16 November 2013

DVD Set Review: "Early Edition": The Complete First Season

Rated: Unknown, but likely TV-PG for language and violence
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Shanesia Davis, and Fisher Stevens
Released: 1996-1997 (original CBS premieres) / June 24, 2008 (DVD)
Synopsis: After his wife throws him out, and he ends up living in a hotel room, Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights) finds a cat on his doorstep with an issue of the Chicago Sun-Times.  However, he ends up discovering that the paper reports events that have yet to happen.  His longtime best friend Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens, Short Circuit) wants to use the paper for personal gain, but his other friend Marissa (Shanesia Davis), who is blind but seems to have more sight than either of the two guys, advises him to use it for good.  Between murders, accidents, and all the other bad news you can read in any daily paper, it's up to Gary to stop it from happening!
This season features appearances by Pauley Perette (NCIS), Max Wright (ALF), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), and M. Emmet Walsh (My Best Friend's Wedding), as well as cameo appearance by film critic Roger Ebert and figure skater Tara Lipinski as themselves.

Artistic Merit

Plots: 5/5
This is the best part of the series.  Every episode is engaging and convoluted, with the plot taking all sorts of twists and turns.  Sure, you may know how it will end, but actually watching it will make you think otherwise!

Production Values: 4/5
The acting is great, but, these stars are top-notch.  Shanesia Davis deserves high praise for amazingly playing the part of a blind woman, despite not being blind herself.  The soundtrack isn't anything special, but it works.  Where it loses a point is the actual paper itself, if only because some of the articles don't match the headlines; seriously, one of them looks like it was cut and pasted from a Macintosh "read me" file.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Gary regularly puts his life on the line to save others, not only people he doesn't know, but even ones he doesn't like, such as a former boss who fired him or his ex-wife.  Marissa also dispenses some very wise advice.  Though Fishman may be a bit of a jerk, it is shows that his action do not help his case at all.  The episode "Faith" shows belief in God in a positive light, almost in a Touched by an Angel sort of way.

Sexual Content: 4/5
For the most part, kissing is as bad as it gets, though some kisses are passionate.  Sexual dialogue and references are seen or heard briefly a scant few times.  Most notable in this department is that, even though two different episodes show a woman staying in Gary's hotel room, you do not see them waking up next to each other, but instead him sleeping on his bed, and her on the couch.  That kind of morality is the exact opposite of what you'll find on Friends or Big Brother.

Nudity: 4/5
Gary is seen bare-chested in the opening sequence and a few times within the show; Fishman is shirtless in an episode or two as well.  Women wearing midriff-baring or low-cut tops are seen only about three or four times briefly.

Language: 2.25/5
The amount of profanities in each episode ranges from two or three to as many as seven or eight.  Though mild by today's standards, some discerning viewers may opt to watch this via a filter for that reason.

Violence: 2/5
With a show that involves thwarting murders, terrorist attacks, and car accidents, you'd expect there to be plenty of violence, right? Well, there is...but it's almost all the kind you would see on a family-friendly network like The Hallmark Channel.  (It's no surprise that reruns of this show previously aired on Fox Family and PAX.)  Only a select few times does it get even the least bit bloody; probably the most significant scene in this department is when a guy is seen with a bullet hole in his head.  Still, this is definitely not CSI or Saw.

Drugs: 3.5/5
Gary, Marissa, and Fishman tend to hang out in a bar and drink...a lot.  Also, smoking is seen a time or two.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 1.5/5
There's little in this series that isn't intense or frightening; Gary and others end up in perilous situations throughout this series.  Bombs go off; people are shot at; some are nearly killed in various ways.

Other: 4/5
Gary and Fishman use the paper to gamble--well, maybe; if you know the results, is it truly gambling?--though Gary only uses it to get money for people who need it.

Final Score: 4/5
Early Edition is one of the few network shows I watched prior to it being in reruns; still, my mom and I weren't into it until the second season, so, Fox Family helped us see it from the beginning.  Though I remembered some moments from watching it on TV, the plots were all a surprise, as I didn't remember how each scene fit into the plot as a whole.  I probably won't watch this season again, but it was definitely an enjoyable journey.  Though a bit too intense for kids, teens and older would likely love this show if they gave it a chance.

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