Judge David Johnson is a rags to britches story. For so long he was walking around without pants.
From New Jersey to Beverly Hills, from the orphanage to the mansion, they went from rags to riches.
The Rolling Stone pull-quote on the back of the DVD case says it all: "…precursor to Glee." Hence, the release of this brief series about five orphan girls with majestic voices finding themselves adopted by a wealthy bachelor and sporadically launching into song-and-dance routines about their problems. You know, a hard-hitting, grounded-in-reality family drama.
Nick Foley (Joseph Bologna, Big Daddy) is a millionaire bachelor playboy who for some reason discovers by adopting five orphans his business interests will advance. So, of course he goes through with it, and lo-and-behold raising five emotionally fragile girls all on his is a lot harder than advertised. Luckily, the girls are all nice and he's got the help of his long-time butler, Clapper (Douglas Seale, Aladdin) which is his real name. Besides, these kids way too busy choreographing musical numbers to get involved with drugs and promiscuous bikers.
Actually, Rags to Riches is sort of clever and interesting, deserving more than being used as a tent-pole marking the yardage to that overblown, overrated pop-fart that is Glee. Still more or less an antiquated cultural relic, the series at least tries to pack its 40 minute episodic runtime with enough content to make you feel you're getting your money's worth. Melodrama, life lessons, angst-ridden adolescent females all joined with boisterous singing. It's laid on pretty thick, ensuring fans will be in heaven. However, if the promise of a group of girls vying for the affections of Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street) and singing about it doesn't appeal to you…you'll be in Hell.
Th series does suffer two missteps: 1) the events are supposed to take place in 1961, but the production design doesn't reflect it as the girls are outfitted in what appears to be cutting-edge '80s fashion, and 2) I understand the need to include a precocious little girl in your TV show (I believe Reagan signed an executive order mandating this), but the cutesy Heidi Zeigler (Just the Ten of Us) brings very little to the proceedings, even detracting from the dance routines with her uncoordinated lumbering.
Image's release of Rags to Riches: The Complete Series is serviceable, delivering all 21 episodes in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, with a Dolby 2.0 mono mix. There are no extras.
Rags to Riches is dated and corny, but there's a generous amount of nostalgic charm here.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
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