A&E // 2010 // 460 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // January 29th, 2011
"I'm in a weird band. We've done very well. The American Dream is alive and well." -Gene Simmons
While dozens of other arguably more worthy series have met the cancellation hatchet, for some reason Gene Simmons Family Jewels keeps coming back. Love them or hate them, the Simmons-Tweeds get up to more of their crazy antics with the tried and true formula fans seem to love.
All 17 Season 5 episodes are included with this release, spread over three discs as follows:
* "Shannon the Brave"
* "Waiting is the Hardest part"
* "The Demon Turns 60"
* "Like Father, Like Son"
* "Gene Gets Punked"
* "Don't Mess with the Simmons"
* "Gene the Croc Hunter"
* "Smarty Pants"
* "The Best 100th Episode Ever"
* "Hunks with Hammers"
* "Love Thy Neighbor"
* "Detroit Rock Mommies"
* "Pest Control"
* "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth"
* "Gene's Evil Twin"
* "For the Love of Rock"
The fifth season delivers more of what fans of the series have come to expect: a likeable family going about their normal, albeit financially-enhanced lives. Sure, Gene's cocky and seems full of himself, but if you'd built a multi-million dollar empire essentially with your own two hands, I'd bet you'd be a little smug too. The vast majority of us will never experience even a fraction of the fame and fortune that the Simmons-Tweed family has, so it's kinda fun to immerse yourself in this bizarre mix of celebrity and family life once a week.
Even though most of the situations and stories that play out in each episode feel painfully scripted, you still get the sense that behind it all, these guys are a tight family unit who love each other very much and have a lot of fun together. Some of the most enjoyable moments from the series to date happen, not when things are over-the-top, but when Nick and Sophie start in on Gene and Shannon, taking their superstar parents down a notch or two and reminding them that at the end of the day, they're parents first. As I watched this season, it really struck me that Gene Simmons is not just a successful businessman, but he's also a rock star and, despite living in the shadow of that all their lives, his kids must think it's pretty cool; I know I would.
Highlights this season include: Gene's 60th birthday party, including the first appearance of KISS co-founder Paul Stanley; Gene tours New York with a journalist, visiting landmarks from his past; Gene and Nick discover they're more alike that they thought; Gene appears on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?; Shannon, Tracy, Nick and Sophie race to catch up with Gene on tour; Gene and Nick geek out at Comic-Con; and a comedian steps in to impersonate Gene for radio interviews. There are some parts of the season that take the already unbelievable set-ups a bit too far, but there are still enough laughs and touching moments (yes, I'm serious!) to make Gene Simmons Family Jewels: The Complete Season 5 worth your time.
With a full frame video presentation and a 2.0 audio mix, the A/V presentation is only slightly better than average, but is likely as good or slightly better than it looked and sounded when it originally aired. Similar to The Complete Season 4, released at the same time, the only extra features are an assortment of couch segments that will be familiar to anyone who watches the series; there are some laughs here, but you'll blast through the 20-odd short clips pretty quickly. I've said it before: where are the audio commentaries to shed a bit more light on the real family behind the series?
Sure, Gene Simmons Family Jewels: The Complete Season 5 really pushes the limits of reality TV, but if you check your scrutiny at the door and just enjoy the show for what it is, you might find you enjoy yourself along the way.
Dear A&E, other shows are released with 5.1 audio mixes and anamorphic video, so why not Gene Simmons Family Jewels? Let's try and boost the effort a bit next time, 'kay?
Review content copyright © 2011 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 460 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage
* Official Site