Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 5th, 2008
What can I say about Showtime’s huge hit, The L Word? If you don’t already know what this show is about, and I was surprised at the number of people I talked to who didn’t, then I’m pretty sure this isn’t the show for you. Remember the old days when you used to watch
Finished? Good. Now unlike that wonderful muppet inhabited street we were just talking about, The L Word is strictly for the adults in the group. There is little doubt that the series is not only about gay women but for the most part is targeted to that same demographic. If you take a look at the limited extras, it is quite obvious who the intended audience is. There are obvious winks to the lifestyle that I’m really not able to understand, so I missed many of the in jokes. The storytelling is also very much in the vein of a soap opera, so you need to already know these girls before you can really get into these stories. It also doesn’t help to come to this party so late. If you have not been following the show to this point, this is not the time to join in. I suggest that if you are at all interested you go back and start from the beginning. Time and money make that impossible for me, so I’ll have to tell you what I think based on this limited exposure.
This series feels a lot like HBO’s Sex In The City, but with the obvious lesbian point of view. The show follows a diverse group of gay women and takes us into the intimate details of their lives and most particularly their relationships. The cast is solid, and even if I wasn’t able to get to know the characters this quickly, I recognize solid chemistry and acting when I see it. It’s no real surprise to me why this show is so popular with people who like this sort of thing. It’s really a bit outside of my tastes, and not really because of the sexual orientation. Honestly, I’m not a fan of these kinds of heterosexual shows either. I won’t really try to venture into the long list of characters. The season appears to concentrate mostly on the making of a film called Lez Girls. It appears that this production contains several analogies with the series itself. I’m fairly convinced that most people have pretty much made up their mind on this one. If you are considering the plunge, I will tell you that if sexy soap opera stuff appeals to you, you will likely take to this show pretty well. Again, I must warn you, however, to start at the beginning, and not here in season 5.
Each episode of The L Word is presented in its original 1.78 widescreen format. Again, I can’t compare to broadcast versions of the series, but these DVD transfers are quite nice. The sharpness is excellent. Black levels are well above average for television, even in the HD age. Colors aren’t necessarily bright at all, but remain constant and solid throughout. Flesh tones are dead on reference.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is more aggressive than I expected going in. There are not a lot of dynamic opportunities for an audio track to particularly shine here, but it does a wonderful job of immersing the viewer in the show. The plentiful musical numbers are well placed, usually not interfering with the action. Dialog is always easy to hear, and placement is spot on. Not much for the subs here, but who cares?
There are some DVD-Rom extras and some episodes of other Showtime’s series. The real L Word extras are as follows:
Wolfe Video Final Four Party: Apparently this organization runs a huge national party and get together every year in the city where the women’s basketball final four is held. Last year it was here in
Pointe Foundation PSA: This is a donation appeal from the Pointe Foundation which gives scholarships to gay students.
Subaru’s Pink Ride: Yet another PSA. This one covers a bike event that raises money for breast cancer.
Uh Huh Her: Music video.
While this is not my cup of tea, I respect the cast quite a bit here. I’m not sure how many, if any of them, are actually gay, but they immerse themselves enough into the roles that they are extremely believable. I’m sure the appeal to the gay community is that they have genuine characters here to relate to. I’m sure there has been a lot of frustration over the years in the lack of strong gay characters. Showtime, with its lack of network limits, is probably the best place for this kind of a show to live. The characters aren’t caricatures, and if you’re just some nasty guy hoping to get off on a lot of girl sex here, you will be disappointed. The show’s not about the sex, but the characters and the relationships. Showtime has certainly been moving into HBO and its shows like The Sopranos. Now if only we could get that scene with the “Mafia style sit down at the She Bar”.