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" Looks like Spielberg’s work "
— Will Smith, Men in Black II

MRQE Top Critic

Ballroom

An exercise in atmosphere, with some really inspired surrealism —John Adams (DVD review...)

Trividic et al haunt the Ballroom

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Warning: This is not life as we know it. This is life as jocks and sorority girls wish it could be. The Life As We Know It television series is rarely a pleasure to watch, and unless you are a die-hard fan of the show, I’d say stay away from this DVD set.

Death to the Pigs

This band of tenth graders look older than I do
This band of tenth graders look older than I do

This is the story about three high school sophomores: Dino, Ben and Jonathan, and how they deal with all of life’s little problems: school, relationships, divorced parents, sex; it’s all here! Dino is the “leader” of the gang and, despite being named after the Flinstone’s pet dinosaur, is a real ladies man. In the pilot episode, he proclaims, “I could have any girl I want!!!” — that’s the kind of protagonist we have to deal with for thirteen episodes. Ben on the other hand, hasn’t got much action, but is determined to get laid by the end of the school year. Jonathan is the more kind, humane of the three, and the other two make fun of and humiliate him a lot.

So how do the episodes play out? In the first one, Dino sees his mother and his hockey coach having an affair, and instead of confronting her in a civil way, he sulks around and breaks up with his girlfriend. Ben has a big crush on his English teacher, and we quickly learn she has a crush on him as well. Despite the fact that he is only 16 years old, they start secretly dating. Jonathan starts going out with a chubby girl, which gives the other two guys endless material to ridicule him with.

This is all just in the pilot, mind you. The rest of the series isn’t nearly as unrealistic, crazy or interesting, but there are a few entertaining moments throughout. Ben tries to break up with the teacher later in the series and she starts failing the girl he wants to date, while also making his life a living hell by sleeping with his older brother. Dino can’t get an erection so he steals Jonathan’s dad’s Viagra, and takes a whole bunch of them... right before wrestling class.

Paranoid Android

This show had a lot of potential, but too many things brought it down. First, was the casting. Besides the fact that the acting is atrocious across the board, this band of tenth graders look older than I do. A common style the series boasted was when a highly dramatic or emotional sequence was happening, the world around a character would freeze and they would speak their feelings on the situation. Not only is this concept corny, but is executed very poorly on the part of the actors and writers.

And the writers were obviously running out of material as the season went along. To get themselves out of traps they had written themselves into, they developed a very simple formula, at around the time of the fourth episode: Something drastic happens to a character; instead of acting rationally, the character lies to other characters; the worst happens to the character for lying; a lesson is learned. This happens over, and over, and over again until even the most determined viewer loses interest.

DVD Extras

I can only see the extras being enjoyable if you enjoyed the show. The feature that fans will be most thrilled about is the extra two final unseen episodes. To me, the season was best off without them, but they are harmless and if you enjoyed the bizarre antics of this unrealistic series, you’ll love them.

There’s the Life as We BLOW it gag reel, which does indeed blow. You watch as the silly actors fall off things and giggle at each other. They also make faces into the camera, and laugh in hysterics when the script demands one of them to say “penalize.”

The deleted scenes portion made no sense to me because they are all lumped together, so we don’t know which scenes go with which episode, and their significance is ultimately pointless.

The audio commentaries are done by the executive producers, the writers, and a director. Having five people do an audio commentary isn’t such a great idea. The conversations are all over the place and don’t have much to do with what is actually going on on the screen.

Picture and Sound

Both are good, as television series go. No problems.

Overall

As for the actual show, if you like watching Abercrombie-wearing jocks treat women like sex-objects while creating unrealistic high school drama, this is for you. The DVD features will satisfy anyone who is a fan of the show, especially the two un-aired episodes, but if you weren’t head-over-heels for this series, I’d say wait for re-runs.