The Good

The Bad

I saw the print advertisements for One Tree Hill and I was really turned off. I mean, here was another show with all the beautiful people, they were dressed in black and it just seemed like an edgier version of all the teen fare that came before it. So I stayed away. I wasn’t going to waste what little time I spend watching TV watching this show. Then the powers that be came to me and asked me to review the One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season. I figured this must be some kind of sign so I sat down.

The DVD tells the tale of two half-brothers living in a small North Carolina town, who carry on different lives. Nathan Scott (James Lafferty) is a basketball superstar and has inherited the throne of high school popularity once held by his father, Dan (Paul Johansson), while Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray), also a talented ballplayer stays in the shadows. Spending his nights shooting hoops on the riverfront court, Lucas is the son Dan never paid much attention to and never seemed to care about. As you can see all of this is pretty standard fare with Lucas and Nathan eventually crossing paths due to Payton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), Nathan’s girlfriend who seems to have a thing for Lucas. Thankfully this show has seemingly resurrected Craig Shaffer(in the role of brother Keith) and suddenly I found myself able to overcome Chad Michael Murray’s glumness and really get into the show.

It isn’t that I have anything against these shows per se, I just find that I can predict basically everything that is going to happen. When I was younger, I watched shows similar to this(Beverly Hills 90210) but there always seemed to be some sort of substance to them. Maybe there wasn’t, maybe I am just older now and a bit jaded. I am not sure what the answer is but I tend to think that my admiration for Craig Shaffer(he starred in one of my all time favorite movies, That Was Then, This is Now), I might be clinging on a bit too heavily to my past.

It is with this realization, that I soldiered through this DVD boxset and was pleasantly surprised. This show wasn’t nearly as predictable as I thought. In fact, the relationships between Nathan and Lucas really hit home in certain ways. There is a brotherly shorthand that exists and I find that this show captures that in a way that few other “brother shows�? are able to. Add to this that almost anyone would like to get to know the Payton Sawyer character and I found myself really starting to “root�? for these people. I wanted both Nathan and Lucas to win even though I know that this is not possible. Now that might be hedging a bit and getting a tad too predictable, but there is a reality to it and if it wasn’t something universal it probably would not be on display here.

So, I don’t think I have particularly changed my tune on shows of this ilk, I will just say that One Tree Hill t than other shows like it. It’s certainly not the best television I have seen and it’s not the best DVD I have ever owned, but at the end of the day, it seems the creators of this show are really trying to say something. They aren’t just going for stock moments that will manipulate the audience. In this regard, One Tree Hill succeeds just fine.

Features

Over 48 minutes of unaired scenes with introductions

TV is a medium that is a slave to the advertising dollars that the ads generate. It has been said that professional football, was forever altered when they cut to the first commercial. I bring all this up because these scenes have a richness to them that I think the medium of television has corrupted. It would have been very interesting if the makers of this DVD had re-edited the shows with these scenes in tact. I know that must sound like a moronic idea, but for a show that is doing everything it can to transcend itself from the typical pap that is pervading the airwaves, I think that a re-edit might have just done the trick to really set put this show in different light.

Exclusive Gavin DeGraw unaired music performance with introduction by the show’s creators

I am not a fan of Gavin DeGraw so I could have done without this. His type of music in my mind epitomizes everything that is wrong with the current state of the music industry. I know that it has always been about the almighty dollar, but when history finally tells it’s tale, it is music like Gavin DeGraw that is going to really fit the term “White Trash Rock�?. Why doesn’t a show like this hook up with someone like Mike Ness(Social Distortion) who really gets some emotion behind their songs. I know he isn’t the most cheery fellow to be in a room with, but neither is the character of Lucas and I think this show acquits him just fine.

One Tree Hill Diaries- A home movie look at daily production on location in Wilmington, North Carolina

This I really liked. Granted, it’s not entirely a “home movie�? it does the job of showing you how a television set is run. It was interesting seeing the day to day happenings, and it was even more enlightening to see the players be so candid. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. As pretentious as these shows can be(especially in their off putting advertising), having a gem like this on the DVD really makes it seem more human.

Creating One Tree Hill: A Winning Team – A behind the scenes retrospective with the cast and crew

The candid moments continue on this supped up version of the home movie. It’s more of the same although we see how the show came together before there was a set. I used to only imagine what the people behind the TV shows had to go through in order to cast and make these things come off and a lot of those questions were answered here. All in all there are a lot of surprising things about this DVD and as usual, I think the “making of�? stuff is actually more interesting then the final product that was made.

Four audio commentaries on three episodes by cast and crew

I am a big fan of commentaries but I actually found these to only be mildly informative. They weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, they were just there. Not doing anything too special, and certainly not adding a lot to the DVD experience. That said, they have their place and I am just glad that these guys think enough of their show to give this DVD the proper treatment. I can think of other “TV on DVDs�? that I like a lot better, that leave me wanting as I screen them.

Video

Full frame here but when you consider that this is a TV show that is par for the course. The transfer is really nice but I wonder how this would look too me if I had watched the show in something like HD when it aired, and then screened the DVDs? Chances are the difference in quality would not be that noticeable. It is quite a clear transfer though. Very clean. It seems that a lot of care was placed on this DVD to make it as high a quality product as Warner Brothers could produce. It shows, and again it is inspiring to see such care go into the craft. In a day and age where many DVDs are released weekly, this DVD separates itself quite well from the pack.

Audio

2.0 Dolby Digital all the way. It sounded great. Everything was crisp and I liked the way it was mixed. Many times I find myself having to manually adjust the sound as I watch a DVD. I am not sure why that is but that was not the case here. It all seemed to play at the right levels making itself as good as one could hope or expect. The music, which is a big part of the show, certainly benefits from how clean the transfer was in all departments. There is a decent mix of slow and aggressive music(there’s that something for everyone again) that this DVD handles nicely.

Package

As I said in the beginning of the review, the main players all look like supermodels. Add to the this the way they are positioned(laying across the DVD, seemingly with everyone touching everyone) and right away the WB can count on viewers tuning in, and probably many of those same viewers purchasing this title. One turn off is how unhappy they all look. Maybe looking the way they do they are used to those situations, but if I had one big complaint about this show it’s that they take themselves too seriously. This DVD cover does nothing to lighten that tone(which isn’t a bad thing) but it does nothing to let you know that what is inside, might not be what you think it is. It truly gets tiring seeing people that look anything but “freaks�? act like “greeks�?. What I liked about this show is that I don’t think it really does that.

Final Word

Okay, I didn’t hate this. Do I regret not watching the show when it originally aired? No. I am happy to have had a chance to revisit and review it in the digital format? Yes.

Packed with extras and done with a great deal of quality, this boxset is certainly something that fans of the show will want to own. I am not going to talk down to you and mention how “little girls�? will probably buy this thing in droves, because that, I feel, takes away from the fact that a lot of hard work went into the making of this show and the DVD. One Tree Hill is a solid show that is backed up by a very solid first season DVD boxset.

Now, if only I could get my mind to stop trying to predict what was going to happen next and get around that darn advertising...