Paddle
22. It Ain't Over Till the Redhead Sings

The packaging for Reba: The Complete First Season is a cardboard box that houses three slim DVD cases. The actual DVDs are dual-sided single layered discs. The first two DVDs and side A of the third disc each have four episodes, with side B of the third disc containing the very last two episodes.

The video is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture is the most impressive aspect of this DVD release, as it is very clean and crisp. There are no noticeable compression artifacts and colors tend to be very rich.

The audio in this DVD release is given in two languages, English and Spanish. For both languages the audio is in the same format, 2.0 Dolby digital stereo surround. The majority of the audio in this release is dialogue driven, which sounds very good with no noticeable distortions. It comes off flat and takes very little advantage of the multiple channels.

The special features for this first season release include deleted scenes for "You May Kick the Bride", "Someone's at the Gyno With Reba", "Tea and Antipathy", three audio commentaries, three featurettes, outtakes/blooper reel, and a music promo for Reba's new album "Room To Breathe". The commentaries are for episodes "Pilot", "When Good Credit Goes Bad", and "You May Kick the Bride". They include cast and crew like Reba McEntire, Melissa Peterman, Steve Howey, Scarlett Pomers, Mitch Holleman, Michael Hanel, Mindy Schultheis, Patti, and Lara Runnels. The first two featurettes are "On the Scene with Barbara Jean" (approximately 26 minutes), which is a behind the scenes tour of the set, and "Creating Reba" (approximately 27 minutes), interviews with cast and crew discussing the creation of the series. The third featurette, "A Conversation with Reba McEntire and Melissa Peterman", is an eighteen minute interview of the two. The last extra is a three and a half minute blooper reel from the first season. Overall, there is a nice mix of special features that should appease the fans. However, I don't see very much reply in them, except perhaps the blooper reel.

Final Thoughts:
At first, I had a really hard to getting into the first season of Reba. The roles of the show's character all tend to be a little bit over the top. While that isn't necessarily bad to have a character or two like that, when you have almost your entire cast fishing for laughs by acting stupid instead of being funny, it gets to be too much. On a positive note, some of the episodes resulted in some pretty funny situations. Even while one of the characters would say the most cliched or stupid things ever, it would still be quite funny. However, the problem is that this occurs over and over again and there just seems to be very little variety in the show's approach to comedy. I suppose that if you've ever really enjoyed a few episodes of Reba, then the first season should be right for you. However, it you do not fall in the latter category, you should probably rent it first.

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