Girlfriends: The Third Season (TV)
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (17th February 2008).
The Film

There has been only one series to date that I've seen in which the principal characters are all women. That would be "Sex and the City" (1998-2004), which originally premiered on HBO. I've managed to watch most every season, until I lost interest in it. I know there have been other series in the past in which women were the central characters: "The L Word" (2004-Current) and "227" (1985-1990) to name a few. Oh, I just remembered that I did catch a few episodes of "The Facts of Life" (1978-1988) back in the mid 1980's. Now that I'm watching this third season of "Girlfriends" (2000-Current), it reminds me of "Sex and the City" in the fact that it involves four women trying to play the relationship game. And, okay, even though "Friends" (1994-2004) had only a half-female, half-male principal cast, it is a similar series. "Friends" was definitely a good series for what few seasons I was able to watch on DVD. I'm only hoping that "Girlfriends" will be as good a series as "Sex and the City" or "Friends". Read on and find out.
"Girlfriends: The Third Season" continues the story of four of the sexiest and most sophisticated girlfriends that L.A.'s ever seen. This hit comedy series is Executive Produced by Kelsey Grammer and created by Mara Brock Akil. Watch this hilarious season and see ambitious lawyer Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), her sharp-tongued assistant Maya (Golden Brooks), free-spirited roommate Lynn (Persia White), best friend Toni (Jill Marie Jones), and their friend William (Reggie Hayes) as they ring wedding bells, deal with vertically challenged boyfriends, contemplate Botox, and lose suitcases as life, love and comedy collide once again.
I liked that the series doesn't just take place on a couple of pre-fabricated sets and that's it. Just by watching the first episode of this season, you see the different locations that are used. There are even scenes that are shot outside. At least this conveys realism. I also enjoyed how the four ladies got along, in spite of some of their competing differences. At least they're not anything like "The Odd Couple" (1970-1975). Groan!! I also liked that each character has continuing storylines. In other words, a single twenty-one minute episode doesn't resolve everything. In fact, the beginning of the season reveals that Maya and Darnell are married, but separated. Obviously, if I would have been able to have watched both seasons, I would have been able to fill in the blanks. Even though this is a sit-com, it takes itself seriously. It's not just one stupid joke after another.
The downsides? While the episodes are good, I'm not certain it entirely works as a comedy? This series could easily have been a drama. There are certainly enough dramatic moments played out through this season. There were even a few tear-jerking moments. Still, in spite of this being a comedy, twenty-one minutes of time can pass very quickly with each episode. That's good.
My final word: Okay, while this series isn't sexually-based like "Sex and the City", and while it doesn't have the co-ed atmosphere of "Friends", just by watching this third season of "Girlfriends" I know that this series stands out all on its own. It's definitely got magic, or it still wouldn't be on the air in spite of The WB becoming The CW. If you're like me and have never seen this series before, then it's at least worth the view.

This set includes all 25 season three episodes:

- "Coming To Terms" (20:59) Singles Welcome! Joan throws a party hoping to find someone and totally strikes out. Then, she decides to hit the road and starts training for a marathon. It's been weeks and Maya still can't get Darnell to open up.

- "Getting Our Act Together" (20:58) A pastor helps Maya and Darnell pick up the pieces of their marriage. Maya finds the therapy doesn't do nearly as much good as an afternoon in bed. It's bottoms up when Lynn lowers the bar as the world's most inexperienced bartender.

- "Secrets and Eyes" (21:00) A birthday plan of Joan's exposes something about birthday girl Toni she didn't want anyone to know : her real age. Then after a bungled Botox treatment, Toni turns to a plastic surgeon to make her feel younger.

- "Star Craving Mad" (20:58) Joan has a love / hate relationship with an actor she met working out. Then William's sister has a couple of surprises. First, she's gay, and second, she wants him to be a sperm donor for her interview.

- "Don't Leave Me A Loan" (20:59) Lynn's got an outstanding loan that's killing her parents' credit rating, so now they want her to get a job and pay up. Then, Lynn's friends rally and help her get her head together for her interview.

- "Invasion of the Gold Digger" (20:57) Everyone hates William's obnoxious girlfriend, Monica. She even talks him into abandoning a case he has agreed to work on with Joan to further his own ambitions at the office. Meanwhile, Toni clicks with Dr. Garrett, a plastic surgeon. There's just one problem . . . his height.

- "Blinded By the Lights" (20:58) Ellis' new movie has its bit premiere and Joan's invited, as long as she doesn't act like they're together and helps him retain his single status. Then, he tries to do damage control by doing a magazine interview with her.

- "Handling Baggage" (21:00) Darnell is caught with another woman at Red Lobster. Maya thinks that now that they've both crossed the same line, it's time to sit down and decide where their relationship is headed.

- "The Mommy Returns" (20:59) Sandy, Lynn's bio-mom, shows up unexpectedly at Joan's place. They become fast friends until Lynn is shocked by Sandy's actions. Then Lynn quits her job to work on a film about sexuality.

- "A Little Romance" (20:58) Todd protects Toni and she loves him for it, but she still can't wrap her head around being with a short guy.

- "Santa v. Monica" (20:58) To pump up Jabari's belief in Santa, William plans to don the big red suit. Then, Monica plans for him to host the yuletide party for the partners on the same night. It's a Christmas conflict with no easy out.

- "Take This Poem and Call Me In the Morning" (20:59) Lynn gets the hots for a poet until she finds out that he hasn't been hot for anyone in five years. Meanwhile, William struggles to get the girls to forgive him after the Christmas fiasco.

- "Howdy Partner" (20:58) It's Joan vs. William for partner at the firm until there's an upset on both sides and the company brings in someone from the outside. They both want to walk out, but will they have the guts to go through with it?

- "Single Mama Drama" (20:59) Joan feels that Maya's friendship with another single parent, the cleaning woman at the Law office, is going to hurt her chances with Darnell. Lynn pulls a bogus birthday con to get cash gifts from her fellow workers.

- "Happy Valentine's Day...Baby?" (20:58) When Todd gives Toni a tasteless Valentine, she's worried that he only wants her because she's an African-American. Ellis wants Joan to have the most romantic Valentine's Day ever, but everything changes when he finds out that his former girlfriend is pregnant and he's the father.

- "A Stiff Good Man Is Easy To Find" (20:59) When Toni lets the "M" word slip out, the talk of marriage causes a relationship crash. Toni disappears, leaving Todd to beg for help from her friends. When they show him that Toni truly cares for him, he's forced to face how he really feels about her.

- "Runaway Bridesmaid" (20:58) William, Lynn & Maya pool their resources to be able to afford something special on Joan's gift list. Jealous over Toni's plans to marry, Joan tries to lose herself by gearing up for a major marathon.

- "The Pact" (20:59)
Joan goes ballistic with Reese, the woman who moved in on her boyfriend, is asked to be Toni's bridesmaid.

- "Where Everybody Knows My Name" (21:00) Maya sees Darnell in an old familiar place, but finds out everything's changed. William takes a shot at his lifelong fantasy . . . to dance on Soul Train.

- "Too Much Sharin" (20:59) William is still hot and heavy for Sharon. Joan tell Sharon she knows about them, causing Sharon to immediately dump William. Livid, William wants nothing to do with Joan, causing Maya to wonder what's really going on.

- "Blood Is Thicker Than Liquor" (20:59) Toni is petrified that she will mouth off to Todd's parents about how much she dislikes that they are Jewish. Meanwhile, William feels his friendship's in jeopardy when his buddy starts seeing Maya.

- "The Fast Track and the Furious" (21:02) Maya's hope for big bucks leads her to pressure William to hire her as his helper. During a trip with Toni to Virginia Lynn finds out a frightening fact about Sandy's well-being.

- "The Wedding: Part 1" (20:59) All is not well on the way to the church. Toni is furious at the distracted Joan for not being there for her and bans her from the ceremony. Uncomfortable with their history together, Sivad forces Lynn to leave.

- "The Wedding: Part 2" (20:59) I do, I don't, I just don't know. As the wedding approaches, an angry Todd disappears. Joan begs to be back in the wedding party.

Video

Each episode is presented in anamorphic widescreen format (1.78:1 ratio). The fine print on the back states "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." I do not know which episodes (if any) were edited since I was never able to watch this series. Although there are no chapter selection menus, each episode does have chapter stops. As for the video quality itself, the picture looks great, like most of the CBS DVD series from Paramount. Every once in a while, you get the grain, but it is quickly dismissed since it is brief. On each of the four DVD's, you can play the episodes individually or you can have a continuous marathon by selecting the 'Play All' option. I was wondering if the widescreen presentation presented here was a full screen image cropped in order to make the widescreen format. After watching the featurettes on the second and fourth discs and seeing the episodes that the clips were taken from, I know that this is definitely not the case. You actually see the whole picture with Widescreen : every episode.

Audio

Each episode is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack. There are no subtitles available whatsoever. The audio is loud at my normal setting on the DVD player. In fact, I had to turn the volume down from my usual 50 to 40 in order to make it sound normal. Even the laugh tracks are very evident. Also, like nearly every CBS DVD series I have reviewed, the fine print is there on the back cover that states "Some music has been changed for this home entertainment version." Having never been able to watch this series, since I didn't have The WB or The CW (still don't), I don't know which music is original and which is not.

Extras

Paramount has includes a bonus trailer reel and two featurettes packed into this release. Below are the extras in detail on each disc. Please note: The featurettes contain spoilers. Do not watch them before finishing the season.

DISC ONE:

The first disc features the following bonus trailers which play before the start of the Main Menu only:
- "Girlfriends: The Second Season" which runs for 16 seconds.
- "Jericho: The First Season" which runs for 31 seconds.
Note: This option can only be selected on a sub-menu before reaching the Main Menu. They cannot be selected any other way.

DISC TWO:

Disc 2 has a featurette called "It's What You Wear That Counts". It runs for 17 minutes and 24 seconds. Here, you will see interview clips with Executive Producer Mara Brock Akil and Costume Designer Stacy Beverly, who go into details about what clothes it will take to help make these characters who they are. You also get some interview footage with most of the principal cast themselves. In a nutshell, this featurette definitely conveys the message that clothes definitely make the character. The series footage is presented in full screen format, while the interview footage is in letterboxed widescreen format.

DISC THREE:

There are no extras on this disc.

DISC FOUR:

Disc 4 has a featurette called "Here Comes the Bride: An Invitation Inside 'The Wedding'". It runs for 20 minutes and 52 seconds and starts out with Executive Producer Mara Brock Akil talking about how huge the two-part season finale was, including having talked her husband into directing it. You also get to hear from Salim Akil himself. Of course, you also get interview footage from most of the principal cast members themselves. It is more or less reminiscing about filming the finale, also talking about the chemistry between the characters. The series is presented in full screen format, while the interview footage is in letterboxed widescreen format.

Packaging

"Girlfriends: The Third Season" is a 4-DVD set with all four discs packed into a single clear Amaray keep case. The episode summaries and original airdates are printed on the inside of the cover art.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: B Overall: A-

 


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