Case Number 07370: Small Claims Court

NEWLYWEDS: NICK AND JESSICA: THE COMPLETE SECOND AND THIRD SEASONS

Paramount // 2004 // 412 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Bromley // August 10th, 2005

The Charge

Love means going back for more Newlyweds.

The Case

Here I am, stuck in the same position I found myself in six months ago: attempting to discuss MTV's Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica with some degree of thoughtfulness and introspection. The problem with this is that Newlyweds calls for neither. It's a fluff show about two pretty people leading privileged lives, cut together to make both parties seem equal parts charming and silly. That might be as thoughtful as I can get.

If that sounds like harsh criticism, it shouldn't. I do not belong to the school of thought that loathes or resents Newlyweds for its vapidity. Vapidity, it would seem, is the point. Besides, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are not mean-spirited people. This show, following their day to day lives, is not mean-spirited. Why should my review be mean-spirited? I can't imagine someone watching the show that isn't either a) a fan of Simpson or Lachey, or b) finds them to be a "cute couple." Well, I happen to be married to someone who falls into both camps (more "b" than "a," but that's apples and apples), so I find myself watching a great deal more Newlyweds than I probably would otherwise. That's not a complaint -- the lady loves her Newlyweds, and I'm happy to oblige -- but rather an explanation of my tolerance level of the series.

I suppose that's what it comes down to: whether or not you can tolerate the show. It's really the only basis I can think of upon which to "review" a series like Newlyweds. To the wife and me, who find the gag of the show amusing and take it all as fluffy fun, it's an entertaining diversion. To others, it could be an intolerable celebration of shallowness and excess. I suppose both interpretations would be valid, though I might suggest to those subscribing to the latter that it's comparable to believing that Cronenberg's Crash is a celebration of casual sex, or that Shaun of the Dead is a celebration of hateful violence and gore. You've got to consider the spirit in which all of these works were made.

As such, Newlyweds -- Nick and Jessica: The Complete Second & Third Seasons is enjoyable in the way that ice cream and Fountains of Wayne songs are enjoyable. It's kind of like a modern-day I Love Lucy, with Jessica Simpson at the scatterbrained center and Nick Lachey as her level-headed, sometimes put-upon Ricky Ricardo. There isn't any significant change from Season One; the cameras still follow the couple around as they balance their careers, families, and personal lives in the media spotlight. The only aspect of the show that seems to have grown is the editing -- no longer is the focus of Newlyweds's cutting on marital discord between Jessica and Nick, but rather on the two of them vs. outside obstacles (skiing, puppies, babies, roommates, or the dreaded paparazzi). The editing is now used to underscore the show's humor: the repetition of just how many times Jessica says "this is good" while dining out, or Nick's questionable athleticism despite his love of sports, or the frequency with which Joe Simpson (Jessica's creepy dad/manager) talks on his cell phone. Sure, it's got nothing to do with reality (no editing does), but it certainly improves the tone of the show.

Newlyweds -- Nick and Jessica: The Complete Second & Third Seasons comes to DVD courtesy of Paramount. There are twenty episodes in total, spread out over three discs, with each episode (minus the show's opening, which is only present on the first episode in the set) running just under twenty minutes. The shows look good -- even better than they do on TV -- but the audio is a bit of a mess. The only available track is a traditional 2.0 mix, but the balance is way off; the music that plays a heavy role in the show (a great deal of which seems to have been altered for the DVD release) is quite loud and the dialogue quite soft, leaving it difficult to hear and understand what is being said at times. The lack of any available subtitles only compounds the problem.

The third disc contains a handful of extra features, essentially designed to please fans and no one else -- an idea that's pretty much in keeping with the show as a whole. There are twenty minutes of deleted scenes, most of which are just extensions of scenes that were kept in the episodes. There's an "MTV Timeline" feature, which is basically just a compilation of clips from various MTV shows that chronicle the progression of Nick and Jessica, both personally and professionally. A "Happy Birthday, Jessica" special is actually just a bonus episode of the show, in which Nick surprises his wife with a much-coveted new puppy during her tour. Finally, as with the DVD release of the first season, there are montages of the funniest/most embarrassing moments from seasons 2 and 3; there's no new material here, but it does manage to condense much of what's appealing about Newlyweds into a much smaller package.

Newlyweds has ended its four-season run on MTV (meaning there's a good chance I'll be revisiting the show for the final season's DVD release) so that Jessica Simpson can begin her career as a film star -- as I'm writing this weekend, she's opening in the new Dukes of Hazzard movie. I guess it's fitting that Newlyweds end around the same time that the wife and I finish out our first year as newlyweds; sure, we didn't have prosperous music careers and weren't followed around by camera crews, but I see some of us in Nick and Jessica (not the ditzy parts, of course). I may never be able to surprise her with a puppy in front of thousands of screaming fans, or spring insanely expensive diamond earrings on her, but I'll always be willing to review the new Newlyweds set. Sometimes, it's the little things that say "I love you."

Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 412 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Deleted Scenes
* Nick & Jessica MTV Timeline
* Happy Birthday Jessica, From Nick Special
* "Jessica Moments" Highlight Reel
* "Nick Moments" Highlight Reel

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0380934/combined

* Official MTV Site
http://www.mtv.com/onair/dyn/newlyweds-nick_and_jessica/series.jhtml?_requestid=287442

* Jessica Simpson Official Site
http://www.jessicasimpson.com/

* Nick Lachey Official Site
http://www.nicklachey.com/