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ENTERTAINMENT ONE

MOVIE INFO

Created By:
Lisa Kudrow, Don Roos, Dan Bucatinsky
Cast:
Lisa Kudrow, Various
Writing Credits:
Lisa Kudrow, Don Roos, Dan Bucatinsky

Tagline:
Therapy with no patience.

Synopsis:
Fiona Wallice is a therapist with no patience. Tired of fifty minute sessions, she devises a new kind of treatment, the three-minute video chat. And still, the sessions end up being largely about her.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 266 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 6/19/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary on All Episodes with Creator/Actor/Writer/Producer Lisa Kudrow and Creators/Writers/Producers/Directors Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Outtakes
• Season Two Preview


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Web Therapy: The Complete First Season (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2012)

Lisa Kudrow returns to TV via Showtime’s Web Therapy. The show came into existence as an improvised Internet series; the Showtime versions added extra footage to fill them out to half-hour length.

With this Season One DVD release of Therapy, we get the series’ first 10 episodes. We’ll view them in the order broadcast. The episode synopses come straight from the DVD packaging.

DISC ONE:

Click to Start: “Fiona Wallice (Kudrow) develops a new brand of therapy for the Internet: three-minute sessions called Web Therapy. To generate interest in her brand she contacts an old employer with whom she’s had a dicey past and takes on a client who has a highly promotable problem.”

Therapy offers an unusual concept for a TV series due to its origins. The original Internet version used short episodes, so packaging them together into attempts at coherent programs may be a challenge. Also, the episodes were largely improvised, and that made them even more dicey.

It’ll be interesting to see how the season develops, as “Click” becomes only sporadically entertaining. Actually, “sporadically” may be unfair, as it implies that the show is spottier than it is, but it does seem inconsistent. Still, it mixes the original footage with the added material to create a fairly well-integrated piece and shows promise, so I look forward to the next show.

Desperate Measures: “Fiona hopes to exploit the sexual problems of her client Jerome (Dan Bucatinsky) to impress her former employer and potential investor. Meanwhile, the frustrations in her marriage lead her to flirt with several of the men she encounters.”

Two episodes in and I’m finding myself unenthused by the series. Like the first show, “Measures” has some funny moments, but it does seem padded; I get the impression the concept might work better in smaller bites as originally presented online. Still, even though I’m a bit disappointed so far, there’s enough potential here to keep me with it.

Shrink Rap: “After her business proposal is rejected by her mother, Fiona encounters another obstacle: Ted Mitchell (Bob Balaban), who’s been hired by the Lachmann Brothers to evaluate Fiona’s abilities – and gets more than he bargains for.”

Therapy begins to rebound with “Rap”, largely due to its guest cast. Balaban does nicely, and the introduction of Lily Tomlin as Fiona’s cold, controlling mother brings a good charge to the series. Add to that Jennifer Elise Cox’s delightfully slutty and dippy Gina and I’m starting to feel more optimistic about the series.

Public Relations: “Fiona blackmails her new client, marketing executive Claire Dudek (Jane Lynch), in order to garner her expert promotion skills for Web Therapy. Then fate hands her another client with a job tailor-made for promotion exploration.”

The series jumps up quite a bit with this strong episode, largely due to the appearance of Lynch. While she threatens over-exposure these days, she’s still awfully good, and her manic turn as Dudek provides great amusement. A few other elements add zest to the show and make it the best to date.

Shrinking and Growing: “Business is booming for reasons unconnected to Fiona’s expertise, but she’s not complaining until she gets a new client with a personal connection to the Wallices.”

The series’ hot streak continues with the pretty good “Shrinking”. While not quite as strong as “Relations”, it still delivers more than a few amusing moments and shows a series starting to get into a groove.

DISC TWO:

We’ve Got a Secret: “Fiona’s marriage crumbles when she discovers her husband’s (Victor Garber) hidden life. Meanwhile, her mother’s (Lily Tomlin) secret past threatens Fiona’s business plan.”

With “Secret”, the series goes more expository than usual. Much of the time the plot synopses aren’t that important, as the shows are fairly self-contained, but that changes here. This doesn’t work totally well, as the emphasis on character and story feels a bit forced. Still, we get some interesting twists, so it offers a pretty good episode.

Exposed!: “Fiona gets her house in order by hiring a new employee and joining forces with her husband to expose the imposter in the family nest.”

“Exposed!” follows the same path as “Secret”, so it functions on about a similar level. Actually, it’s not quite as expository, but it confronts a lot of related material. It does give us a “stoned” Lily Tomlin, though, which is worth the price of admission.

Psychic Analysis: “Fiona gets a new client: an Internet psychic who has lost her powers. Can Fiona find them?”

To preserve the fun, I won’t reveal the identity of the actor who plays the psychic, but let’s just say she’s someone who worked with Kudrow for years. That connection might make her casting feel like a gimmick, but I like it and think it’s a treat to see them together again. Add to that an increasingly nutty turn from Lily Tomlin and this episode works quite well.

Whistle While You Work: “Fiona’s principal investor, Robert Lachmann (Steven Weber), is out of business yet Fiona still manages to make him pay.”

While a decent episode, “Whistle” loses some points because it focuses so heavily on Weber’s character. We hardly see anyone else here, and that narrow concentration makes the show a little spotty. It’s still reasonably enjoyable, but it’s not one of the year’s better programs.

Strange Bedfellows: “Fiona hits it off personally and professionally with a new client, media mogul Austen Clarke (Alan Cumming), until her marriage to Kip suddenly becomes much more attractive.”

Season One concludes in a decent manner here, though not with quite the bang I’d like. Cumming’s character dominates, and the episode is more narrative-driven than usual. As I’ve seen in prior shows, the ones that focus on the overall arc tend to be less amusing, as the series works better with programs that better mix the continuing character development with the one-offs. We find a moderately enjoyable piece here but not one of the year’s better episodes.


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

Web Therapy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a consistently pretty positive presentation.

Sharpness came across pretty well. It helped that the episodes focused on close-ups and two-shots; the usual lack of wider images meant that it was easier for the series to show good definition, and it managed to give us fairly nice accuracy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and the series lacked edge haloes. I also failed to see any source flaws across these clean episodes.

The series opted for a natural palette and managed to demonstrate reasonably vivid colors. They didn’t show great pizzazz, but they offered hues that worked fine. Blacks were dark and dense; given a lack of many low-light shots, shadows weren’t a big factor, but the occasional dim scenes demonstrate fair clarity. This was a solid SD-DVD image.

If ever a series didn’t need a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it’d be Web Therapy. After all, the show revolved around one-on-one therapy sessions, circumstances that didn’t exactly scream “multichannel audio”.

Logically, one would expect these episodes to feature essentially monaural audio, and if one followed that assumption, one would be correct. Music popped up between therapy sequences, and the score delivered decent stereo spread that also used the rears. However, those elements appeared infrequently, so don’t anticipate much from the usually limited soundscape.

At least the audio quality was fine. Speech was the most important factor, and dialogue sounded natural and concise. Music offered reasonable range and pep, but effects were a negligible aspect of the tracks, so they were essentially irrelevant here. This was perfectly acceptable speech-driven sound.

Each episode of Therapy comes with an audio commentary from creator/actor/writer/producer Lisa Kudrow and creators/writers/producers/directors Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos. All three sit together for these running, screen-specific discussions of the origins and development of the Internet series, changes made when the program moved to Showtime, cast and performances, character and narrative elements, sets and visual elements, and other issues.

The commentaries start well, as we get a lot of good material in the track for Episode One. After that, however, matters become spottier. While we still learn a reasonable amount across the other nine shows, the tracks tend to be more hit or miss – and the “miss” really starts to dominate the last few programs. Still, we get enough info to make them worth a listen.

During a nine-minute, 13-second Behind the Scenes Featurette, we hear from Kudrow, Bucatinsky, Roos, and actors Maulik Pancholy and Jennifer Elise Cox. The program looks at the show’s origins and development, aspects of the original Internet series, character/story elements, cast and performances, directing the programs, and general thoughts. Most of the information already appears in the commentaries, so we don’t learn much here, but the footage from the set adds some interest to the piece.

The extras finish with 36 minutes, seven seconds of Outtakes. Although some of these offer alternate lines, they usually consist of standard blooper reel material. I’m glad we get some more glimpses behind the scenes, but I’d hoped the “Outtakes” would be closer to deleted sequences than they are; 36 minutes of mess-ups and laughing seems like an awful lot.

Disc One opens with ads for Hell on Wheels and Rookie Blue. We also find a Season Two Preview for Web Therapy.

Web Therapy offers a TV series with an unusual premise. This orientation doesn’t always succeed, but I think Season One mostly works well, as the shows are often quite funny. The DVDs deliver good picture, acceptable audio and a decent collection of supplements. While I’d like for Therapy to be more consistent, it still gives us more than enough solid comedy to merit my recommendation.

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