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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Cleaner: The Final Season

May 31st, 2010

The Cleaner: The Final Season - Buy from Amazon

The Cleaner stars Benjamin Bratt as a recovering addict that has focused in life to helping others overcome their addictions, to the detriment of every other aspect of his life. Essentially he's traded in a chemical addiction for another addiction. I reviewed the first season and thought it was amazing, but, a lot of shows suffer from a sophomore slump. And since this show was cancelled after the second season, the likelihood of that being the case does seem more likely. Or perhaps it's a case of a great show failing to find an audience.

Season two starts out where season one ended, with William Banks separating from his wife (Amy Price-Francis). That lasts all of 30 seconds till she asks him to come home be "Stunt Husband" for a week while her parents are there. This is further complicated, as he's working on helping a friend that has fallen off the wagon, and hard. This is a really good introduction to the second season, as it hits all the right notes for the show. It includes a very hard case, it shows how addiction can hurt the addicts loved ones, and it shows how William's obsession is killing his marriage. It also has a number of major guest stars (Gary Cole, Jayne Brook, Whoopi Goldberg) which is another hallmark of this season. It's not the best episode from the second season, but it is a great introduction to the show for those who missed the first season.

There are a lot of great episodes. Last American Casualty deals with a returning soldiers. Does Everybody Have a Drink? has William trying to help a singer remain sober enough to go out on tour, while her manager asks for help getting his parents sober in time for his wedding. In The Things We Didn't Plan both Akani and Swenton perform unplanned grabs and when William has to help a cop get clean for a drug test, it causes quite a crowd. Cinderella is one of the few episodes that has his daughter, Lula, in a featured roll. Here William accompanies her to a ballet audition, but sees the signs that Lula's idol dancer is an addict and he's torn between helping her and protecting his daughter from seeing that world that clearly.

There are plenty of other strong episodes: Path of Least Resistance, An Ordinary Man, etc. Most of the season hits the mark. In the end, I think it was cancelled because it just didn't fit in with the rest of A&E's programming, which is mostly Reality TV.

Also impressive are the extras. There are audio commentary tracks on the first and last episode of the season, as well as deleted scenes on almost all 13 episodes and promos for a few of them. The rest of the extras can be found on disc four, starting with a 3-minute series promo. It's nice to have in terms of completion, but it doesn't have a lot of depth here. Coming Clean is a 20-minute featurette on the creation of the show and it's worth checking out. There is a 15-minute look at the real Warren Boyd, who is the basis for William Banks. Finally, there is a 5-minute gag reel, which is not the kind of extra you would expect for a show like this, but it's a nice relief.

The Verdict

Some shows work really well on DVD. Shows like Lost where you need to see every episode in chronological order if you want to have a chance of understanding what's going on. The Cleaner is not exactly that type of show. In fact, watching it in a marathon session as I did is a bit draining. The Final Season is worth buying, but when you do, make sure you take breaks.

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