Queer Eye For the Straight Guy - The Best of Kyan & Jai's Looking Good
Wellspring // Unrated // $24.98 // June 14, 2005
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted June 22, 2005
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In 10 Words or Less
Grooming and culture self-improvement on one handy DVD

The Show
There's no doubt that the screen-time on Bravo's popular make-over show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is not evenly distributed. Carson Kressley is the star, and the rest find their time to shine when they can. So when it was announced that "Queer Eye" DVDs were being released, it was no surprise to see that Carson's set was the first out of the gate, followed by a set for acclaimed interior designer Thom Felicia and one for experienced food critic Ted Allen. But what about grooming consultant (and the series' resident hunk) Kyan Douglas and culture guide Jai Rodriguez? These two, without the major-league credentials of their castmates, are forced to share their set, splitting time on a best-of.

Like Carson's DVD, every episode from the series' first season is represented, but with just a half-hour per star, there's a lot less of them on the DVD. And considering that Jai is barely on the show as it is, here, he's cut down severely. On the plus side, the editing is of a less whip-fast pace, and you see more of each Straight Guy's treatment. As the physical make-over of each subject is a key, and lengthy, part of each episode, Kyan gets the majority of the time on this disc. Jai's efforts to better the men are highlighted, but as they are mostly mental improvements (read: somewhat boring), there's only so much that can be shown on TV, with the exception of the dance lessons he gives.

The interesting thing about Kyan and Jai's DVD is the scope of the advice they give and the ease of use. The grooming tips and socialization tricks offered are relatively easy and cheap to try and have a better chance of working, versus Carson's (expensive) fashion ideas and Thom's very involved designing tips. Kyan and Jai may be the most effective and useful members of the Fab Five for the average guy.

(Writer's note: As this disc is one of five similar DVDs in this series, there's some parts that are the same, so the following part (in "The Show") is somewhat repeated in each review. Sorry. - FR)

Every episode from the first season is represented on this DVD, as Jai and Kyan's improvements are showcased. Their parts of the episode are shown chronologically, with all the episodes grouped together, so their evaluations for each guy are shown, followed by their suggestions for each guy, and so on. I wasn't certain that this style would work, but it actually makes a lot of sense when watching, and makes for a cohesive flow to the special. The show wraps up with a reel of all of their "Hip Tips," easy improvements for any guy, shown back-to-back-to-back, though alternated between the guys.

On TV, the show is made up of two parts, which is what makes it work well. The tear-down and build up portion is where the humor and information are, while the second half shows the new-and-improved Straight Guy utilizing his new look and confidence in an important event. That second half normally has some emotion involved, and grounds what is a very stylized show in reality. There's also the guys' commentary which is frequently bitchy and fun. This collection only focuses on the first half, with a touch of the second half, which means a lot of what makes the show great is missing. But thanks to just a touch of the couch chat, this DVD beats out Carson's in this respect.

The special is perfect for anyone who only enjoys Kyan or Jai, though it's basically just Kyan all the time. Unfortunately, there's such a small amount of the duo that the disc feels more like a featurette than a real feature. The creators boiled down over 11 hours of show into just an hour, which means there's plenty of material left that fans would like to see.

On one DVD (packaged in a single-width dual-disc white keepcase with a bonus audio CD) there's one 57-minute best-of special. The DVD has an animated full-frame menu, using footage from the show, and options to play the feature or select chapters. The chapter select menus have still previews and titles for each scene. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning. Seems like there would be plenty of room for…say…an episode of the series.

The Quality
The full-frame footage on this DVD is in good shape, though the varying conditions it was shot under affect how it looks. The episodes look as good as they did on TV, though there's a bit of pixilation on straight edges and video noise that's evident now and again against solid spaces of color. There's no obvious dirt or damage, as one would expect.

The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, is Cable-TV standard when talking about the natural dialogue, while the music, made up of high-energy pop and dance music, has more weight to it.

The Extras
Unlike the Carson best-of DVD, there are no DVD extras here. The only extra consists of a bonus CD called Deep Collective. A custom collection of dance music you can spin at your next house party, this disc features 10 tracks from groups I have never heard of. The music is pretty good, and not insanely "rave-ish" enough that it will prevent you from having a conversation while it's on. I assume this is supposed t be Jai's contribution, as he is the "Culture Vulture" and has provided music suggestions for the Straight Guys, but since the guys haven't shown any involvement in this series of DVDs, I doubt it.

Track Listing
1. "Make My Heart" - Jay-J & Halo Varga (feat. Latrice Barnett)
2. "Feel" (Miguel Migs Petalpusher vocal) - Li'sha Project
3. "Saturday" - Baby Doll (feat. M. Thomas)
4. "I've Been Thinking" - Mister O
5. "Tonight" - Movin' (feat. Lou Lou)
6. "Be My Baby" - Jet Set Inc.
7. "Despacito (Te Doy Mi Corazon)" - Dalminjo (feat. Malena)
8. "Spread the Love" - Chuck Love
9. "Singing A Song" - Pawel Kobak
10. "Let's Come Together" - Jeff Bennett's Lounge Experience (feat. Alexandra)

The Bottom Line
If the Carson collection was a disappointment, this one is an insult. Admittedly, Jai has the lowest profile of the Fab Five, getting the least screen time, but splitting this 57-minute feature between him and Kyan does both them and the fans a disservice. Making matters worse, instead of providing a single episode or some outtakes, the 57-minute show is paired with a dance CD that has barely any connection to the show. There's nothing about this set that would be more enjoyable than a videotaped episode of the show. Save your cash and time and wait til a season set is released.

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