Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (25th October 2008).
The Show

Walking into the second season of a television show that one has never seen before can be a little bit tough. A quick recap (prior to the first episode on this disc) of the first season of "Ugly Betty" is only partly effective in bringing a new viewer up to speed. The gist of it is that Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) is a nerdy Hispanic intern at Mode, a fashion magazine. She has had her heart broken. Her boyfriend has knocked up any other girl and has decided to be with that girl. Adding to Betty's troubles are the fact that her dad is in Mexico without a visa to return to the United States, and her nephew is reluctant to return to summer camp. Meanwhile, aging supermodel Tyra Banks plays a woman who is trying to wrest control of the magazine away from certain rivals. Alexis, a character played by Rebecca Romijn, was in a car accident with her brother Daniel (Eric Mabius); she is in a coma, he is awake but is in a wheel chair. He is the editor of the magazine; his mother recently escaped from prison. But wait there's more: a receptionist at the magazine is gaining weight and has also found out that she is adopted; her natural mother works at the magazine. She and a very gay co-worker try to find her natural father, who they also believe is a magazine employee. Finally, a Hispanic couple are holed up in a bedroom planning their marriage, which will happen as soon as the man recovers from a gunshot wound.

The end of the first episode brings a twist to this last plot thread that is actually a little bit surprising, and a bit moving. The fact that there is a bit of real emotional content here comes as a surprise, because the show is otherwise completely facetious, driving the melodrama up to eleven on a ten scale and unashamedly indulging in snarky self-aware parody of everything from Hispanic soap operas (think: anything on Telemundo) to gay stereotypes, to a wide variety of real-world celebrities. The sharp if sarcastic writing style and purposely campy performances fit the brightly colored production design and are complimented by the hilarious Latin jazz-influenced musical score.

The fast-paced episodes move the story along quickly, and the flamboyant and fulgent cast appear to be having a lot of fun in their roles. With the exception of the occasional dramatic reveal (such as the twist at the end of the first episode), things are kept fairly light and breezy, as the playfully ridiculous burlesque unfolds. The satirical tone does make it hard to truly care about the characters; the show seems to want us to, but seldom lets the tone of spoofery subside long enough to let us see them as anything other than caricatures.

Discs one through four each contain four episodes that time out at roughly forty-three minutes each. Disc five contains the seventeenth and eighteenth episodes, the episodes included are:

- "How Betty Got Her Grieve Back" (42:09)
- "Family/Affair" (43:00)
- "Betty's Wait Problem" (42:57)
- "Grin and Bear It" (42:52)
- "A League of Their Own" (43:00)
- "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (42:54)
- "A Nice Day for a Posh Wedding" (42:29)
- "I See Me, I.C.U." (40:33)
- "Giving Up the Ghost" (42:59)
- "Bananas for Betty" (42:27)
- "Zero Worship" (42:27)
- "Odor in the Court" (42:59)
- "A Thousand Words by Friday" (41:44)
- "Twenty-Four Candles" (42:58)
- "Burning Question" (42:54)
- "Betty’s Baby Bump" (42:55)
- "The Kids Are Alright" (42:48)
- "Jump" (41:59)

Video

The aspect ratio is the original modern broadcast ratio of 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. There is some nice production design on this series, which is often shown off via amazing tracking shots on unexpectedly vast sets. Solid colors - and lots of them - are they key elements here, and as presented on this DVD set, they look very nice.

Audio

The series is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, with English, Spanish, and French subtitles. Jeff Beal provides a competent and comical score that recalls Latin jazz meets early Danny Elfman by way of Bob Thompson. The mixe engineers on this one seem to like the score, because it if often prominent in the mix, and sometimes threatens to mask the dialogue. This is a minor concern however, and the audio is otherwise fine, perfectly up to modern broadcast television standards.

Extras

Buena Vista has released this series with a collection of four featurettes, two television clips, a blooper reel, a series of deleted scenes and bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements, all of which are on the fifth disc.

"On Set with the Besties" is a featurette which runs for 6 minutes 42 seconds; two of the cast members give us a tour of the Mode offices (while in character).

"The Suarez Tour" featurette runs for 3 minutes 37 seconds; and is a tour of the Suarez family home set.

"Wilhelmina Slater Love to Hate Her" featurette runs for 6 minutes 57 seconds; Vanessa Williams and other cast members discuss her character.

"Las Pasiones de Telenovelas" Television clips are included, there are two of which run 21 minutes 25 seconds and 16 minutes 10 seconds respectively; the two clips are from ersatz Mexican soap operas, as seen on the television in the background of the Suarez home. Audio is available in English or Spanish.

"I (heart) Betty" featurette runs for 6 minutes 9 seconds; America Ferrera and other cast and crew members are interviewed about Betty's love life.

"Betty Bloops" is a blooper reel that runs for 4 minutes 47 seconds; these bloopers are taken from the filming of the show.

Deleted scenes are included:

- "Flaws" runs for 1 minute 43 seconds; father and son talk about vanished mother.
- "Fish Sticks" runs for 49 seconds; Betty and her brother share a moment.
- "Cheer Up" runs for 1 minute 26 seconds; a ball dress arrives at the Mode offices.
- "Marc's Jig" runs for 18 seconds; Marc is slapped for dancing.
- "Alexis' Brother" runs for 1 minute 13 seconds; Dan talks about his sister's sex change.
- "Gio Fantasy" runs for 45 seconds; Gio talks about holding a woman.
- "Amanda's Prize" runs for 24 seconds; Dan and Amanda plot.
- "Not So Secret Sex Room" runs for 1 minute 10 seconds; everyone is in the sex room.
- "Burger Building" runs for 34 seconds; dad practices making burgers for his job.
- "Burgers With Benefits" runs for 55 seconds; dad gets the burger job.
- "Birthday Breakfast" runs for 38 seconds; Betty's father makes breakfast.
- "Loose Lips" runs for 19 seconds; Willie punches her assistant.
- "Happily Ever After" runs for 18 seconds; Betty and Gio take a carriage ride.
- "Daddy's Little Girl" (Uncut) runs for 29 seconds; The Gene Simmons cameo trailer is presented uninterrupted.
- "Good Citizen" runs for 43 seconds; Betty looks at her good citizen award at her old school.
- "No Second Thoughts" runs for 50 seconds; Betty and Gio talk about Dan's kid.

Rounding out the extras are bonus trailers for:

- "Desperate Housewives: The Fourth Season" spot which runs for 37 seconds.
- "Brothers and Sisters: The Second Season" which runs for 1 minute 17 seconds.
- "Miramax Films" spot which runs for 2 minutes 36 seconds.
- "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" which runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds.
- "Wall-E" which runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds.
- "Ugly Betty on ABC" spot which runs for 33 seconds.
- "Samantha Who" spot which runs for 31 seconds.

Packaging

This five disc set is packaged in a fold out digi-pack housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

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

 


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