ABC Family // 2009 // 522 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // March 15th, 2010
The continuing adventures of those crazy college kids.
"Men and women can't be friends. The possibility of sex always gets in the way."
It's time for another semester at Cyprus-Rhodes University, and once again the social lives of our beloved students are a-bubbling. Casey Cartwright (Spencer Grammer, Beautiful Ohio) is attempting to keep her precious Zeta Beta Zeta sorority in the wake of Frannie (Tiffany Dupont, One Night with the King) departing to begin a rival sorority. Rebecca (Dilshda Vadsaria, Bones) has also joined Frannie's new sorority, but only because she's secretly working as a spy for ZBZ. Meanwhile, Rusty (Jacon Zachar, Drunkboat) has recruited a much sought-after new student (Jessie McCartney) to the wild Kappa Tau, which is a big loss for the prestigious Omega Chi and their esteemed leader Evan Chambers (Jake McDorman, Live Free or Die Hard). Evan begins to spin into a pattern of peculiar behavior, leading Frannie to wonder whether their relationship is falling apart.
To make matters even more complicated on the relationship front, Casey becomes tense about her own relationship when she learns just how committed her boyfriend Max is, Rusty starts to fall for the girl that's dating his new Pledge Brother, and Rebecca starts to wonder whether she might be a lesbian after sharing a particularly passionate kiss with another woman.
The 12 Chapter Four episodes (essentially comprising the second half of the second season) are spread across three discs:
* Take Me Home, Cyprus Rhodes
* From Rushing With Love
* Engendered Species
* Big Littles and Jumbo Shrimp
* Evasive Actions
* Dearly Beloved
* Guilty Treasures
* Divine Secrets of the ZBZ Sisterhood
* Social Studies
* Isn't It Bromantic?
* Tailgate Expectations
* At World's End
My feelings on Greek have fluctuated a bit as the show has progressed. I enjoyed the first couple of chapters, but the third one veered too heavily into pointless excursions and grating catfights. While the pointless excursions are still very much a part of this fourth chapter, the overheated melodrama settles down a great deal, which goes a long way towards making the show a pleasant experience again. These 12 episodes are largely dominated by breezy, funny, low-key soap that offers less substance than usual but also less overbearing angst. It's a perfectly pleasant batch of Greek, though I'm still not convinced the show has regained stable ground.
There's plenty of drama to be found, but the drama is handled in a less bombastic manner than in previous chapters. With the exception of the occasional flair-up of Casey/Frannie drama (which remains the single most obnoxious plot line of the show), the characters actually demonstrate some measure of maturity when interacting with each other. Rebecca is no longer the snotty rich girl, but a genuine friend to Casey and Ashley. The longtime rivalry between Cappie and Evan starts to fade and the two begin to get along. The students and faculty stop engaging in endless Animal House-inspired clashes.
While some may bemoan the fact that Greek is more sitcom-ish and lightweight than ever before, I think the change of pace was preferable to watching the show dive deeper into Gossip Girl territory. What saves this chapter are the performances, as the cast demonstrates a better sense of comic timing than ever before. Clark Duke's portrayal of Dale is endlessly giggle-inducing, as Duke manages to infuse the role with loads of wit and oddball hilarity. His expanded presence during this chapter is a huge plus. Amber Stevens continues to demonstrate growth as an actress, while leads Scott Michael Foster, Spencer Grammer and Jacob Zachar all provide stellar turns.
The DVD transfer is just fine, with the bright visuals coming across with warmth and clarity. Detail is just fine, blacks are reasonably deep (though there's a bit of crush at times) and flesh tones are warmly accurate. While the image looks a tad softer than some of the earlier releases, this set is more or less on par with the previous sets. Audio is also fine, though the cutesy scoring does tend to wear on the nerves after a while. It's clean and well-distributed but never exceptional. Extras include a handful of cast and crew commentaries, a series recap, a gag reel, a Jesse McCartney music video, and an EPK-style making of featurettes.
What's really missing is the depth that infused the first couple chapters of Greek. The show once managed to provide a somewhat truthful look at college life that was unafraid of dealing frankly with the reality that sex, drugs, and alcohol play a big part in the lives of many college students. Now, Greek seems considerably less interested in examining relevant real-life issues or in offering an exploration of the pros and cons of the Greek system. These twelve episodes offer a portrait of a goofy sitcom with a smattering of dramatic moments tossed in for good measure. Only time will tell whether the show will remain this way.
In addition, I'm disappointed at how underused Calvin is this season. He's always been one of the show's most compelling characters, and he gets almost nothing interesting to do during these episodes. Also, the heavily-promoted presence of pop star Jesse McCartney doesn't bring much to the show; the singer doesn't get a chance to do any heavy lifting in the acting department.
While my enthusiasm for Greek has sort of puttered out, this is still acceptable teen-centric entertainment with some entertaining performances.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Family
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 522 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gag Reel
* Music Video