Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (26th September 2009).
The Show

"Ugly Betty" is a show that I have never really harbored any sort of interest for, and for multiple reasons. Reason #1: It looked zany. And I hate zany. Reason #2: It’s about the fashion industry, and if it isn’t "Zoolander" (2001) or a Bret Easton Ellis book, then I’m not interested in the fashion industry. Reason #3: I have a fundamental disagreement with the way the show is marketed. Back when "Ugly Betty" first started, it was hailed as the show that pushed forward a positive and realistic female lead that “normal” or “ugly” girls could look up to. But at the same time, the lead character is played by the extremely attractive America Ferrera, and she is “uglied” up for her character. For me, this just reinforces that even the pretty girls are taking ugly roles.

That being said, I had to watch the 3rd season not only with an open mind, but barring with that I have no idea what the show is really about. The set comes with a short catching-up video for the uninitiated, and after introducing me to the wacky cast of characters involved in the fashion industry, I grit my death and dove right in. Now that I’m on the other side, and can add reason #4 to my list: This show just isn’t that good.

The run down is that Betty (America Ferrera) is larger than normal girls, has braces, and is very eccentric, but is just beaming with “inner beauty”. She works at Mode fashion magazine, run by Daniel (Eric Mabius), and works alongside some other colorful characters, such as Marc (Michael Urie), the eccentric (or rather ugly stereotype) openly gay assistant to one of the heads of the company. His best friend Amanda (Becki Newton), a receptionist for Mode, is at times both a heartless harpy and saving grace for Betty. All the characters seem to run into each other a lot, wearing colorful costumes and yelling quite a bit. I know there’s a little more to it, but a 3 minute refresher course at the beginning of the season can only do so much.

The main story arches of the season include a power struggle to take over the magazine, Betty getting her own apartment, Amanda and Betty becoming roommates, her father Ignacio (Tony Plana) gets a nurse, and Betty falls in love numerous times. While the series sports an aloof vibe, at it’s core, the show reminded me of a soap opera, and sometimes had plot twists that would even make "As The World Turns" (1956-Present) blush. Here lies one of the main problems with this show. From my point of view, "Ugly Betty" has no idea what kind of show it wants to be. It comes off as an insanely muddled mix of drama, completely “out there” humor, and social commentary on the fashion industry, and it never really succeeds at any of these because the other genres seem to be pulling it back towards something else.

In the end, "Ugly Betty" was just too annoying for me to garner any sort of enjoyment out of. The pacing is way too fast, the characters are for too over done, and I just can’t care about a toned-down look at the fashion industry. I know the show isn’t meant for me, but I honestly can’t imagine this show “being for” anyone that I respect.

The 3rd season episodes are:

- "The Manhattan Project"
- "Filing For The Enemy"
- "Crimes of Fashion"
- "Betty Suarez Land"
- "Granny Pants"
- "Ugly Berry"
- "Crush’d"
- "Tornado Girl"
- "When Betty Met Yeti"
- "Bad Amanda"
- "Dress For Success"
- "Sisters On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown"
- "Kissed Off"
- "The Courtship Of Betty’s Father"
- "There’s No Place Like Mode"
- "Things Fall Apart"
- "Sugar Daddy"
- "A Mother Of A Problem"
- "The Sex Issue"
- "Rabbit Test"
- "The Born Identity"
- "In The Stars"
- "Curveball"
- "The Fall Issue"

Video

"Ugly Betty" is presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio transfer, and in terms of quality, I am conflicted. As far as DVD's go, this looks pretty good. "Ugly Betty" is a pretty colorful show, and the DVD picture does a service to the show’s style, but at the same time, in the day and age of Blu-rays, this set really shows the age behind DVD. There is just some sort of fuzzy glaze that goes over every picture, and colors aren’t as bright as I know they would be in a newer format.

Audio

"Ugly Betty" is presented in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track, with optional English for the hearing impaired, French, and Spanish subtitles. The audio transfer is this set shining gem, as it rings out clear and moves at a great pace. While the show has incredibly annoying music and dialogue, it was hard at first to appreciate the subtleties behind the audio tracks of the show, but when a character yells offscreen, and you look behind to see if someone just yelled at you inside your house, you know that they are doing something right.

Extras

"Ugly Betty" season 3 comes with a few extras sprinkled throughout all six discs, including an audio commentary, a video commentary, deleted scenes, making-of featurette, video clips, bloopers, and more. They are described below:

DISC ONE:

First up is the "Starter Kit" introduction video, the aforementioned video that is meant to catch up people unfamiliar with the show, and it runs for 3 minutes and 35 seconds. While I ended up not liking the show, I found it much easier to cope with when I knew what the story was some what, so this feature was appreciated.

Next is "Mode After Hours" video clips, a series of videos starring Amanda and Marc working late and having fun. They two tend to talk a ton of trash about other people in the office, usually end up imitating them to a degrading affect. Overall, these are just an extension of the show, and I don’t like the characters (Marc being my least favorite, as I find is “gayness” to be extremely homophobic), so these did nothing for me. They are:

- "Gwadalaharahh" which runs for 2 minutes and 42 seconds.
- "Friend-iversary" which runs for 3 minutes and 29 seconds.
- "Bowling for Cliff" which runs for 3 minutes and 54 seconds.
- "Slumber Party Secrets" which runs for 3 minutes and 48 seconds.
- "Sommers Séance" which runs for 3 minutes and 32 seconds.
- "Trapped in the Elevator" which runs for 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

Next up is some deleted scenes, all of which are short and pretty pointless. They are:

- "What Are You Doing Here?" running for 54 seconds, in which Stuart is confronted for his drug habit.
- "Don’t Let That Foam Fizzle" running for 1 minute and 13 seconds, in which Betty and Daniel talk about his absence.
- "Lettuce" running for 48 seconds, in which Betty assists a receptionist in making dinner reservations.

DISC TWO:

First up is a full length audio commentary on the episode "Crush’d". The track features executive producers/writers Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally, and episode director Victor Nelli Jr., the overall mood of the commentary was very laid back, and that was a relief. A part of me dreaded to hear a serious comedy of a silly show, but the three joke around allot but at the same time offered some insight into the show, making this a somewhat engaging track.

This disc also includes a few deleted scenes, and just like the previous, they are mostly very short and still very pointless. They are:

- "A Bitch Never Changes Her Stripes" running for 43 seconds, in which Betty calls her sister for advice.
- "You Are My Hag" running for 46 seconds, in which Marc and Amanda discuss the state of their friendship.
- "The Roof" running for 37 seconds, in which Marc heads to the roof party and bumps into Betty.
- "Go Get’Em" running for 42 seconds, in which Betty attempts to rally the troops of Mode after she is left in charge.
- "You Must Be Molly" running for 1 minute and 58 seconds, in which Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams), spies on Molly.

DISC THREE:

The sole feature on the third disc is a single delete scene:

- "No Shoes!" running for 40 seconds, in which Amanda and Betty form an alliance.

DISC FOUR:

This disc only sports two deleted scenes, and they are:

- "Either Way I’m Cool" running for 43 seconds, in which Amanda and Betty talk about her cute neighbor.
- "Good Amanda" running for 1 minute and 12 seconds, in which Amanda defends Betty’s honor.

DISC FIVE:

This disc features a video commentary for the episode "The Sex Issue". It features cast members Michael Urie and Beckie Newton as they sit back and watch the episode. Their image takes up half the screen, and the actual show is so small that I couldn’t tell what they were commenting on exactly. The two are rather annoying, as they seem to stay in character somewhat, acting just as foolish as they do on the show. The commentary has a few “surprise guests” who suddenly appear as talking heads intercut with the commentary. I don’t know why all of a sudden people are so excited about video commentaries, but I just find them irritating.

DISC SIX:

First on this disc is "Coming Home to New York City" featurette, which runs for 12 minutes and 43 seconds. This mini documentary shows how the production of the show moved from L.A. to N.Y. over the course of 8 weeks. It includes interviews with cast and crew, in which they explain the not having the show actually filmed in the big apple was making the show miss something. It was most interesting to see how the show was filmed in L.A. originally with cleverly placed green screens.

"Mode After Hours" video clips are back with two videos in which Marc and Amanda make prank calls, posing as people from the office, and go people watching with some binoculars. See my above opinion on this feature. The two videos are:

- "Prank Calls" which runs for 3 minutes and 25 seconds.
- "I Spy" which runs for 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

The disc also includes a few deleted scenes and they are:

- "You Can Say Wow To Anyone You Set Your Mind To" running for 1 minute and 29 seconds, in which Betty and Daniel talk shop over the magazine.
- "Padded Walls" running for 17 seconds, in which Amanda recounts her latest sexual triumph.
- "I Feel Like I’m Dating Daniel" running for 1 minute and 6 seconds, in which Betty vents her worries about her date’s previous partners.

Lastly is "Betty Bloops", which runs for 8 minutes and 39 seconds, which acts, naturally, as the season’s blooper reel. It’s good to see people having fun on a set, but watching people flub their lines and then laughing gets really old, especially when you are watching it for nearly ten minutes.

Overall

The Show: D Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: C

 


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