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Showtime presents
Fat Actress: The Complete First Season (2005)

"The pounds are just melting off."
- Kirstie Alley

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: May 23, 2005

Stars: Kirstie Alley
Other Stars: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kid Rock, Carmen Electra, Melissa Gilbert, Merv Griffin
Director: Keith Truesdell

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language)
Run Time: 03h:50m:00s
Release Date: May 24, 2005
UPC: 758445210026
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- DB-C+ B-

DVD Review

After practically dropping off of the face of the earth, Kirstie Alley is back, and in a "big" way. Not one to show up on Oprah or Dr. Phil to emote about her weight problem, Alley has brought her new look to her own new series on Showtime, Fat Actress. Since her days on Cheers and Veronica's Closet, this once venerable performer has gained quite a bit of weight and isn't the least bit ashamed of it, which is really a breath of fresh air, and a nice break from all of the skinny-as-a-skeleton women working in Hollywood today.

This new production is basically a semi-autobiographical, mostly unscripted look at Kirstie Alley's struggle with her weight, and the lack of work that is mostly a direct result of her plus-size status. It's great that Alley isn't ashamed (which she shouldn't be) of her new look, but her constant whining and general overacting gets old about ten minutes into the first episode. This whining only gets worse throughout the course of the series, and almost single-handedly drives it into the ground.

Dozens of guest stars appear during the course of this seven-episode inaugural season, most of whom are Alley's close personal friends. From her Look Who's Talking co-star, John Travolta, to the likes of musician Kid Rock, an eclectic mix of superstars show up, seemingly at random. The only series regulars are played by Bryan Callen and Rachael Harris, who do a nice job balancing out Alley's incredible overacting, but they aren't enough to save the series as a whole.

Hardly any of the seven installments of Fat Actress are worth a look, but a few, (Holy Lesbo, Batman is the best) are at least slightly entertaining. A neat idea on paper, Fat Actress just didn't turn out to be the career renaissance that Kirstie Alley had hoped for.

Fat Actress: The Complete First Season features the following seven episodes:

Big Butts: Kirstie's agent wants her to do spots for Jenny Craig, completely shattering her self-esteem. So, it's buddy John Travolta to the rescue, setting her mind at ease and prompting her to force her agent to set up a meeting with Jeff Zucker.

Charlie's Angels: After meeting with the director of Charlie's Angels, Kirstie sees the love of her life, the one and only Kid Rock. An overdose of laxatives comes back to haunt her during this glorious moment in her life.

Holy Lesbo, Batman: A plan to meet Gwen Stefani lands Kirstie in jail with an ex-boyfriend who turns out to be gay.

The Koi Effect: A new diet method has been introduced to Kirstie that has her surrounding herself with small things in order to lose weight.

Crack for Good: Kirstie's brother is a crack addict who suggests that she try his habit in order to lose weight.

Crybaby McGuire: Kirstie has initial positive vibes about a friend of Merv Griffin, but it turns out that he has far more emotional problems than she's willing to deal with.

Hold This: When Kirstie's bank account is running very low, she devises a plan to get another huge deal from the network.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Each of the episodes are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, looking almost identical to the way they did on television. The beauty of sunny Hollywood is always on display, with bright, vivid colors being a constant. Images are sharp and very detailed at all times, with solid contrast and shadow levels as well. There is a bit of grain, but no scratches in the print or other flaws to bog down the presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes on these two discs, and there isn't much of a difference between the two. The 5.1 does get the slight nod thanks to wider dynamic range and tighter, more aggressive bass, but the surrounds are just as active in the 2.0 mix. Dialogue is crisp and easily decipherable in both.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Reefer Madness, The L Word, Queer as Folk, Our Fathers
18 Deleted Scenes
3 Featurette(s)
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by Kirstie Alley, Rachael Harris, Bryan Callen, Brenda Hampton, Sandy Chanley
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. DISH Network - Advertisement for the satellite TV service.
Extras Review: A decent collection of extras includes audio commentary tracks for the first four episodes. These feature the participation of actors Kirstie Alley, Rachael Harris, and Bryan Callen, as well as executive producers Brenda Hampton and Sandy Chanley. All of these tracks are actually more entertaining than the episodes themselves, with Alley being less whiny and annoying, and Hampton and Chanley providing some nice insight as to how the show came to be.

Three featurettes are on Disc 2, including a look On the Set of the show, with Alley discussing her series in great detail. There's also footage of the show's Premiere Party, and a Showtime Shorts segment, with Alley answering a barrage of personal questions.

There are also 18 Deleted Scenes, a shameless promotion for the DISH Network, cast and crew Biographies, and Previews of other Showtime series.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

While a neat idea on paper, the psuedo-reality series that is Fat Actress turned out to be a huge misfire. Showtime has done a serviceable job with their DVD release of the show's first season, but a few nice extras and solid technical aspects can't save this shell of a show.

 


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