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Case Number 24004

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Drop Dead Diva: The Complete Third Season

Sony // 2011 // 561 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // June 20th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Clark Douglas is a former model trapped in an ungainly new body.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Drop Dead Diva: The Complete First Season (published June 1st, 2010) and Drop Dead Diva: The Complete Second Season (published April 27th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

From catwalk to courtroom.

Opening Statement

"Come with me. Maybe we'll meet some hobbits."

Facts of the Case

Once upon a time, Jane Bingham (Brooke Elliott, What Women Want) was a thin, attractive, spoiled blonde who lived a carefree, self-absorbed life. Alas, after a tragic accident and a supernatural mix-up of sorts, she was revived in the body of an overweight attorney. Over the course of three seasons, Jane has gotten pretty good at dealing with her new image and her new job, but there are plenty of other challenges for her to confront.

As the season begins, our characters are in the middle of some rather tense situations. Grayson (Jackson Hurst, The Tree of Life), Jane's boyfriend from her former life, is currently in a coma. However, just before slipping into the coma, he had hinted that he knew the secret of Jane's true identity. What will he remember when he wakes up? Meanwhile, Jane's guardian angel Fred (Ben Feldman, Mad Men) is in a relationship with Jane's best friend Stacy (April Bowlby, From Prada to Nada), while Jane's employer Jay (Josh Stamberg, Fracture) is still attempting to salvage his broken relationship with Kim (Kate Levering, Like Dandelion Dust). Also, there are important legal cases for everyone to work on.

The Evidence

For whatever mysterious reason, the powers-that-be have seen fit to assign me all three seasons of Drop Dead Diva that have been released thus far. Perhaps it's because the show shoots just a few minutes away from my home, or perhaps it's because I did some incredibly wicked things in a previous life. Either way, it hasn't exactly been the most pleasant experience. I feel as if I've been through the five stages of grief with this show: denial ("This isn't really a hit show, is it?"), anger ("This show is irritatingly terrible,"), bargaining ("If you just give me three good episodes per season, I can stomach the rest,") depression ("I'm going to have to review a season of this show every year for the duration of its run, aren't I?") and finally, at long last, acceptance. Yes, acceptance.

Watching the second season of Drop Dead Diva was a particularly grating experience; it seemed that all of the show's built-in weaknesses had been amplified considerably and a few new issues had been added. I braced myself for yet another headache with season three, but for some reason the show just didn't bug me the way it had before. To be sure, it's not as if the series has gotten any better. The show still has no idea how on earth America's legal system works, the court cases range from contrived to ridiculous, the relationship drama is overheated and silly, the supernatural element has become completely uninteresting and season two's peculiar Glee fetish continues to be indulged with the occasional presence of inexplicable musical numbers.

This show isn't for me. I can live with that. It's designed as a feel-good distraction that uses the courtroom setting as a springboard for silly yet attention-grabbing drama, and it gladly sacrifices any sense of realism for the sake of jokes and melodramatic developments (after all, this is a show in which the main character's guardian angel is dating the main character's best friend). It will never be the show I'd like it to be, but what it's doing is clearly pleasing the program's target demographic. Perhaps what makes this season slightly more tolerable than the last (aside from my frustration transforming into resignation) is that the show has officially given up on even pretending to be remotely credible. I mean, consider the court cases the show deals with this season: a woman suing her ex over a booty call gone wrong, a case centered around a deadly breast implant operation, lesbian high school kids fighting for the right to attend their prom, a man on death row attempting to donate his heart to his estranged sister—basically, you're not going to see any breaking and entering cases (unless they're about one of the main characters breaking-and-entering into the home of a famous actress and doing a crazy dance on camera, which actually is one of this season's cases).

As usual, Brooke Elliott's performance as Deb is the reason to watch the show. She's an increasingly commanding screen presence this time around, and the show finally seems to have realized that it doesn't need to go out of its way to emphasize her weight at every possible opportunity. The supporting cast remains bland and underdeveloped, though I did like the addition of Lex Medlin (Southland) as Jane's good-natured love interest. The revolving door of B-list celebrities remains a prominent part of the show, with folks like Paula Abdul (American Idol), LeAnn Rimes (Good Intentions), Helen Slater (Supergirl), and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos) popping up in guest-starring roles.

The DVD transfer is adequate if unspectacular. The cheery color palette is quite vibrant and blacks are reasonably deep, but detail is a little lacking from time to time. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track gets the job done nicely, but only kicks into gear during the occasional musical fantasy sequences. Otherwise, it's a fairly run-of-the-mill track. No supplements are included this time around.

Closing Statement

I've more or less run out of things to say about Drop Dead Diva at this point, as the series itself doesn't seem interested in evolving or growing in any significant way. Still, for those who enjoy the show as lightweight comfort food, this third season should deliver.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Acting: 75
Story: 65
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
• French
Running Time: 561 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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