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Paramount Home Video presents
Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season (2004)

"So for now, I'm hanging out with my best friend Lo, and doing what girls do when things aren't going their way...shop."
- Lauren "LC" Conrad

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 02, 2006

Stars: Lauren Conrad, Stephen Coletti, Kristin Cavalleri, Lauren Bosworth, Morgan Olson, Christina Schuller, Trey Phillips, Talan Torriero
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 04h:32m:00s
Release Date: July 19, 2005
UPC: 097368886049
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B BB+B- B+

DVD Review

Unfortunately, it's taken my recent watching of the E! channel's series, Kill Reality (a show about the filming of a movie with nothing but reality show stars) to realize just how pathetic these "reality actors" are. Sure, the shows are bad, in regards to both concept and execution, but it's these people who have been given more than their allotted 15 minutes of fame and become divas that seem pathetic. The overwhelmingly sad part of most reality shows is that it's nearly impossible to change the channel when one of them is on. MTV's Laguna Beach is the exception, as, after watching the first episode of the first season when it premiered on the network, I gave up, never to watch another installment.

Now that the first season is available on DVD, I decided to give it another chance. While it wasn't as awful as I remembered, it's not one audiences can get easily hooked on, an easy proposition when it comes to other reality fare like Survivor and Big Brother. Those shows are fueled by their casts, as these people at least come across as being normal, that is, until they are finished with the show, become reality show veterans, and do slop like Kill Reality. The people in Laguna Beach are the type that you would see in any given installment of The OC, and this show is actually riding the wave of success of that popular Fox show, by taking place in Orange County as well. Many of these "real" characters even come across as near carbon copies of the fictional residents of that show.

This has a much tighter target demographic than other ventures in reality TV, and is likely to appeal mostly to teenagers and those in their early twenties. Some parents might want to check the show out before letting younger kids watch it, as this is adult-oriented subject matter, but since it's on MTV, it does still have to follow FCC regulations and keep the more raunchy material to our imaginations.

Our loveable group of beach bums and babes consists of Stephen, Kristin, LC, Lo, Trey, Christina, Morgan, and Talan. Yeah, some of their names are ridiculous, but I have a feeling that if you visited Orange County today, you'd be hard pressed to find kids with names like Mike and Jane. Through the course of these 11 episodes, we get everything one would expect from reality television, from the back-stabbing pseudo-friendships to the torrid love triangles. However, every one of these people are rich and beautiful, so we not only get twice the fighting and on-again off-again romances, we get twice the egos and more envy than we can handle.

These crazy kids actually go through quite a bit in their early adventures, including a trip to Catalina, and one to Cabo as well. We also see them at their prom and graduation ceremonies, which made my Prom and Graduation look pathetic in comparison. The primary love triangle gets much attention as well, as Stephen, Kristin, and LC are constantly vying for each other's affections. Arguably, the most annoying cast member has to be Richie, who seems to be trying to act like a fool only to attract attention to himself, and those of you who he rubs the wrong way have to deal with quite a few of his antics. Still, there's always a character in reality TV that we love to hate, and for me, Richie was that person.

Laguna Beach looks and feels more real thanks to the reality show style camera work and constant use of beach locations where the show was shot. So, I guess the bottom line is that if you're into watching the day-to-day activities of seven of the most beautiful people in Orange County, let alone the United States, check out this DVD.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: These episodes are presented in nonanamorphic, 1.66:1 widescreen, which is how they were broadcast on MTV. The show was shot using hand-held video cameras, and everything looks about as good as can be expected, with sharp, detailed images, that only suffer from softness momentarily. There is some pixelation, but it never becomes too distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Also similar to their TV broadcast, the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. There are quite a few of today's pop music hits permeating the soundtrack, and these songs come across clean through all of the surround speakers. The dialogue stays up front, though, and is equally crisp and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Newlyweds Nick & Jessica: The Complete Seasons 2 & 3, Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection, Pilates Mix, Viva La Bam: The Complete Second & Third Seasons, Charmed: The Complete First Season
1 TV Spots/Teasers
11 Deleted Scenes
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Cast Interviews - Talks with each of the major cast members.
  2. Casting Tapes - Footage shot before the show began production.
  3. The Laguna Triangle - Video montage from Laguna Beach.
  4. Laguna Looks - Montage showing facial reactions from the cast.
  5. Music Videos - Seven videos from various artists.
Extras Review: An entire disc is devoted to extra features, and die-hard fans of the show are sure to enjoy most of them. There's bonus footage consisting of 11 deleted scenes, eight cast interviews, as well as a collection of footage from pre-show casting tapes. There's also a pair of pieces in this section called The Laguna Triangle and Laguna Looks, both basically montages, with the former featuring random clips from the show and the second featuring a collection of odd looks from many of the characters.

Three featurettes are next, including LC's House Tour, a nine-minute look at an amazing house that LC's father designed himself. A seven-minute piece called Lo's Guide to Laguna Beach takes us on another tour, this time of Lo's favorite places to go in her hometown, and Behind the Season One Finale with Kristin & Trey is a six-minute talk with this pair.

Seven music videos featuring songs by Jag Star, Justin Farren, Kaila, Vaughan Penn, The Pills, Aruna, and Junk total just over 25 minutes.

Aside from a collection of Paramount Home Video previews, the rest of the extras are DVD-ROM based.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Taking a cue from The OC, Laguna Beach shows us what young adult life is really like in Orange County. This group of beautiful, rich young people take us on a first-hand journey through their lives in a way that is engaging, but had me feeling guilty that I was actually enjoying this cheesy material. Paramount Home Video presents Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season in grand fashion, using two discs to house the 11 episodes of the show and a third disc dedicated to a bevy of extras.


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