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The Real World
The Complete First Season

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 303 minutes

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $32.99

Features: Series Pilot, Commentary, Cast Profiles, Acceptance Letter

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Surround, Episode Selection, 2-Disc Set

Released: September 24th, 2002

 

 

It's pretty amazing to me that well after ten years, MTV's "The Real World" is still such a popular staple on the network that is far from dying out. Compared to "Survivor" which has been barely on CBS for two and a half years as I write this (who cares about that?), "The Real World" still does really well in the ratings (well, for cable at least) and makes fine water cooler chat still. I guess it's normal for humans to still be interested in how other humans interact with other humans: talking, loving, backstabbing... you've been there. Just maybe not in a house in some major city with a whole bunch of other people.

Still, I don't think people give enough credit to "The Real World." Whether you want to believe it or not, I consider it the original reality program that really helped define for the genre. Haven't you noticed those separate camera interviews on reality shows where one person dishes about everyone else alone? I give credit to "The Real World" for that. Naturally, given the crappy amount of reality shows on the television landscape these days, it's become a mess of which came first, who did what, who's suing who and the like. But thankfully, there will always be "The Real World" which broke ground in the first place and after all these years, is as popular as ever. It will certainly never be forgotten (well not with all the merchandise, books, tapes and as of late slew of DVDs).

So this is the first season of the groundbreaking show. While I haven't seen every season in their entirety, from what I've seen, it's pretty clear to the me that the first season is the best. And I think that makes perfect sense, since it was such a new concept and people had no idea what to expect. While it was given in future seasons there would be hook-ups and clashes and a slew of interesting moments as well as crazy roommates, the first season, in my opinion, feels the most "real."

I have to admit it's been such a long time since I've seen anything from the first season (well, besides the recent Back To New York DVD), so this was a welcome refresher in just how amazing the show was and a realization that the show has had somewhat of a decline (even if it does remain fairly interesting). The antics of Becky, Andre, Heather, Julie, Norman, Eric and Kevin still are entertaining, maybe because these are real people and it feels so damn natural. The focus of the show never lets down, as it's simply real people trying to live and deal with real lives.

"The Real World" is simply groundbreaking television at its finest and most purest form. Simply put, this first season is nothing like we have on television now. And I mean that in the dearest, most positive way. Whether you're a newbie to the show (or too young to remember the first season) or have been with all the madness since the start, then this first season is certainly worth revisiting all these years later. Don't miss it!

 

Given the source material is a decade old, it's impressive how clear cut and new it looks. Presented in 1.33:1 full screen (just as it was presented on MTV and now in syndication), it all looks quite fitting. Given, some video footage looks better than others: the more rough camera footage is certainly grainier, not as bright and treads murky waters. However, the more "set footage" is brighter, has better color saturation and sharper fleshtones and detail. As you'd expect since it's so video-ish, there's a lot noise and edge halos. Nonetheless, the episodes look great and no one should be disappointed.

 

The English Dolby Surround tracks are pretty nice. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while the background noises and contemporary music add some punches to an rather ordinary mix. Certainly, there are better Dolby Surround mixes for television shows, but given the "real" nature of the show and how much it is set in its dialogue, it truly does work. Everything sounds fine, no distortion and there really is nothing distracting. It does pit you into the world of the people. Well done, overall. Sadly, there are no subtitles or captions on this release.

 

This is a good deal. It's not loaded, but this season packs some worthy supplements (Columbia/Tri-Star, are you listening?). All housed on the second disc, interestingly enough is the Pilot Episode. Presented in full frame and rather poor sound quality, this is an interesting watch. Lasting about twenty-five minutes, it's not like the show we all know and love. I have no idea if this is a "faux" episode as it has a different cast, but I'm assuming it was some kind of fake to help sell the show. Nonetheless, it's here and makes for some interesting history. I just wish there was some more background on it.

Much better is the Creator Commentary. It's not episodes directly, but features eleven audio clips of co-creator Jon Murray. These audio clips last a good 23 minutes or so, as the man talks about the origins of the show, clears up rumors, talks about troubles the first season faced, his memories of the season, casting the first season, how the show has changed, what the show did for television and much more. This is simply great; Murray is quite insightful on the show as a whole and its aspect. I wish he commented on all the episodes (or some at least) directly, but I learned so much from the time here. "Real World" fans... these clips are a must listen.

Rounding the disc out are Character Profiles that features the lead people before and after, as well as the Acceptance Letter for the show highlighting all the rules and everything. Very nice reads here!

 

I still think the first season of "The Real World" was the best, and Paramount certainly does not disappoint in the presentation of this release. You get all the episodes with fine sound mixes and great transfers, very cool extras and a very respectable price that simply can't be beat. If you're a fan of the show, reality TV in general or looking for something different (especially if you don't have cable and never have experienced the show before), than this first season is really worth getting.