23 April 2013

TV DVD Review: "Sonny With a Chance": Volume One: Sonny's Big Break

Rated: TV-G (US); G (Canadian Home Video Rating)
Starring: Demi Lovato, Tiffany Thornton, and Brandon Mychal Smith
Released: August 25. 2009 (DVD)
Synopsis: Sonny Munroe (Demi Lovato) is about to have her dreams come true! Her favorite show, the sketch comedy So Random!, had a contest, and she won, which means that she will be the newest cast member! Unfortunately, it's not what it seems to be on TV.  Sonny's roommate, Tawni Hart, is a diva, and the two guys, Nico and Grady, are nothing but goofballs; the rivalry with the cast of Mackenzie Falls, which is a drama filmed in the same studio, makes matters even crazier! Whether Sonny is playing musical chairs to win back a parking space, mediating between a feuding Grady and Nico, or doing a "Check It Out" skit with Tawni, hilarity and insanity are sure to ensue!

Plots: 4/5
While the storylines aren't anything special, they allow for plenty of hilarity.  Longtime watchers of the Mouse network know what to expect from their situation comedies, and they definitely get that here.  There's not much else to say in that department.

Production Values: 4.5/5
Nobody, and I mean nobody, makes a sitcom like the Disney Channel.  The talent, humor, and all-around fun and quality that have been present since the days of Lizzie McGuire are more than present here.  The only complaint I have is that the closed captioner got the title of the theme song incorrect in one episode; most viewers probably won't even notice that, but I still found it annoying.

Moral Content: 4.5/5
Many people think of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon productions as being the same, but they're not; not only are the companies that own those networks completely separate, but the Mouse network's shows and movies usually have somewhat cleaner content than Nick's do, and that's true here as well.  The worst the language gets is "butt" or silly names such as "Ivana Tinkle" or "Smelma Pitts."  Violence is purely slapstick.  No sexual content, and the young ladies wear nothing more immodest than sleeveless tops.  Better yet, the episodes make good moral points: Don't fight with your best friend over something stupid.  Don't cheat on a test, no matter how bad you need to pass it.  Don't give up on your friends.  How can you get any better than that?

Conclusion: The above may all sound positive, but I'll tell you why you should not purchase this: It's the only American Sonny With a Chance DVD ever released, and all of the episodes of the show, including the ones on this disc, are available on iTunes for $1.99 each (standard definition).  I have no clue why Disney Channel has always been hesitant to release season sets of their shows; most of their sitcoms have only gotten themed single-disc releases, if even that.  The only exception to that rule that I know of is Lizzie McGuire, and that was a four disc "Volume One" box set, but there was never a "Volume Two".  There is a benefit to this disc, though; if you can borrow it from your local library, or rent/buy it for really cheap, it will give you an idea of what the show is like before charging ninety-plus dollars to your iTunes account for the entire series.  I found this DVD at my local Five Below for a mere five bones; if you search, you might find it cheaper, too.
As with some other series--VICTORiOUS, anyone?--this one ended prematurely; due to Ms. Lovato having to bow out due to health concerns, the show abruptly shifted to just being So Random! We'll never know what the series could have been if it had gone on to its intended end, but that doesn't make the episodes that were filmed any less entertaining.  If you are completely unable to access the iTunes Store, then this is probably the best you can do.

Score: 3.5/5

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