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Case Number 08317

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Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica: The Final Season

Paramount // 2005 // 203 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // January 11th, 2006

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All Rise...

Aside from wondering where fellow Judge Patrick Bromley is, since he said HE'D review the final season, Judge Ryan Keefer thinks the final season of Newlyweds is remarkably like Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage. Of course he doesn't, but can't you appreciate some sophisticated pop culture humor?

The Charge

"It feels kinda weird being done with Newlyweds."—Jessica Simpson.

"It's a shame that such a pretty face was put on such a dumb girl."—The Honorable Mrs. Keefer.

Opening Statement

Jessica Simpson (The Dukes of Hazzard) and Nick Lachey do the world a favor in this fourth season of Newlyweds: they pull the plug on it. It's euthanasia of pop music proportions. The final season of Newlyweds was recently released on DVD, shortly after the announcement that Simpson was filing for divorce (I'm not saying anything, except what a timely coincidence). So the better question to ask when viewing the final season is, were the signs already on the wall?

Facts of the Case

Well, let's dig right in. Some of the episode titles alone kind of hint at the signs to follow. Or they're just borderline stupid. I can't decide which.

• "Newlyweds Two Year Anniversary"
Not having a child myself, you know when you ask someone who has children how old they are and they tell you they're 15 weeks, or 20 weeks, or even more than that? That's almost how I feel when someone says they're newlyweds, who have been married for two years. Granted, I understand that we're talking about how they decide to call the show, or it's papa Joe Simpson's brand slapped on the show, but still.

• "Jess Gets a Root Canal"
It's just what it sounds. Guess all the sugar and tea that's been thrown down her throat for so long is finally catching up to her. Oh well. I can't say too much about this, except I'm going down that road myself, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

• "Training Daisy"
In the midst of the craze of arming female celebrities with small dogs, Jessica Simpson joined that army. The dogs name is Daisy (she's about to film The Dukes of Hazzard, get it?), and she's a bit unruly, so a trainer is brought in to get her in line. I liked this episode the first time when I saw it on The Osbournes.

• "The Dukes of Hazzard"
While Jessica is filming the cinematic opus that is The Dukes of Hazzard, Nick and his brother Drew go to New York for Christmas. I remember when the real Cooter, Ben Jones (Primary Colors) got some publicity for objecting to the movie's portrayal of southern citizens. Then I saw a calendar over the holidays, where he's cleaning a car, wearing nothing but a hat and sponge. I don't know what this has to do with Newlyweds, other than I've got to do what I can to make you experience the same hell that I did.

• "New Year's Eve"
The kids go down to Miami and rent a house for New Year's (and presumably to watch the Bowl game as well). The house isn't as nice as they first thought, but hey, renters beware, you know?

• "The Orange Bowl"
This one was the one I was waiting for, and tuned in when it first aired, because I wanted to see the revisionist history the Simpson clan would employ for the event. Ashlee Simpson had had her Saturday Night Live lip synch controversy occur just weeks before, and now she was in Miami, performing in front of 70,000 people. The show focuses more on Jessica and Nick's thoughts on the performance (they apparently started out by saying the microphones and playback were bad) and on Nick's psychotic cheering for the USC football team than Ashlee's second train wreck performance. To their credit, the Simpsons face the grief on both shows, albeit in a sideways manner, but it's their show, and their editing staff.

• "Boys Weekend in Cabo"
Nick and some friends go down to Mexico for drinking, cars, red meat and other testosterone injected fun, while Jessica continues to shoot her movie.

• "Newlyweds Together Again"
Apparently tired of waiting around for Jessica to come home and interpret food labeling literally, Nick goes down to Louisiana to be with her during the final stages of filming the movie.

• "The Valentine's Day Budget"
The kids decide on a $20 budget for Valentine's Day gift. While in theory this is cute, it would have been nicer for them to actually take it seriously, than as a bit of a goof. Nick has yet another romantic surprise for Jessica, and while they seem sweet, with the way things are now, one has to wonder how many of them were staged for the show. If I'm being a cynical grouch, guilty as charged.

• "Newlyweds Series Finale"
Nick and Jessica decide to move (because the old house was getting too, I don't know, for them), but in the midst of moving, they stumble on a clip show, and decide to stay in the house happily ever after. Or until Nick was tired of his wife constantly in the spotlight, which inspired him to move in with star college football player Matt Leinart.

The Evidence

There isn't too much new material or wisdom that is mined from the Newlyweds show. At first (and this may still happen), I was hoping that Nick and Jessica would go through a painful ordeal, that would ultimately leave things at the Dorothy Stratten conclusion that was bound to happen, and was richly deserved. But as I watched Newlyweds, I got a deeper meaning from both people. Nick is a guy who is desperate for some marriage consummation, and occasionally presents his wife with lavish gifts in order to bring the romantic mojo back into the room. If that's not a cry for help by a protective, neglected, stalker, I don't know what is. As for Jessica, she prattles along through everyday life in a haze of shopping sprees and public appearances. All the promotion, all the "edible cosmetic" lines, all the parental exploitation in the world, has left Nick lonely and, well, neglected. So yeah, the marriage appears to be a circle of unconscious abuse by both people.

Now don't get me wrong, the couple appear to be nice enough folk. They appear at the obligatory charity appearances with smiles on their faces, and are nice to those that serve or wait on them. But I don't know how being nice despite being famous is something that a lot of people should have been watching on TV. And they seem to employ a tactic where they occasionally do day to day chores, because they're regular people, but this just isn't believable. Not having watched the entire series in a long time, I think I could count on one hand the number of times Jessica actually did SOMETHING around the house. Sure, Nick is the handyman, but that's all we see. We see Jessica go from appearance to appearance to appearance, and never spend time in the house. Perhaps that's what led to the divorce, but if I had the answer to that, I would have sold my story to People magazine long ago for a nice sum of cash.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Quick: what does my review have in common with previous reviews by Judge Patrick Bromley? Our wives both enjoy the show. If I've said anything nice about the show, it's all due to her. And besides, if these two people don't find each other attractive, then the rest of the world sucks, and we rule. She reads (and helps edit) my reviews before I submit them to my editor, and she liked this version. You should have seen the first draft of this review. Talk about dark.

Closing Statement

Like rubbernecking at a car wreck, everyone has a perverse thrill to watching the disintegration of a marriage. Newlyweds does provide that on some level, but by and large, it's a show about people younger than most of the readers of this review, who watch as these two young people engage in commerce, sing, dance, look pretty, or whatever it is that they do, when they're not on stage.

The Verdict

Newlyweds is found guilty, but is sentenced to time served, as they've thrown themselves on the mercy of the court. Farewell Nick and Jessica, you're gone, but not forgiven. Or forgotten. What's the word?

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Scales of Justice

Video: 78
Audio: 74
Extras: 22
Acting: 26
Story: 14
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 203 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Reality TV
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Behind the Scenes
• "The Good, the Bad and the Mess-Ups" Featurette
• Famous Show Moments

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