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Featured TV on DVD Review: Ugly Betty: The Complete Fourth and Final Season

August 15th, 2010

Ugly Betty: The Complete Fourth and Final Season - Buy from Amazon

I've reviewed every season of Ugly Betty starting with season one, which I found had an infectious charm. It was equal parts soap opera and parody of a soap opera. Season two was not quite as good, but is was also the season of the big writers' strike, so I was willing to use that as an excuse. However, by season three, it was clear the show had become a full-fledged soap opera, instead of a parody of an over-the-top soap opera. The charm and the humor were almost all gone. I was ready to give up on the show, and I wasn't alone, as it had lost 30% of its audience. Season four was the show's last chance, and while it wasn't able to recover in the ratings (the move to Fridays didn't help) was it able to recover its earlier charm?

The Show

First, let's start with a brief recap of season three, which I previously reviewed. There was a big shakeup at Meade publishing with changes at the top, including a new CFO, who was in fact an embezzler that nearly brought down the magazine. They were able to pick up the pieces and rebuild, with Betty getting a promotion over Marc. Betty also has yet another boyfriend, Matt Hartley, the son of billionaire Calvin Harley, who rescued Meade. However, Henry returned and still has feelings for Betty, but Betty says she doesn't and they kiss goodbye. Matt sees the kiss and they break up. Daniel meanwhile, falls in love with Molly, who used to be Conner's fiancee, and they get married. But she has terminal cancer and dies at the end of the season.

So, season four starts with Betty on her first day of the new job. Marc, Matt, and pretty much everyone else is trying to take her down. It's a lot like the first day of the first episode. This is important, as this is the final season and the show really needs to be able to wrap up the incredible number of plot threads that have run throughout the past four years. Some of these have a familiar feel to them, like Wilhelmina trying to taking over Meade Publishing, again. Why do these keep letting her back in the building? Do they not remember Medusa? Before that, they could write off her crazy scheme as just a craving for power but pretend she only did it because she wanted what was best for Meade publishing, i.e. her in control. However, she literally tried to destroy Meade Publishing when she thought she was losing control. She cares more about power than she does about the well-being of the company. Why don't they understand this?

Other plot threads that feel familiar include Betty getting another boyfriend, or two, or more. More Meade family drama, including yet another lost love / sibling, more Wilhelmina family drama, etc. Some of these, like Nico turning on her mother felt like deja vu. I'm sure they've used that plot twist before. Others, like Justin's coming of age were more endearing.

The ending, which I'm not going to discuss in any real detail to avoid spoilers, was effective, but felt a little rushed. It was Like the creators thought they would have one more year, probably because the cancellation did come a bit late in the season. The rash of guest appearances made by characters that were regulars in previous seasons: Christina, Gio, Henry, etc. It's not fully satisfying, but it is engaging enough. They left enough openings that the show doesn't feel like it is truly over, and a TV movie would not seem out of place.

The Extras

Extras start with deleted scenes that are spread throughout the four-disc set. The final disc also has an eight-and-a-half minute featurette on the show's Bahama episode, which is more following the cast around on their off time. There are six-and-a-half minutes of outtakes. Finally, there is an audio commentary track on All the World's a Stage with Michael Urie and Mark Indelicato, who play Marc and Justin.

For the final season, this is not a lot of extras.

The Verdict

Ugly Betty started off on a very, very high note. I didn't have high expectations, but I was quickly won over after watching Season One. It stumbled a bit during Season Two, while Season Three sank. Fortunately, Season Four saw a strong surge in quality; it is not as strong as season one, while some of the storylines did begin to repeat themselves, but it is still worth checking out. And if you bought the previous seasons, it is worth completing your collection.

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