The protagonists are the members of the Gonzales family, who live in East LA. The serieschronicles their many ups and downs, some comical — struggles between the father and hisfirebrand activist daughter, the drama queen aunt confronted by her daughter’s desire to be asingle mother — and other are less so, as in the recently paroled son who finds the difficulties ofparenting compounded by legal entanglements. The makers of the series are proud that this is thefirst of its…kind to feature an entirely Latin cast (including Edward James Olmos, Sonia Braga andRaquel Welch), and the aims (which include incorporating aspects of magic realism) areambitious, even if the execution is sometimes overly familiar.
This is, apparently, a Dolby 2.0 mix. I wouldn’t have known without checking. I would havepegged the sound as mono. But now, if I listened very, very carefully, with my ear plasteredagainst a rear speaker, I occasionally heard traces of music and effects. I also heard deep silenceand moments of electronic hum. The sound in the featurette is much more impressive. So, notmuch by way of surround, though the actual sound reproduction is otherwise clear.
The format is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen — it’s nice to see more and more TV showsadopting this ratio. The colours are very bright, the image sharp, and the blacks and flesh tonessatisfyingly solid. The series was made using a variety of formats (35 mm, hi-def, Super 8 film,and so on), and the various textures associated with these formats are faithfully reproduced. Agood-looking TV package.
The pride the participants have in this series is apparent in the abundance of commentaries.Every single story has an audio commentary, often (but by no means exclusively) by creatorGregory Nava. Short introductions set the scene as well for both individual episodes and theseries as a whole. The other extras are on the last disc. Here you will find deleted scenes from 10different episodes. An interactive family tree is a cutesy but rather pointless feature whereselecting a name treats you to a short home-movie montage. There are two featurettes: a behind-the-scenes promo thing (the usual bit of non-stop enthusiasm), and the more focussed andinteresting interview with DP Brian J. Reynolds. There are bios of just about everybody, an anti-smoking PSA, and something called “highlights of Cisco’s Journal.” This is basically a confusingpromo for the big interactive DVD-ROM feature. The menu is basic, and very slow to transitionfrom one screen to another.
Though the sound doesn’t deliver as promised, this is otherwise a very nice presentation ofthe first season, handsomely boxed, and with a load of commentaries that goes far beyond what Iwould have expected.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- On-Screen Introductions
- Interactive Family Tree
- Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
- Interview with DP Brian J. Reynolds
- 10 Deleted Scenes
- Cast and Crew Biographies
- Highlights from Cisco’s Journal
- DVD-ROM: Cisco’s Journal