10 August 2013

TV DVD Review: "Life with Derek: Let the Games Begin!"

Rated: TV-G
Starring: Ashley Leggat, Michael Seater, and Jordan Todosey
Released: February 19, 2009 (DVD)
Synopsis: Casey (Ashley Leggat) was perfectly happy living with her mom and younger sister...but her life was in for a big change when her mother got married! To make things even more complicated, her new stepfather has a son, Derek (Michael Seater), who is as used to being in charge as she is.  Battles of wills ensue, as well as plenty of pranks and disputes.  With a family like this, though, there's plenty of hilarity in store! As seen on the Canadian Family Channel and the Disney Channel.

Artistic Merit

Plots: 4/5
Sure, longtime TV watchers have seen this stuff before, but it still works pretty well and proves to be entertaining nonetheless.  I finished the entire disc in two days.

Acting: 5/5
I didn't notice any poor acting.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 3.5/5
Casey speaks out against sexism, and Derek's objectification of women is vilified.  Casey also makes a self-sacrifice to help out her parents.  It is shown that playing games of chance--aka gambling--is not a good thing, and Derek is shown as a jerk for cheating at them.

Sexual Content: 3.25/5
The "Babe Raider" episode starts with Derek playing a game called Babe Raider--a nod to Tomb Raider--and Casey speaks out against it.  It is mentioned that the game has a "topless" level.  The parents of this blended family are seen "making out".

Nudity: 3.75/5
Casey wears a bare-midriff outfit in both the opening title sequence and one scene in one episode.  She is also seen only wearing a towel.  Derek has posters of scantily clad women in his bedroom.

Violence: 4/5
Slapstick violence, including pranks--aka practical jokes--is the rule here.

Drugs: 5/5
No usage of drugs or alcohol.

Language: 4.5/5
A misuse of God's name and the euphemism "flippin'" are as bad as it gets.

Other: 3.5/5
Casey pulls a prank on her school's principal to get Derek in trouble; though she is able to keep him from being punished, she never gets punished.  She also tells her mother to divorce her stepfather.  Some of the humor involves bodily functions.

Conclusion: In Canada, the shows we call "Disney" appear on the Family Channel, not to be confused with the name-betraying ABC Family network we have in the US.  It makes sense, then, that the two channels in neighboring countries would try their hand at co-producing a show.  Unfortunately, just within this four-episode set alone, I found the content to be more bawdy than what one would expect from the Mouse network or even their main competitor, Nickelodeon.  From my online research, it would appear that the content is even worse in the rest of the series: more/harsher profanities and additional sexual content.  Though season sets are available on DVD, discerning families might want to stick to Austin & Ally or Shake It Up.  As fun as this DVD was by itself, kids might want more than just these four episodes, and you might not feel right giving it to them; therefore, this disc, as good as it is, might be best avoided.

Score: 3.75/5

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