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Lipstick Jungle: Season One (2008)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 5/27/2008

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/26/2008

In theory, we shouldn't compare things -- everything should be judged on its own merits. Of course, this is impossible. We wouldn't know if we liked or disliked something if we didn't have something else which to compare it. This is especially true in entertainment, especially if two products have a similar story or comes from a similar source. Author Candace Bushnell made a name for herself when Sex and the City, based on her writings, took off. Now, a second television show based on a book by Bushnell has arrived. While it would be great to talk about Lipstick Jungle without mentioning Sex and the City, you know that's not going to happen.

Lipstick Jungle is set in New York City (of course), and focuses on three businesswomen. Wendy (Brooke Shields) is an executive at Parador Pictures and she oversees the production of multi-million dollar films. Nico (Kim Raver) is the editor-in-chief at Bonfire Magazine. Victory (Lindsay Price) is a fashion designer. These women have known each other for years and lean on one another for support and advice. Wendy is married to Shane (Paul Blackthorne), a former musician who isn't comfortable with his position as a stay-at-home dad. Nico has been married to college professor Charles for 17 years, and she's depressed to find that their marriage no longer has any passion. Following a particularly unsuccessful fashion show, Victory learns that her business is in jeopardy. The three women will find that they need each other more than ever as they face love affairs, new romances, inter-office betrayal, public scandal, and many, many parties.

Even if one didn't know that this show was from the creator of Sex and the City, the comparisons would be inevitable. Instead of four women, we only have three, but it's still the same combo of rich, successful and powerful women in New York City who are juggling careers and romance. The women wear stylish clothes, high-heeled shoes, and are constantly at the hottest parties. The show essentially copies Sex and the City with the portrayal of Victory's relationship with businessman Joe Bennett (Andrew McCarthy), which is nearly a mirror image of the dynamic between Carrie and Mr. Big. Joe wines and dines Victory, flying her to exotic locales on a whim, but he's reluctant to spend any time with Nico and Wendy. If you'd never seen Sex and the City, this may not have stood out, but fans of that show will find this subplot far too familiar.

Fortunately, the show also diverts from Sex and the City in many ways. First of all, Nico and Wendy are married -- it wasn't until late in Sex and the City's run that Charlotte and Miranda married...not each other...you know what I mean. Having two married characters creates a different dynamic. I really liked the stories with Wendy and Shane. Wendy's struggle to balance work and family will ring true with many viewers. The arguments which Wendy and Shane have over traditional male/female roles in the family is also interesting and is something that we rarely see on TV, where most husbands are simply portrayed as simple idiots. Sex and the City focused a lot on, well, sex, and the women were constantly comparing and bragging about their trysts. But, things are different on Lipstick Jungle. When Nico cheats on her husband, both Wendy and Victory are shocked and appalled by this. Wendy and Shane are also featured in some interesting subplots about parenting a teenager, which didn't come into play on Sex and the City.

Lipstick Jungle is one of those shows which is difficult to rate as it falls into the nebulous "good but not great" category. Again, the show is quite similar in ways to Sex and the City and fans of that show will find some of it quite familiar. In addition, many of the catty/back-stabbing plots are no different from what you would find on something like Desperate Housewives. Still, the show is well-written (each episode has at least one great line) and the episodes are well-paced. The cast is also good. I've never been a fan of Brooke Shields, but she's good here and she's able to give Wendy a human touch. (The episode where she cautions a young actress about taking on sexy roles at a young age is classic.) I'd seen Kim Raver in some things, but she really steals the show as Nico. And Andrew McCarthy plays Joe Bennett as Tom Cruise -- I don't mean that he plays the role in the way that Tom Cruise would, I mean that he's playing Tom Cruise. With it's seven-episode run, the Lipstick Jungle: Season One DVD gives us a nice sampling of the show and it's easy to get through the shows. And I have to admit, I'm considering watching it when it returns in the fall.

Lipstick Jungle: Season One is applied evenly to DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The two-disc set contains all seven episodes from the show's first season. The shows are presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, as it shows very little grain and no defects from the source material (and most of that grain is in the pilot episode). The colors look very good, which is crucial given all of the fashions displayed in the show. The image is nicely bright and video noise is kept to a minimum. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a drama, most of the audio comes from the front and center channels. We get some nice stereo effects from the street scenes. I was impressed with the amount of surround sound present with some of the party scenes, which really helped add somethign to those moments.

The Lipstick Jungle: Season One DVD contains only one extra feature. Disc 2 contains a series of DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes. The bulk of these scenes come from the "Pilot" episode. There are then one or two series from the other shows. Most of these are merely snippets from scenes which made it into the final cut. The final deleted scene, which shows Wendy meeting with her son's teacher, is the only one which feels completely new and it's interesting.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long