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Until recently, summer TV used to be a virtual wasteland with nothing more than reruns or poorly-conceived replacement shows. But once networks figured out that there was still an audience for the warmer months, higher quality shows arrived. One of the bigger TV hits from last summer, Kyle XY, has arrived on DVD.

Good Morning

Look, Ma! No belly button!
Look, Ma! No belly button!

The title character, played by Matt Dallas, is a teen-aged boy who wakes up naked one morning in the woods outside Seattle with no memory. He stumbles into town and gets arrested for public nudity and winds up in a juvenile detention center.

It does not take long for his odd behavior to earn him some enemies in jail, so a social worker named Nicole Trager (Marguerite MacIntyre) takes him into her home despite the reluctance of her husband Stephen (Bruce Thomas) and her two teenage children Lori and Josh (April Matson and Jean-Luc Bilodeau).

Kyle turns out to have extraordinary abilities. He learns to speak by mimicking, he has built-in reflexes that rival a superhero’s, he sleeps in a bathtub, and his brain activity is off the charts.

And he has no belly button.

Who Is Kyle XY?

Kyle XY has its obvious influences, from Beverly Hills 90210 to The X-Files, and more recently Smallville, but it also has the unique point of view of someone who acts like he was literally born yesterday. Each episode has a voiceover by Kyle explaining his understanding (or lack thereof) of how humans interact, such as when people lie to protect other people’s feelings.

It also has its share of teen issues that may seem like nothing new — right down to the cute but unavailable girl next door named Amanda (Kirsten Prout) — but Kyle’s rites of passage are played brilliantly by Dallas, who can show so much expression in a blank face. Kyle’s discovery of his sexuality contains the best moments of the ten episodes and earns its TV-14 rating.

Kyle’s character development is one of the best on TV recently, and his interaction with his new foster family is such that at the end of each show you want to invite Kyle into your home as well.

The mystery of the series comes into play with a strange man shadowing Kyle and the appearance of a corporate logo found in a composite of Kyle’s photo-like drawings. (He “draws” by tapping a crayon like dots on an ink jet print).

Kyle XY avoids the X Files trap by giving away just enough information to keep you tuned to the next episode, while still keeping it believable. Of course, you are asked to suspend your disbelief. But Kyle XY also gives itself more to work with than Smallville, where you know the eventual destiny of a young Clark Kent, no matter how hard that show’s creators dance around it. Kyle XY is wide open, right up to its satisfying season finale.

DVD Extras

The special features offer a different version of the pilot, along with an extended season finale, which does fill in a few small blanks.

Picture and Sound

The Picture and Sound will not disappoint no matter how tired you are of watching Seattle-based shows or over-dramatic music.

How to Use this DVD

Season Two of Kyle XY begins in three weeks, so that’s plenty of time to catch up. Catch the alternate versions and audio commentaries with all the giggling at your leisure. You might want to skip the Kyle Declassified feature. It is basically a short review of season one with some sound bites from the cast added in. You also get a little too much information on season two as well, so don’t spoil it for yourself. We will find out about Jessi XX on our own (Kyle XY? Jessi XX? Get it?)