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The Complete First Season
Running Time: 588 Minutes
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Mitchel Musso, Jason Earles, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cody Linley
Retail Price: $39.99
Features: Back Home Again With Miley, Disney Channel Games 2008 Episode 1, Hannah's Highlights: The Idol Side Of Me
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Episode Selection, Chapter Selection (4 chapters per episode)
Released: November 18th, 2008
All the episodes on this first season set are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, just as they aired on the Disney Channel. The video-taped episodes look rather good: these are pretty pristine and sharp transfers. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, fleshtones look quite natural, and detail is well-refined. The flaws are instances of noise and edge halos, but will kids really care about any of all this?
Surprisingly, all the episodes are in English Dolby Surround - whereas past "Hannah Montana" DVD collections had the episodes in English Dolby Digital 5.1. Why Disney didn't include full 5.1 mixes is beyond me - I don't think disc space is a concern for a pretty bare set like this. But I suppose some kiddies might notice, and they might be a disappointed they can't fully rock out in 5.1. Still, for Surround tracks and given the show, they should still satisfy and are definitely sufficient. Dynamics are now more limited, but fidelity is pretty good and there is some bounce on the episodes. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, the sound effects sometimes offer a few effects and the laugh track is audible. I think the 5.1 only makes a difference with the music. While zippy here, it would certainly be more engaging and enveloping if it had more channels to work with. Perhaps Disney will rectify this mistake with the complete second season on DVD.
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are also included, as well as English subtitles and English closed captions via your television.
Not too much, but you know the kids will love it all. All the extras are on the fourth disc. First up is Back Home With Miley, a 7 minute look from November 2007 where Miley and her dad visit the farm she grew up on. (Wow, "Achey Breaky Heart" sure bought a lot of horses!) I don't know how thrilled Miley is to re-discover her roots, as her dad Billy Ray constantly mugs for the cameras. But I guess this is to show a more personal side to the teen sensation, make her more relatable to her fans, etc.
The first episode of the Disney Channel Games is also included, which is a sports competition between Disney Channel stars (it's no Battle Of The Network All-Stars, though!). Of course this is just a brand extension, and probably a subtle plug for other Disney franchises... and perhaps a bit of hype if Disney Channel Games ever makes it to DVD.
Finally, Hannah's Highlights: The Idol Side Of Me provides pop-up style facts during the course of this episode.
Ooh! And there's a t-shirt iron-on included in the package! If I was an 8-12 year-old girl, I would give this extra a 4/5.
Like all of Disney Channel's programming, I'm too old for this... but at the same time, I can see why kids enjoy shows like "Hannah Montana" - it's goofy, innocent fun (see? I'm not a total crummedgon). While the lack of 5.1 tracks on the episodes is suspicious, the episodes look and sound fine overall. Extras, though, are sparse. Even if you picked up previous "Hannah" releases on DVD for the younger ones in your family, I'm sure no collection is complete without the entire first season.