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Featured DVD Review - 10 Things I Hate About You - The Series - Volume One

January 2nd, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You - The Series - Volume One - Buy from Amazon

It's been ten years since 10 Things I Hate About You was released in theaters, and now they've adapted the movie into a TV show. So this show is an adaptation of a movie that was an adaptation of a Shakespeare play. Since the movie was a modern retelling of the play and a rather loose adaptation, this series has more in common with movie than the play. But while I liked the movie, going in I was not sold on this TV show's prospects. Can it really sustain the set-up over a full season?

For those of you that haven't seen the movie, the series follows the high school life of the Stratford sisters, the elder Kat (played by Lindsey Shaw) and the younger Bianca (played by Meaghan Jette Martin). Kat wants to stand out and stand up for what she believes, which include feminism, the environment, etc. Bianca, meanwhile, just wants to fit in and be popular. On their first day of school, they are introduced to the various members of their new school. This includes Chastity Church, the head cheerleader, whom Bianca desperately wants to be friends with. However, Kat and Chastity have a run-in earlier, literally, and that causes friction between Bianca and Chastity. Meanwhile, Kat meets a couple of less influential members of Padua High. Mandella (Jolene Purdy) is an outcast who spends much of her life spray-painting very artistic graffiti on school property. She also meets Patrick Verona (Ethan Peck) the bad boy of Padua High; however, she quickly sees through the persona and stares him down. Thrown into the mix is Cameron James (Nicholas Braun) who, like in the movie, falls instantly in love with Bianca, but he's not in her social circle. Meanwhile, Bianca might start having feelings for Joey (Chris Zylka) who is Chastity's current boyfriend.

With the number of characters and their overlapping relationships, there is a certain potential for entering soap opera territory, but the show never really comes close. Yes, some episodes deal with the love triangle that is the focus of the movie, and the "will they, won't they" relationship between Kat and Patrick, but it never enters soap opera territory thanks to a good balance in the writing. (Not to mention better than expected acting, but more on that later.) Many episodes during the first season also deal with Kat and Bianca's family life, which is great news for me, as I love the fact that Larry Miller reprises his role as Walter Stratford in this TV series. Larry Miller and the director, Gil Junger, appear to be the only people from the movie to make the transition to the TV series.

I was pleasantly surprised with the acting overall, especially since for most of the cast are relative newcomers and this was only the first or second thing I've seen them in. Lindsey Shaw was in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Meaghan Jette Martin was in Camp Rock, Nicholas Braun was in Minutemen and Princess Protection Program, etc. Seeing a pattern here? A lot of Disney channel productions. Lindsey Shaw is great in the role, which I would say she is playing a little tougher than in the movie, but less emotionally cut off. Ethan Peck is perhaps not as charismatic as Heath Ledger was in his performance; however, let's be realistic here, few people could be. Also, Ethan Peck's portrayal of Patrick is more accessible to the other characters. He's a tough outsider, but not the kind of person other students would think set a police officer on fire, for instance.

The first season is only ten episodes long, but the two-disc set has better than expected extras. There's an audio commentary track on the pilot with Lindsey Shaw, Larry Miller, Gil Junger, and Carter Covington. (Carter Covington is the writer of the episode.) I like having participants from both sides of the camera in these audio commentary tracks, as it helps add a different perspective to the show and with four people there's little in the way of dead air, although they do get caught up watching certain scenes, while everyone gets their turn to talk without too much over talk. Over on disc two there is another audio commentary track, this time for Light My Fire, this time with actors Dana Davis, Nicholas Braun, and Ethan Peck, as well as executive producer Robin Schiff. This is an excellent episode and I'm glad they had an audio commentary track for it. Also, like the previous audio commentary track, there's good energy, good information, and not a lot of dead spots. Other extras on the DVD included 10 Things I Hate vs. 10 Things I Love, a 12-minute featurette with the cast and crew talking about what they hate and what they love. This includes their characters, the cast, high school, etc. There is a shorter, 4-minute Backstage Pass, which is a behind-the-scenes featurette. Finally, there are two-and-a-half minutes of bloopers, which has a lot cast members blowing their lines.

The Verdict

I only recently watched 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time and I wasn't expecting much when it came to this show. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the series, especially its charming cast and I can recommend watching it. In fact, I would consider it arguably the best show currently on ABC Family. (This and Greek would be in a close battle for top spot, while The Middleman is still the best show ABC Family has put out.) The two-disc release for Volume One has enough extras that add replay value to make it a solid buy.

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