Life As We Know It: The Complete Series

Pulled from network television almost as fast as you can say "Ambesol" or "Who's Your Daddy?," Life As We Know It was an obvious attempt by ABC executives to crack the teen market that found hits with The O.C. and One Tree Hill. Even casting a recognisable face in Kelly Osbourne as a central character couldn't keep this series afloat, as it sank after only 11 episodes. Fans of the show though will find some salvation in this DVD package, as two unaired episodes have been included to complete the moot cliff-hanger. Set in Seattle, the show's priority is the lives of three 16-year-old boys: Dino, the gorgeous jock; Ben, the handsome brainiac; and Jonathan, the cute dufus. Their teen-hood is attacked with constant dilemmas involving sex, sex, and well, sex, amongst a few other less important predicaments (like cars, jobs, divorce, stealing, etc.). Narrating a show from the viewpoint of three teen guys isn't a bad idea, but the way Life approaches this method is not only weak but also embarrassingly corny. Throughout an episode, each character will turn to the camera in full Ferris Bueller mode, while time stops in the background, so they can address how they either want to have sex or cheat on their girlfriend or… you get the picture. Those hungry for another teen (melo)drama should be able to bypass such a repugnant feature, which does lessen towards the end, but the series really does start off on the wrong familiar foot. The pilot, which is often not the finest episode of a season/series, is unabashedly filled with banal clichés from this sub-genre, copping two from Dawson's Creek's first season alone (cheating mom and student nailing his teacher). Such sloppy writing should have made this a failure in its initial testing, but in all fairness the series does pick up towards its unfulfilling yet explicable ending. Of course, following The O.C.'s taste-making influence, music tries to play a big part in the show — cue "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand as Dino finds his mom doing his hockey coach — but it feels so oblivious and slight that when they try to slip in Interpol/Joy Division comparisons in a conversation between Dino and his counsellor (the great Peter Dinklage) it feels forced and a little discomforting, which in a way sums up the overall feeling of this program. And in case you're wondering, Kelly Osbourne can't act her way out of a wet paper bag, but bless her for trying. The extras are fairly predictable, with some audio commentaries for select episodes by writers, producers, directors and cast members, and the outtakes, nicely titled "Life As We Blow It," are as insignificant as the deleted scenes. Plus: photo gallery. (Buena Vista)