While smoking in the boy's room at UNL, Judge Eric Profancik bumped into Tommy Lee. He had a chem textbook under one arm and a hot coed under the other.
The Osbournes. Bobby Brown. Anna Nicole Smith. Those are just three names out of the dozens that have had a reality television show. I like reality television, but I usually stray from the "biographical" type shows that follow the stars around. It's usually an infuriating trip of ego and insanity, overflowing with hubris and conceit. I made an exception for The Osbournes, an honestly funny look at the ultimate loving, dysfunctional family.
Tommy Lee, drummer for the rock band Mötley Crüe , was given a chance to join the ranks of "stars" with their own reality TV show. Not knowing anything about Tommy outside of his band and homemade video star status, I didn't think I'd be interested. I had the typical impression of some wild and crazy rocker, leading an insane life of debauchery. Why would I want to watch that? (Wait, am I being serious of facetious?) But then the show detailed its unique twist, and it sounded like an interesting concept.
I tuned in and really loved this miniseries/show.
Facts of the Case
So what's the twist? The title says it all: Tommy Lee goes to college. Specifically, Tommy attends classes at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL). They make sure you know that while he attended classes, he was not enrolled as a student. But Tommy did act like a student: going to classes, taking tests, partying, doing the fraternity thing, pranks, and extracurricular sports.
That's it. It's so simple, and it works wonderfully. It works because Tommy Lee, much like my preconceptions, is a really fun, cool guy that takes this escapade seriously but has a ton of fun. Watching him get in over his head in chemistry, causing trouble with newfound friends, and immersing in the college life, I found myself wistful for my college days. There's nothing more to the show than what I said. It's just a guy 25 years removed from his educational days trying to do it one last time. It's a fish out of water, but it's a fish that is finding new sources of water.
I'm not sure how much time Tommy spent at UNL, but I am guessing two to four weeks. In that time, Tommy experiences the entire gamut of college life and gives it a shake. The two highlights of his time are study sessions with his tutor, Natalie, and his attempt to make the UNL Marching Band.
Tommy apparently picked his own classes, and he decided to give chemistry a go. That's one heck of a bold choice, and Tommy was instantly lost and way over his head. His advisor, Dr. Gay, helped Tommy get a tutor from the university. And, I'm sure by television fate, Tommy's tutor was a stunningly hot, corn-fed, blonde beauty. Natalie was amazingly beautiful and amazingly smart (she graduated in the top 3% of her class). Enrolled in premed, Natalie had the dubious honor of trying to help Tommy pass his chemistry class. How well the tutoring actually worked is up for you to discover in the show, but having the chance to watch her interact with Tommy is priceless. And, it's all the better if you use your thumb to block out Tommy on your television so you can just stare and drink in Natalie's beauty. (Sorry. She's just unbelievably hot!)
As a professional drummer for decades, you might think it'd be a breeze for Tommy to walk on and get a place in the UNL Marching Band. You'd be mistaken. Tommy quickly learns that hard rockin' drumming is a totally different world from college band. We get to see him struggle to keep up with the other drummers, all the while sweating and fretting about being cut before the big game. It's a tense week of falling behind, being ostracized by the rest of the band, and struggling early in the morning and late at night to learn how to drum. Will he be allowed on the field for the big game or will he get cut? Yet another surprise for you to learn on your own.
So what's the deal with the show? Is it real, reality television or is it scripted, reality television? On the whole, it is real, reality but several events were scripted and edited to make for better television. Hence, we can sit back and enjoy the true exploits of an aging rocker trying to recapture his youth.
Tommy Lee Goes to College is a low frills DVD, but the transfers hold up well. The full frame video is nicely presented with accurate colors, solid blacks, and good detail, sharpness, and contrast. It's not the finest transfer on the block, and it feels a touch soft at times, but it's well done. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix suits the dialogue-intensive show with clean, hiss free dialogue. In the bonus materials department you don't have much, just four music video related items. First is the video for the series' theme song, "Good Times." Next is a behind-the-scenes video for that song. And then there are two more behind-the-scenes videos for "Hello, Again" and "Tryin' to be Me." What I will say is that the music video should have been in DD 5.1, and that Tommy's getting a bit soft in his older years.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Another "star" in another useless, boring reality television show. When will it end? When will they stop making this drivel, and when will people stop watching it? At least it feels like we're nearing the end of this run of cheap television, so we can all celebrate for the light at the end of the tunnel.
It's all about Tommy, and that's why his name is in the title. A simple premise with a cool guy combines to form and highly entertaining albeit short show (six half-hour episodes). Tommy Lee Goes to College ranks high in the world of reality television, and it's very much worth watching. The DVD has solid transfers yet minimal bonus material, but the show itself is worth it. I give this one a solid recommendation.
Tommy Lee Goes to College is hereby found guilty of acting like a typical college student.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
• "Good Times" Music Video
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