Secret Life Of The American Teenager: Volume Three (The)
R1 - Unset - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Ethan C. Stevenson (17th February 2010).
The Show

Everyone’s least favorite show is back. Or everyone’s favorite worst show is back… how you wish to say it is up to you. Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley) and her annoying friends (Megan Park, Darren Kagasoff, Francia Raisa and Greg Finley), broken family (Molly Ringwald, Mark Derwin and India Eisley), idiot boyfriend Ben (Ken Baumann) and her stupid baby (who she’s named John) are all still up to their ridiculous games and stupid actions. Why should we care? We shouldn’t. What do they do? Seriously retarded things.

On a more serious note, Volume Three picks up where the last season left off (duh). Now with a newborn child, young Amy must face the harsh responsibilities that come with being stupid enough to not at least use some sort of birth control or contraceptive when you have sex. Speaking of stupid, Mrs. Juergens was dumb enough to have unprotected sex early in the season, with her new boyfriend, even though she has a horrible reminder of the consequences schlepping around her house all day sulking and complaining about how tired she is and how much she needs help. Unfortunately for the Juergens’ one of the women is probably pregnant again. Amy and her dead-eyed sister Ashley are getting along better, or so I think… I can’t tell because both Woodley and Eisley fail miserably at conveying emotion on any believable level. George, the patriarch, hates his whore of an ex-wife and slut older daughter so much that he decides to sell his house and take Ashley on a road trip, because, well, that’s what grown men do. THEY LEAVE YOU! (Emphasis not mine; that’s plainly the message the writers and producers want to convey. That’s the tone too.) On the friend front, goody-Christian Grace (Park) wants to lose her virginity to not so good Jack Pappas, a 17-year-old high school football player being played by the 26-year-old Greg Finley, because, yeah, that combination makes sense. Adrian (Raisa) is still slutting it up with everyone and anything that she can flash her goods at. Only, now, in the 3rd Volume, she’s starting to think that being a classless tart may not be a totally wise choice. For reference, last season, Adrian had no problem sleeping with her “brother” – no blood relation; he was a step – and thought it was kind of hot in a weird way, so, yeah, this sudden crisis of conscious makes perfect sense. Wait… no it doesn’t... And the Amy, Ben and Ricky love triangle gets even more complicated when Amy wants bad-boy, total flake Ricky in the baby’s life because she thinks it’s important for the father to be in the picture. Only, she doesn’t want Ben, her boyfriend and the one actually willing to be there for her and her evil little demon spawn, to be around the baby a whole lot, because, again, that’s what makes sense on "The Secret Life…"

On the technical side of things the show is just as bad as it was last time. Creator and show runner Brenda Hampton still can’t write worth a crap and confusingly creates this high school world of sex-obsessed, but supposedly wholesome Christians who talk like they’re reading from a script written by a person with an 8th grade understanding of life. The dialogue is still shitty and unrealistic. The direction is basic and uninteresting. The production design looks plastic and half-assed (there’s no real effort put into making sets look less like a set and more like real life). The acting is freaking atrocious and makes me want to puke. All old hat for "The Secret Life…" so I’m not really surprised because little has changed since last season. The show has always been, and will always be, poorly made. It’s just a shame that whatever high I was under a few months ago didn’t take over again, because as much as I bashed Hampton’s creation last year I admit that at one time I was actually strangely captivated by it’s awfulness and sickly wanted to see more. Not so with Volume Three. This is truly dreadful television.

‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Three’ spreads the first 12 episodes (each approximately 43 minutes) from the second season over three discs. Included here are:

- “The Big One”
- “What’s Done Is Done”
- “Par for the Course”
- “Ciao”
- “Born Free”
- “The Summer of Our Discontent”
- “Summertime”
- “A New Kind of Green”
- “Hot Nuts”
- “Knocked Up. Who’s There?”
- “Cramped”
- “Be My, Be My Baby”

Video

The turd polishing continues. A crappier season earns an even better looking DVD than the last. For standard definition this looks great. "The Secret Life..." arrives with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image that is sharp, with decent to good detail (for SD), strong, bold and bright colors, a great black level, natural contrast, and because the show is shot on high definition video, there’s no grain to speak of (and only a little noise in the darkest of scenes). The show still has bland, boring direction and little variance in sets and the like so it’s good-looking monotony, but whatever.

Audio

My comments concerning the audio from my review of the last season hold over for Volume Three. So much so that I’ll just copy and paste:

"The Secret Life…." arrives with a 348 kbps English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track but you wouldn’t be able to tell by listening to it. For all-intents-and-purposes this may as well have been a stereo mix; I heard nothing of notable significance from the rear speakers during any one of the episodes in [volume three] and given the low-rent nature of the sound design and the fact that the show is more dialogue focused anyway, I can’t say that it surprises me in the least. The one and only audio track on this series is acceptable with nothing outright wrong; just, it’s not anything beyond average either.

"The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Three" includes subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

So, in my previous review of this series I said that the extras package in that particular set was a sorry effort. What those DVD's provided was lazy and good-for-nothing fodder. They didn’t provide any audio commentaries or deleted scenes, nor even a making of that was worth the name. What fans got instead was basically promotional crap for the show and for ABC Family. That’s true here as well, only more shameless. In fact one of the two main supplements – a bonus pilot episode for another ABC Family series – doesn’t even have anything to do with "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" at all, for shame ABC Family, for shame. Further details are discussed below:

DISC ONE:

Start-up bonus trailers for:

- "When in Rome" runs 2 minutes 33 seconds, in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
- "Kyle XY: The Final Season" on DVD runs 55 seconds, in 4x3.
- "10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition" on Blu-ray and DVD runs 57 seconds, in anamorphic 16x9.
- "Make it or Break It: Season One" on DVD runs 58 seconds, in window-boxed 16x9.

DISC TWO:

"Make it or Break It" bonus pilot episode’ (16x9, 44 minutes 5 seconds). That’s right. The longest, most worthwhile extra in this set is a pilot, for another show, and has absolutely nothing to do with "The Secret Life…" This pilot didn’t impress me. The show looks flashy, with lots of high-frame rate scenes and stylized camera work. The main storyline, about girls in a gymnastic competition, is pretty mediocre and, frankly boring. It’s not as inept at being a professional TV production as Hampton’s crapfest, but neither is it the second coming of Christ. In fact "Make it or Break It" was barely memorable at all. It looks nice though with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and sounds better than "The Secret Life…" with a fairly engaging English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

DISC THREE:

"Hat Chat" (16x9, 6 minutes 19 seconds) featurette has the cast and crew pulling viewer-submitted questions from a hat and answering them. Don’t go looking for insight or even mildly interesting comments. About as deep as this thing goes is “What’s Ken (the guy who plays Ben on the show) like in real life?” and “What’s Ken’s favorite cut of meat?” (Seriously). Worse yet, we get clips from the show in this crap too. This is a lame extra all around.

Packaging

Unlike the previous two seasons, which appeared as “Season One” and “Season Two” (mind bogglingly) respectively, even though only season one was correct (So-called “Season Two” was actually the second half of season one, and should have been called season 1.5). This 3rd release is actually the first part of the shows real second season, but it (quite rightfully) drops this “season” nonsense as it no longer makes a lick of sense, and slaps a “volume” moniker on the end of the DVD title instead. So, what we have here is "The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Three" and it is packaged in a 3-disc amaray case with a cardboard slipcover. The interior of the keep case offers a breakdown of each DVD and its corresponding content.

Overall

Last year I said in my review of Season Two, or volume two… or whatever they we’re calling it back then, that, “‘The Secret Life’ can be fun – fun in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way” and sadly that doesn’t hold much water these days. Unfortunately (especially for me, as I had to sit through another season) the euphoric ether-huffing-like daze that I was in last year while I watched the pure stupidity of these characters as they bumbled around and totally failed at life didn’t have the same effect on me this time around. The show just isn’t fun anymore. The ineptness of last year made for some good games and unintentional hilarity, but as of right now I’m just not having it anymore. The show is total garbage and stinks like it too this season. The visual presentation is about par for the course with this series – meaning spotless transfers mated with uninteresting visuals – and audio is faithful to the source but bland. Volume Three has even less extras (both in quantity and quality) than the previous DVD release – if that’s even possible – and thus my advice is to skip it.

The Show: F Video: B Audio: C Extras: F Overall: F

 


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