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LIONS GATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Anna Nicole Smith, Daniel Smith, Bobby Trendy, Howard K. Stern, Kim Walther, Sugar Pie

Tagline:
It's not supposed to be funny ... it just is.

Synopsis:
Watch hours and hours of the "Queen of Reality TV" on this 3-disc DVD set packed with bonus features and outrageous UNCENSORED FOOTAGE! No Bleeps, No Blurs!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 293 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 11/4/2003

Bonus:
• Bonus Episode: “The Holiday Special”
• Anna Nicole Audio Commentary for “The Holiday Special”
• Deleted Scenes
• “Anna Nicole Speaks On...”


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Anna Nicole Show: The First Season (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 15, 2004)

Since the reality TV boon began in the late Nineties, it’s gone through a few different trends. Initially we got lots of hardship-based programs like Survivor and Fear Factor, but things broadened into other areas as well. Lately the big genre seems to be connected to dating, as we watch the attempts at romance of folks via shows like Joe Millionaire and The Bachelor.

Because of The Osbournes, another offshoot involved celebrities. This field seems to be dead, as The Osbournes went from sensation to senility in record time; it struck big for its first season but faded badly during its second.

It didn’t die off quickly enough to avoid spawning imitators. Probably the most notorious was the “E” Channel’s Anna Nicole Show. With the tubby famed widow at its forefront, it became a televised train wreck, as Anna Nicole Smith quickly earned the title of Most Embarrassing Former Playboy Playmate. Since that competition includes Pamela Anderson, this was no mean feat.

I normally avoid these reality TV shows, and I try to limit the television series I watch on DVD. They take up so much time for one measly review that they mostly aren’t worth the effort unless I really like the series. I made an exception for The Anna Nicole Show mostly out of perverse curiosity. I don’t have cable, so I never saw it on “E” – could it really be as bad as I heard?

Read on to find out my thoughts. This three-DVD set includes 13 regular episodes of The Anna Nicole Show. The following synopses come straight from the DVD’s liner notes:

DVD ONE:

House Hunting: “Anna Nicole and her crew go searching for Anna’s new dream home. Find out why Anna’s seeing pink and why she has such a fetish for bathtubs. Plus, it’s the Guess 20th anniversary party, and Anna Nicole joins in the wild celebration.”

The Introduction of Bobby Trendy: “Anna Nicole consults her interior designer, Bobby Trendy, about her new home. Find out what’s buggin’ Anna on her way to Trashy Lingerie. Also, Anna makes an appearance on Larry King Live”.

The Eating Contest: “Anna Nicole eats up a storm and wins an argument with her attorney. Also, Anna gets a tattoo touch up, plus Bobby Trendy delivers the goods. Finally, Anna’s assistant Kim says what’s on the tip of her tongue and gets the point.”

The Dentist: “Anna Nicole has a nail-biting experience at the dental office. Also, Bobby Trendy brings in more surprise furniture. Finally, Anna shows she’s a daredevil at Magic Mountain”.

DVD TWO:

Las Vegas, Part I: “Anna and her entourage take a trip to Sin City – Las Vegas. Anna gets the VIP treatment with front-row seats to the Chippendale dancers. Then Anna terrorizes pedestrians as she takes the wheel of a golf cart. Plus, Anna shares the love, buying lap dances for Howard and Kim.”

Las Vegas, Part II: “Sin City starts to take its toll as the gang hangs out in the company of some lovely strippers and then hits the road. Back in LA, private chefs hold a cook-off to see who will be making home-cooked meals. And don’t miss the return of Bobby Trendy!”

Pet Psychic: “Anna brings in a heavy-hitting friend to trade blows in the pink ring with the reigning king of luxurious furniture: Bobby Trendy. Plus, a pet psychic pays a visit to ‘communicate’ with Sugar Pie, who appears to be suffering from separation anxiety.”

Cousin Shelly: “Anna’s cousin arrives unexpectedly on Anna’s doorstep. Also, Anna displays some feisty attitude when she goes toe-to-toe with KROQ DJs after some less-than-flattering comments are made. Anna appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”.

The Driving Test: “In her quest for a California driver’s license, Anna studies hard for the written portion of her test, then hits the road with her instructor to learn the finer points of getting along with her follow motorists. Anna takes a detour to a local go-cart track to work on her ‘road rage’ attitude.”

NYC Publicity Tour: “Anna and her entourage head east for a promotional tour in New York City. Find out how Anna handles the fast-paced lifestyle, including interviews with Regis & Kelly and Howard Stern. After such a long day, there’s only one thing a woman has time for – shopping!!!”

DVD THREE:

Paintball: “Anna and friends declare war on each other in a friendly game of paintball. Anna, Kim and Sugar Pie make an appearance on Hollywood Squares. Plus, an evening of erotic puppetry, kinky shopping sprees, champagne and a drag show where the main attraction is Anna herself!”

Halloween Party: “Anna’s had enough of Bobby Trendy and takes out her frustrations on the luxurious furniture. Plus, it’s Kim’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than to throw a costume party?”

The Date: “Anna finally gets her man... or so it appears. Anna gets a date with a wealthy and successful businessman who’s looking for that perfect match. Tag along on Anna’s blind date and find out if this is the one for her.”

Before I watched The Anna Nicole Show, my friend Kevin warned me that it wouldn’t be as entertaining as I anticipated. At first I thought I might agree with him, as the first few episodes seem less than exciting or fascinating.

However, once the soap opera elements of the Bobby Trendy saga entered the series, it became more fascinating. Anna Nicole suffers from a lack of storyline. Other reality series focus on a certain goal – romance, stardom, riches – but at the start of this show, nothing like that existed. Once we saw more and more of the conflicts with Bobby, however, the series became more interesting. I must admit I kept watching to see the tension escalate between the various parties.

On the negative side, the Trendy saga plays up one concern with this sort of “reality” show: how real are these people actually being? At the start, Bobby comes across as slightly effeminate, but as the year progresses, he turns more and more flamboyant. It becomes readily apparent that he’s playing up his stereotypical traits for the camera, and while these remain entertaining, the obviously fake elements detract from the material somewhat.

Not that I watch Anna Nicole because I expect some really true to life escapades, and it remains totally unclear just how much of Anna Nicole is her and how much is a character. God, I hope that a lot of it’s an act, as I can’t imagine a more annoying personality. Tremendously narcissistic and self-absorbed, Anna clearly believes the world revolves around her. She consistently acts like a four-year-old as she whines, complains and pouts.

Possibly the saddest element of the series comes from the eagerness of those around her to satisfy Anna’s demands. She enjoys a long roster of hangers-on who strive to please her and please her every whim. The main offenders are her attorney Howard and her assistant Kim. They’re with her constantly and suck up to her incessantly. Actually, Howard gives her some crap from time to time, but he remains more of a lackey than a lawyer. We rarely see him deal with legal issues; instead, he just pals with her, gets drunk, and takes care of her needs.

I badly wanted to see someone bitch-slap Anna and tell her to grow up. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why she inspired so much devotion from these folks. As depicted on the series, she’s a genuinely unpleasant personality. She seems permanently dazed and intoxicated, and she almost never displays any concern for others. She forces the others to accede to her demands no matter how much they don’t want to do so, such as when she insists that Kim continue to go on amusement park rides even after one rollercoaster ride leaves her in tears.

Perhaps the series’ most telling moment comes from one of its deleted scenes. After a birthday party she throws for Kim, the latter gets very ill and starts to vomit in the backseat of their limo. As this occurs, Anna and Howard virtually ignore her so they can cajole another friend to come over and party some more! The pairing of Kim’s wretching with Anna and Howard’s oblivious insistence that the party continue seems stunning – have more superficial people ever been depicted on TV?

For the most bizarre social dynamic, “The Date” offers the series’ highlight. Here Anna goes out with a guy she meets through “The Millionaire’s Club”, a dating service that exists solely to pair really rich men with really hot women. Frankly, I can’t figure out who considers the obese and trashy Anna to be attractive. She looked pretty good back in her Playboy days, but here she just looks nauseating. I was genuinely shocked at how fat she’d become, and her sleaziness makes her even less appealing.

The dating service sets her up with Claude, an Internet entrepreneur. He seems like a fairly intelligent and nice guy, and given that his website deals with bikini models, it appears odd he’d have to sign up for a dating club and even weirder he’d want to meet porky Anna.

As the date progresses, he becomes just another of her sycophants. He tries way too hard to impress her and kisses her enormous ass through the entire date. Why? What could he possibly see in her? Claude seems terribly smitten, though he can’t truly find anything about her to be of interest. He comes across as fairly bright and cultured, and Anna is nothing other than trailer trash made good.

Speaking of which, one of the series’ characters makes Anna look like Princess Frigging Grace: Anna’s cousin Shelly. So trashy that even Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel would be embarrassed to be seen with her, Shelly seems pathetic, desperate, and even dumber than Anna. I never thought I’d witness Anna in the position as the classier one, but she seems much smarter and more sophisticated than the scummy Shelly.

Only one participant in this mess comes across with any sense of self-dignity: Anna’s teen son Daniel. Clearly a reluctant member of the cast, Daniel rarely appears on camera. Some of that likely stems from the adult nature of many of the show’s escapades; sex and alcohol dominate the programs, so obviously the underage Daniel can’t get involved in these.

I’d also guess that he doesn’t appear much due to his obvious discomfort with the proceedings. Occasionally he shows up due to his mom’s demands, such as we he exceedingly reluctantly goes along with an eating contest. Shots like that are when the series becomes the most painful and voyeuristic to watch; there’s no fun in watching a clueless beast like Anna push around her humiliated son. Plenty more shots like that probably exist, but the show’s producers were wise enough to leave them out of the finished programs.

Daniel still comes across with a level of maturity and class that make you wonder why he doesn’t file for legal emancipation. How in the world the spawn of Anna seems to be so well adjusted may go down as a formal miracle, though I did start to wonder if he owns anything other than Nirvana T-shirts.

Granted, one must take much of the material here with a shaker of salt. As I’ll discuss when I get to it, Anna’s commentary for one episode indicates that some of the events were fabricated for TV. That leads one to question the reality of much of the stuff. We also must wonder how often the participants play-act for the cameras. I believe that their core personalities are on display, but they may bring out more exaggerated versions of themselves for the show. I already mentioned that Bobby Trendy clearly accentuated his flamboyant tendencies more and more as the series progressed. Anna seemed pretty out of it from start to finish, so maybe that’s really what she’s like. Who knows? In any case, the series appears entertaining, but it loses a little of its bizarre impact if we know it’s been faked.

Fans of the show will be happy to discover the programs on the DVD all come uncensored. Mostly that means the bleeps that covered profanity disappear. Given the amount of vulgarity heard on this series, this means a lot of unaltered speech; I’d imagine some of the shows came across as little more than one long bleep. We also get some nudity from time to time. Thankfully, neither Anna not her butch assistant Kim ever show any skin, but we see some topless strippers, bare-assed Chippendales dancers, and full frontal from the scary Puppetry of the Penis guys. Scary Shelly flashes her bony chest during one episode as well, a sight that briefly led me to think of gouging out my own eyes.

Chalk up The Anna Nicole Show as a very guilty pleasure. I’m not proud of myself for watching it or enjoying it, but there it is. Maybe I just like the feeling of moral superiority I get from seeing the antics of an obese idiot, but the show offers a surprisingly addictive experience.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus B+

The Anna Nicole appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite some inconsistencies, I thought the programs mostly looked quite good.

Sharpness usually seemed solid. Shot on the fly, the shows occasionally suffered from some iffy focus, and the mix of camera types also led to a little less definition at times. However, most of the images appeared nicely distinctive and well defined, and I noticed only a little softness on occasion. Some jagged edges and shimmering occasionally popped up, but these stayed minor, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. At times, the picture looked noisy due to filming conditions such as low light, but no artifacting or real source flaws appeared.

Again, given the on the fly nature of the project, some visual issues became inevitable. Sometimes the darkness of the picture made it look murky, while on others light levels turned so high that they washed out various elements. Nonetheless, blacks usually appeared pretty deep and firm, and low-light shots were mostly well defined and concise. Colors presented a high point of the disc, as they consistently came across as lively and vivid. The world of Anna Nicole enjoyed a lot of bright hues, and these usually seemed accurate and vibrant. Ultimately, the variety of conditions meant that some parts of the image suffered, but I mostly felt impressed with the show’s visuals.

While The Anna Nicole Show presented a Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack, I couldn’t hear any evidence of a proper soundfield. Actually, the whole thing seemed very monaural to me. I didn’t stick my head up against each speaker to investigate, but as I watched, it appeared that all the audio emanated from the front center. I noticed no evidence of stereo music or any form of effects from the sides or rear.

Despite the mix’s lack of ambition, it seemed satisfying. For one, the project didn’t require a broad soundfield. For another, the audio sounded quite good, even with the obstacles taken from on the fly recording. Speech occasionally suffered from poor conditions, but most of the dialogue was appropriately natural and concise. Effects were a bit small and lifeless, but given the conditions of their recording, I didn’t see this as a problem; the disc represented them as well as possible. Music seemed pretty rich and full, as the show’s songs and score sounded lively and distinctive. Bass response was firm and tight and added a nice punch to the music. The audio of Anna Nicole lacked enough scope to merit a grade above a “C”, but it seemed satisfying nonetheless.

The Anna Nicole Show comes with a mix of supplements. Each episode includes deleted scenes. We find at least one clip for each program, and some shows present more than that. All in all, we get 31 deleted scenes. These last between 16 seconds and 12 minutes, 46 seconds for a total of 75 minutes, seven seconds of footage.

Don’t expect much hidden gold here. For the most part, we can easily see why the clips got the boot, as most of them seem dull and pointless. Occasional gems arise, such as the one I mentioned in the body of my review in which Kim gets sick. We also get the full “KROQ Interview” – which makes the radio DJs look much less obnoxious than on the final episode – and a positively surreal silent clip in which we just see Anna and Kim in the back of a limo while the latter eats her breakfast from McDonald’s. Otherwise, it seems that they left the dross on the cutting room floor and put most of the good stuff in the actual shows.

On Disc Three, we get a bonus episode: the “Christmas Special”. This offers a party at Anna’s house that includes the usual series suspects – minus the hated Bobby Trendy, of course – plus a bizarre mélange of invited “C”-list celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho. (Anna knew none of these people – the folks at E arranged for them to come.) It’s a predictably tacky and lascivious affair, but despite its pre-fab nature, it’s as entertaining as any of the other shows.

In an interesting touch, we can view the Christmas Special with an audio commentary from Anna Nicole. She provides running, screen-specific remarks. As I alluded in the body of my review, Anna points out some faked moments in this episode; the tree didn’t accidentally fall off the car, and Howard didn’t actually burn the turkey. At least these mentions mean that maybe we can take the other moments seriously, which means that apparently Shelly really get as drunk and belligerent as we think. Anna seems disappointingly coherent here. She mostly just points out the names of participants and tells us how drunk she got. It’s moderately interesting but not as much trashy fun as we might expect.

A disappointing extra, Anna Nicole Speaks On... simply consists of ads for various episodes. These take clips from the programs, add a little narration, and that’s about it. The disc presents 12 of these, and they’re not very interesting. In a nice touch, though, all the video extras include both English and Spanish subtitles.

Can one defend The Anna Nicole Show? No, but it’s entertainingly indefensible. A mix of TV fakery and real idiocy, the program offers an suitably bizarre and amusing piece. The DVD presents very good picture plus mediocre sound and a decent collection of extras. I feel dirty, but I have to recommend Anna Nicole to anyone with a perverse sense of voyeurism like me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3214 Stars Number of Votes: 28
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