Dirt: The Complete First Season (TV)
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (29th December 2007).
The Show

It never fails. Every time I go and do my grocery shopping every weekend, I always see them at the checkouts. I'm referring to, of course, the tabloids. You've got so many magazines just sitting on the racks waiting to be picked up. I myself refuse to read stuff like that, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. I'm always noticing that those same publications appear either weekly or monthly, and are still in publication year after year. Why is that? Because they make money...Because people buy them like they're going out of style. It doesn't matter whether what's published in them is true or not. People want to read the latest gossip about the stars that are a household name, and it doesn't matter what category of entertainment it falls under: sports, movies, television, music, etc...Now we come to Courteney Cox-Arquette who is the star of a new series about tabloids. This wouldn't be her first time playing a tabloid journalist, though. In the popular horror hit "Scream" (1996), she plays tabloid reporter Gale Weathers, who works for a TV magazine show called 'Top Story.' It was also on the set of "Scream" where she ended up meeting her husband David Arquette. Now Courteney is back in the tabloids again, this time playing an editor-in-chief in a new FX series entitled "Dirt" (2007-Current). She and her husband, David co-producing the series and so far only one season has been made with a second season forthcoming.
"Dirt: The Complete First Season" takes you into the private lives of popular stars. 'Dirt Now', a magazine helmed by Lucy Spiller (Cox-Arquette) publishes tabloid journalism. As she states in the 'Pilot' episode, they only go after the facts. In the 'Pilot' alone, you get the idea that they get the facts by any means necessary. Paparazzi are utilized, and they know how to get the dirt on anyone and everyone. In fact, when a basketball star has sex with a stripper at his private residence, it is anything but private when schizophrenic photographer Don Konkey (Ian Hart) is on the job. I won't say what he discovers during the affair. You'll just have to see it for yourself. You'll even see how the stripper-basketball player affair was orchestrated to begin with. In one scene after another Don gets the photos by and:I mean ANY:means necessary. In this series, you're going to meet people who have achieved fame and fortune and find it very hard to hold on to without surrendering to their own personal demons. One such character is Julia Mallory (Laura Allen). The whole season covers her story, but it's not entirely focused on her. The summaries for each episode are posted further down (each taken from the Internet Movie Database).
I liked that this series takes itself seriously. After all, tabloid journalism happens every day. Why do you think that there are so many publications waiting to be read (and it's not just in the United States alone)? I also liked seeing what methods the paparazzi utilize in order to get the cold hard facts. "Dirt" covers nothing up or candy-coats its subject matter. It's the non-stop drama that keeps this series every bit as interesting from episode to episode and its one series where nearly everybody is not who they seem. I also like that this series shows that Courteney Cox-Arquette can play another type of role, since most people know that she's capable of comedies, thrillers, horror films, and now a drama like "Dirt". What I didn't like was seeing the demons that those who have achieved stardom exposed, their private lives more or less. Poor Julia Mallory goes downhill after being fired from her sit-com. Then she goes further downhill into drugs. After getting out of rehab, she goes further downhill yet. Yes, "Dirt" shows you that stars are seldom perfect. In fact, they are only human and have weaknesses like everybody else. At least "Dirt" is fiction based on real life, which makes it a great series to watch. The one thing that was a downer for me was Lucy's stalker storyline towards the end of the season and how it ended in the finale. What offsets this is that there's more to the stalker storyline than meets the eye. Just when you think you've got the whole story, you really don't. It's like a tabloid, huh? Things are often seldom what they seem. And, yes, there's also a cliffhanger. Anyway, a series like this needs to have one in order to keep viewers coming back for more.

This package includes all 13 Season 1 episodes:


- "Pilot" (54:50) Lucy Spiller is the ruthless and scheming editor of "Dirt" and "Now" magazines, two Hollywood tabloid newspapers, who's masterful at using threats and manipulation to dig up dirt. Aided by resourceful schizophrenic paparazzi Don Konkey, Lucy zeros in on struggling actor Holt McLaren (Josh Stewart), who needs favorable publicity and whose rising-star girlfriend, Julia Mallory, is well-connected to some drug dealers.

- "Blogan" (47:39) Lucy sends Don to shoot Kira Klay's corpse, but Kira (Shannyn Sossamon) looks all too lively to him. Don also gets a visit from basketball star Prince Tyreese (Rick Fox) who has information about the location of a murdered rap star. Meanwhile, Holt looks for ways to help the drug-addicted Julia. Willa McPherson (Alexandra Breckenridge), the naïve new intern, shows journalistic spunk in tracking down dirt on a Hollywood power couple known as "Blogan."

- "Ovophagy" (48:03) When "Dirt Now", a new magazine combined from "Dirt" and "Now", is about to launch a new cover story, Lucy suspects that drugs made an ailing Christian-pop star sick. She dispatches Don to get the dirt. Meanwhile, Holt is courted by a major producer while Julia has a hard time back on the set of her sit-com due to her accelerating drug addiction. Lucy's gay brother Leo (Will McCormack) begins seeing an attractive movie action star named Jack Dawson (Grant Show), and is worried about the repercussions if it was made public. Also, Don continues seeing the dead and pregnant Kira, while Willa continues to try to seek out her own competitive story.

- "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (44:05) Lucy blackmails basketball star Prince Tyreese into helping her track down a missing rap star who may have been murdered. Meanwhile, Lucy and Leo's mother (Mariette Hartley) announces her plans to re-marry on the anniversary of their father's suicide, while Leo continues to keep his relationship with actor Jack Dawson a secret from Lucy. Willa has to do some footwork in order to get a story.

- "You Don't Know Jack" (47:28) Lucy finally publishes photos of action-movie star Jack Dawson in the arms of his gay lover. Elsewhere, menacing visitors threaten Brent Barrow (Jeffrey Nordling) to reveal Lucy's source about the murder of rapper. Also, Julia interrupts a photo shoot for Holt.

- "The Secret Lives of Altar Girls" (44:32) To assist Willa in investigating the murder of a teenage girl in a small California town, Lucy delegates her one-time mentor (Paul Reubens) to help. Meanwhile, Holt and Lucy's growing attraction towards each other arrives to a boil. Julia slumps into the arms of Garbo (Carly Pope) and deeper into drugs.

- "Come Together" (45:27) Willa's excitement over her first story fades when her source (Stephanie Turner) takes back her story about the cheerleader murder. Meanwhile, Lucy's relationship with her brother Leo, and her business, is put in jeopardy by Jack Dawson's lawsuit against the magazine after Dawson cries entrapment at the outing of his homosexuality. Don becomes involved with a coffee shop waitress (Tara Summers), while Holt finally discovers that he has digestive worms, and also realizes the seriousness of Julia's drug addiction. Also, Brent makes a move on Willa and plans her as his latest conquest.

- "The Thing Under the Bed" (45:31) Lucy has trouble sleeping and begins to look into her past thinking that there might be a connection to her father's suicide when she begins investigating her mother's belongings. Meanwhile, Willa teams up with Don to uncover a secret celebrity wedding. Julia deals with being in rehab while Holt deals with his busy acting career. Also, Lucy discovers that she has a stalker when an unseen person snaps photos of her and leaves them in the trunk of her car . . . the first of a vague threat.

- "This Is Not Your Father's Hostage Situation" (45:35) A former child actor (Vincent Gallo) takes the entire office of "Dirt Now" hostage in their own building for a set of vague demands, forcing a few of the staff, including Willa and Brent, to hide and Lucy and Don at the mercy of the gunman. In the midst of all this, Lucy wonders if the man is really a threat, or just a harmless has-been seeking media attention.

- "The Sexxx Issue" (46:31) Lucy proposes to do a sex-themed issue of "Dirt Now" as a means of getting the office staff to relax in the aftermath of the hostage situation. Meanwhile, Brent and Willa find themselves in a compromising position with a scheming teenage girl whose sleazy con-artist/manager father wishes to turn her into a movie star. Don tries to face his intimacy problems with Abby. Also, Holt tries to deal with the aftermath of Julia's difficult drug recovery and his growing obsession with Lucy. Lucy soon learns that her unseen stalker is stepping up the stalking.

- "Pap Smeared" (46:31) Don meets an ambitious, but naïve, fellow paparazzi named Marqui Jackson (Lukas Haas), who tags along to help him with his latest assignment in photographing a local starlet, and both of them end up at the mercy of a former street gang later:turned paparazzi:named Ozzy Romero (Rolando Molina), who employs his former gang members to make Don and Marqui turn away from the story. Meanwhile, Julia finds it difficult to find work after leaving rehab and becomes picky about her choices of TV appearances. Willa begins to give Brent the cold shoulder over their continuing office romance when she wants to stop and he will not take 'no' for an answer. Also, Lucy's unseen stalker escalates his harassment of her by sending out revealing images of her to everybody in the "Dirt Now" office.

- "Caught on Tape" (44:06) When the porno videotape of the drugged Julia and Johnny Gage (Johann Urb) surfaces on the Internet, a distraught Julia finds herself in the spotlight by the public seeing her in a positive light while a negative reaction is shown on Johnny. Lucy wants to know how the videotape got leaked out since Holt destroyed the only copy, so she sends Willa out to investigate. The leads she finds lead to an unexpected outcome. Meanwhile, Don is haunted by visions of Marquis who wants Don to ignore his latest photo assignment and concentrate on something else. Also, Leo returns after a six-week stay at a spiritual retreat with a silent girlfriend Lumina (Joeanna Sayler). From there, Lucy updates him on her latest situation.

- "Ita Missa Est" (46:39) In the season finale, Don's mental disorder worsens as he wanders into the desert, haunted by visions of Holt, Kira, and his own evil self urging him to kill Lucy. Back in Los Angeles, Lucy feels her job is in jeopardy when a rival tabloid magazine editor, Tina Harrod (Jennifer Aniston), arrives to apparently apply for her job. Meanwhile, Willa investigates the death of a fashion model during a high-profile runway show. Brent finally decides to move on and begins to focus his attention on another sexual conquest: Lucy. Elsewhere, Holt moves out of Julia's house while she finally learns about his romantic involvement with Lucy, leading the unbalanced Julia to take matters into her own hands. Also, Lucy's stalker is finally revealed.

Video

The series episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen format (1.78:1 ratio). There are no chapter selection menus, but each episode has chapter stops. The colors are very evident in the quality of the picture. The picture is free from pixels, dirt or grain. There are scenes at some parties and on video sources viewed that show off quite a bit of grain, but I think this is deliberate. Also, being that Buena Vista is the same company that puts out Disney titles on DVD. Would one expect any less from them?

Audio

Each episode is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack. There are optional English subtitles available for both the episodes and the Bonus Features on Disc 4 (the preview trailers are not subtitled). When soundtrack music plays, it seems to fill the whole room. But that's just the start of it. Each sound is heard with perfect clarity, especially when the camera is snapping pictures. In the newsroom, you can constantly hear the phones in the background and the people typing on their computers.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has released this series with 3 featurettes, a series of deleted scenes, a gag reel, a preview of the next season and a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.

DISC ONE:

This first disc only features a bonus trailer before the start of the main menu for:

- "ABC TV on DVD" which runs for 1 minute 42 seconds.

DISCS TWO & THREE:

These are no extras on these discs.

DISC FOUR:

'Celebrity Couple Gets Dirty' is a 5 minute 13 second featurette in which you find out how "Dirt" came to be. The cast and crew also talk about what it's like to work with Courteney Cox-Arquette, both as a co-actor and as their boss (she is a co-executive producer). You also get to see the other co-executive producer her real life husband David here. There are also clips from the show.

'Through A Lens, Darkly' is a 6 minute 35 second featurette about one of the bigger co-stars of this series, Ian Hart (who plays the paparazzi character Don Konkey). Here you find out how he got cast and what the members of the cast and crew think of him and his character. There are also clips from the series featuring him.

'Tabloid Wars' is a 6 minute 35 second featurette that talks about how people are fascinated by celebrity gossip and dirt. Clips from the season are used to emphasize this. A few of the cast and crew tell how they did research for characters and stories for the series. There are bits of info that tell how tabloid people get their information. I feel what this featurette is saying is that if you're a major celebrity now or attain this status later, just try and stay off the tabloid radar.

There is a 1 minute 35 second gag reel with various flubs. Too bad it isn't very long.

There are 11 deleted scenes with an optional introduction. You have the option to play them all or pick each one individually. Each scene is introduced by executive producer/writer/director Matthew Carnahan which runs for 27 seconds, the scenes included are:

- "Back-Fat, Asses and Bra Straps" runs for 1 minute 15 seconds, Lucy is talks to herself in her vault office.
- "Off His Meds" runs for 1 minute 35 seconds, another scene of Don hallucinating when off his meds.
- "I Like To Get Dirty" runs for 1 minute 56 seconds, an extended scene at a bar with Lucy and Brent. Brent tells her he wants the credit. She tells him she wants his salary.
- "Couch Trip" runs for 51 seconds, Don is lying on his couch with his cat when he sees a cat-man.
- "It's All Coming To An End" runs for 2 minutes 1 second, Don dances with his cat and it talks to him.
- "Who Calls The Shots" runs for 1 minute 16 seconds, argument over power between Lucy and Brent.
- "Visiting Dirt" runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds, an extended scene in which the very end was cut, which seems like Lucy had the upper hand on her boss.
- "Holt Loses His Lunch" runs for 1 minute 21 seconds, one scene too many with Holt's digestive worm problem.
- "Two Heads Are Better Than One" runs for 1 minute 30 seconds, extended scene with Don before he is let into the winery where he would find Aundre G.
- "Falling" runs for 1 minute 28 seconds, a deleted scene in which Lucy was under hypnosis.
- "Leo Comforts Lucy" runs for 2 minutes, from the Finale. Lucy is worried about Don. Worried that Lucy hasn't eaten, Don sends Lumina for some food.

There is a 1 minute 20 second preview for Season 2. You don't really see any actual footage from Season 2. It is just Carnahan talking about how the next season will play out. You also see multiple clips from Season 1. This feature is a waste of time.

Rounding out the extras are some bonus trailers for:

- "Becoming Jane" which runs for 2 minutes 27 seconds.
- "Golden Door" which runs for 1 minute 41 seconds.
- "Eagle Vs. Shark" which runs for 2 minutes 19 seconds.

Packaging

"Dirt: The Complete First Season" is a 4-DVD set with everything in a digipak.

Overall

The Show: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: B Overall: B+

 


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