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Case Number 21570

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HawthoRNe: The Complete Second Season

Sony // 2011 // 425 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 16th, 2011

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All Rise...

Christina Hawthorne examined Judge Gordon Sullivan about his memory loss, but he's already forgotten.

Editor's Note

Our review of HawthoRNe: The Complete First Season, published June 16th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

"I'm Christina Hawthorne. I run this."

Opening Statement

It doesn't bode well for HawthoRNe that by the time the second season showed up at my door, I'd forgotten that I'd reviewed the first one. Certainly part of that is my fault; I've watched a lot of stuff in the past year, and anything could slip through the cracks. Still, part of that is HawthoRNe's problem: it's such a solid, low-key show that despite its strengths, nothing stands out about it. Nothing about that changes with Season Two, but fans once again get a decent DVD package.

Facts of the Case

Christina Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett Smith, Ali) is director of nursing at Richmond Trinity. At least she was last season, but budget cuts have closed her hospital, moving her and her staff to the embattled James River Hospital. Throughout these ten episodes, Hawthorne struggles with her love life, her daughter, and her career as head of nursing, dealing with a motley crew of patients who all need her care. All ten episodes are spread across three discs:

Disc One
• "No Excuses"
• "The Starting Line"
• "Road Narrows"
• "Afterglow"

Disc Two
• "The Match"
• "Final Curtain"
• "Hidden Truths"

Disc Three
• "A Mother Knows"
• "Picture Perfect"
• "No Exit"

The Evidence

Medical dramas may rival police shows these days for most popular television genre. Certainly shows like House and Grey's Anatomy are hugely popular, whether for dark humor or romance. In that context, HawthoRNe feels like a throwback. Sure, there's some office politics, romance, and family issues for Christina to deal with, but on the whole the show feels less jaded, more wholesome than many of the medical dramas on the air. Part of that is surely the fact that Christina Hawthorne is a saint, but it's also down to the fact that HawthoRNe doesn't really try to do anything new or different with the medical drama format.

In my review of the first season, I mentioned that Hawthorne seemed a bit too saintly, and that would give the writers some trouble with growing her character. Evidently I'm not cut out to be a writer, since rather than growing her character, the writers instead opted to up the ante on all the problems surrounding her this season. They closed her hospital, made her love life more complicated (a nurse/doctor romance seems like inappropriate crossing of enemy lines), and gave Hawthorne more to handle at home with her daughter. All that's in addition to the crazy patients she sees; unsurprisingly, the hospitals with budget problems are also the ones that treat patients who have the most extreme problems and no other ways of getting care. Of course, just like last season, Christina rises to the occasion, balancing all her many responsibilities (though not quite as effortlessly as last season).

jada pinkett smith and michael vartan in hawthorne

Also like last season, HawthoRNe: The Complete Second Season is a decent little DVD package. The three discs effortlessly hold the season's ten episodes. The look of the series is generally bright and crisp, which looks great on home video. They're not stunning transfers, but they serve the show well. The 5.1 surround audio tracks generally stick to the center channel, and the dialogue is well balanced with the score and sound effects. Extras start with three featurettes that cover the making of the latest season, the show's medicine, and the new cast members. Then we're treated to two spots on the photo shoots for both Hawthorne's "I Run This" and the regular cast shots.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

HawthoRNe: The Complete Second Season does very little to improve on the first season. The attempts to change up the location and spice up Christina's love life are appreciated, but they can't overcome the fact that we've seen all this before. Everyone is committed and trying to make a show that in the end seems very hopeful and with its heart in the right place, but for a drama it's incredibly light.

The extras this season also seem a little slim. The show is only ten episodes a season, so there's lots of room to add some supplemental material. Commentary tracks, especially featuring Jada Pinkett-Smith, would be a welcome addition and make this set seem like better bang for the buck.

Closing Statement

With this second season, HawthoRNe continues to plug along, offering a solid, if unremarkable, premise and a strong female lead. I'm still left wondering if the show will have any legs. It's only had enough episodes to constitute a typical season of TV, so its continued existence is definitely up in the air. For now this set should please fans of the show, and that's the most important thing.

The Verdict

HawthoRNe is still not guilty, but needs to step up its game to stay that way.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 93
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 75
Judgment: 76

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 425 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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