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So NoTORIous – The Complete Series

Genre: ,

Cast: Tori Spelling, Loni Anderson, James Carpinello, Zachary Quinto

Creator: Mike Chessler, Chris Alberghini

Rated: NR

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

School:
SUNY Purchase '05

Quote:
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: November 21st, 2006
Click to Buy on DVD or Bluray!
Overall Grade: B

So NoTORIous – The Complete Series

Review By: Rocco Passafuime
RoccoPassafuime@TheCinemaSource.com

So NoTORIous – The Complete Series

When most people tend to look at actress Tori Spelling, they tend to look at her as a talentless hack who had success handed to her by famed producer father Aaron Spelling. However, after a hysterically comedic performance in the gay indie film Trick, she's managed to prove herself adept as a comic actress.

While still by and large being merely relegated to roles in awful made-for-TV film fare, Spelling felt it was time to turn her caricatured tabloid image on its head by creating a sitcom loosely based on her own post-90210 experiences. Originally intended for NBC, the network soon passed on it, but VH1 was willing to take a chance with it. The result is So NoTORIous, with the complete series now available on DVD.

The sitcom stars Spelling as a skewed version of herself as she tries to find love and deals with getting roles in awful made-for-TV movies, known as "F-movies" to support herself while regularly dealing with her self-absorbed, seemingly obsessive compulsive mother Kiki ( Loni Anderson). She also has to support her leeching, but loyal circle of friends from childhood, which include her overly criticizing "GBFF" (gay best friend forever) Sasan (Zachary Quinto), her lecherous, coattails-riding roommate Pete (James Carpinello), and her go-getting real estate agent gal pal Janey (Brennan Hesser).

On her various journeys, Tori loses and tries to retrieve her precious Blackberry in a effort to land a Steven Soderbergh film, deals with Pete's rather foul girlfriend who defiles her personal things, visits a Santeria priestess (guest star Whoopi Goldberg) after she believes her mother has cursed her, deals with taking her narcissist mother along to church with the family's nanny (Cleo King), and much more.

While the nine episodes in this series are rather silly and often formulaic and patchy, Tori Spelling herself constantly shines as a thinly-veiled caricature of herself. Her willingness to take spot-shots at herself so much and to act so hysterically over-the-top adds to her character's awkwardly quirky sweetness and likeability. This is particularly true with Tori's campy and hilarious flashback sequences.

What also adds to the series is how the supporting characters as a whole are strong and often equally as engaging. Quinto's bitchy flamboyant performance as Tori's gay best friend is a hoot. And Anderson's hilarious and over-the-top caricature of Tori's mother is spot-on perfect, while managing to even to bring such surprising likeability to such a seemingly vainglorious character.

The DVD's picture quality is in the 1:33:1 full frame standard of their original television broadcasts and the sound is in standard Dolby Stereo 2.0. The DVD is also filled to the brim with plenty of special features.

The first are commentaries on four choice episodes by Spelling and co-creators and producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler. While they are often inconsistent at times in levels of engagement and there are often

pauses, they are adequately informative and revelatory of how much they enjoyed working on the series.

There's also a bonus episode on the DVD titled "Canadian" that premiered not on VH1, but on the network's sister gay-and-lesbian channel LOGO. While it's a great episode, it's obviously a cheap incentive by VH1 to get people to buy the DVD set.

There are also outtakes that you can play alongside each episode. While not all of them are particularly funny, they are a nice add and revelatory of the enjoyable atmosphere of the actors on the set.

There are also numerous cast interviews with VH1 VJ Aamer Haleem as well as behind-the-scenes featurettes. They are numerous to the point of overwhelming, but they are relatively brief and are welcome adds, showing how much effort the network put into providing additional material. One can't help but feel a little heartbreak though for Haleem and the other actors at their hopes for a follow-up season, as the series was cancelled by VH1 during the summer due to low ratings.

Rounding off the special features are the producers' favorite deleted scenes from six choice episodes with their commentary on each one. The only annoying thing about this, however, is one is not given the option to watch the deleted scenes without it.

All in all, So NoTORIous, unlike many of VH1's numerous celebrity-centered series, was one that was deeply underrated. It's constantly upbeat and hilarious campy nature, great characters, and terrific performances from Tori and the cast makes one wish the series had not ended so soon. But as it is, the series is a great showcase of Spelling's undeniable comedic talent as an actress and validates her as far more than just the Spelling princess.

Movie Grade: B
Special Features Grade: B+
Overall Grade: B

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