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Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season (2008-2009)

ABC Studios
DVD Released: 9/22/2009

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/21/2009

In my recent review for The Big Bang Theory, I brought up the question of how do TV shows get feedback? When a show airs, how do the producers know exactly what the audience likes and dislikes? Today, they could simply read reviews, blogs, or any number of chat forums, but how did they get that info in the past? Focus groups? Fan mail? It's obvious that public opinion is getting back to them in some way, because shows often adjust, such as making a smaller character more prominent due to popularity. However, they get the info, the powers-that-be at Ugly Betty must have gotten the message, because some of the problems in Season 2 were corrected for Season 3, which is now on DVD.

Season 3 of Ugly Betty picks up following the conclusion of Season 2. Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), the frumpy girl from Queens who works for a high-powered fashion magazine, was given a choice. Would she go away with Henry (Christopher Gorham) or Gio (Freddy Rodriguez)? In the end, Betty chose neither and went on a trip by herself. As Season 3 opens, Betty returns home re-energized and ready to tackle her career. She's determined to assert herself at Mode and gain her independence. Meanwhile, at Mode, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) has taken over and changed the feel of the office. Betty's boss, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) has gone to another magazine in the company. At home, Betty's father (Tony Plana) has gotten a job at a fast-food restaurant, while her sister, Hilda (Ana Ortiz), is still looking for love. These ideas lay the groundwork for a season where the characters will go through many changes. Daniel does find his way back to Mode, and he also finds love in the most unexpected of places. Betty enters a program for young people who want to get ahead in the magazine industry. Betty's father faces health problems. Despite the fact that she doesn't want a relationship to get in the way of her newfound determination, Betty meets someone special. And through it all, Wilhelmina continues to look for ways to rule Mode.

When Ugly Betty premiered in 2006, we were presented with a show which had three distinct personalities. First, the show was sort of a goofy comedy. Secondly, it had a truly dramatic side. Third, as it was based on a Mexican soap opera, the show was full of overly dramatic and often silly plot twists and turns. The story of a simple girl who finds herself in over her head in the world of high fashion was certainly a multi-faceted one. But, despite all of the hulabaloo, the most intriguing part of the story was the culture clash between Betty and Daniel. On the one hand, we have a poor girl who has had to work for everything in her life and asks only for respect. On the other, you have a spoiled little rich boy who was handed his job, and spends more time bedding models than working. The way in which their relationship and reliance on one another grew was the center of the show.

But, Season 2 got away from this aspect of the show. Betty was off doing her thing, and Daniel was facing problems of his own and they had too few scenes together. Sure, the show was still entertaining, but it lost a lot of its emotional core. That changes in Season 3. The show has once again returned to its roots, where the emphasis is placed relationships. Daniel and Betty come back to Mode at the same time and once again come to rely on one another. Their scenes together are always a nice combination of humor and tenderness. Betty's relationships within the office also evolve. Since the beginning, Betty has been a scapegoat to Mark (Michael Urie) and Amanda (Becki Newton). However, this changes in Season 3, as Betty and Mark find themselves working together in the Y.E.T.I. and Mark actually finds himself softening towards Betty. Meanwhile, Amanda lands in a situation where she needs Betty's help. While they are still mean to her at times, this change really helpsto advance the show.

Despite the fact that Ugly Betty gets a bit redundant at times -- What's that? Wilhelmina is scheming again? -- the show is still a quality product. While it seems unrealistic that Betty wouldn't have gained an iota of style by now, the fact that she's retained her individuality while growing as a person makes her unique. The show is still able to deliver a healthy mixture of laughs and drama, so it's a shame that ABC is putting it out to pasture on Friday nights.

Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season wears a poncho on DVD courtesy of ABC Studios (which is part of Disney). The six-disc boxed-set contains all 24 episodes from the show's third season. The shows have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. One of the most notable aspects of Ugly Betty is that it's a very colorful show, and the colors look great here, most notably strong reds, oranges, and blues. The image shows a hint of edge enhancement, but most viewers won't notice it. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, showing nice separation at times. There are moments where the surround sound effects are quite effective, especially during crowd scenes. We do get some bass effects from the in-show music.

The Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season DVD set contains several extras. Disc 1 contains six episodes of "Mode After Hours" (20 minutes), which show Mark and Amanda goofing around when everyone else has gone home, as well as three DELETED SCENES. Disc 2 offers an AUDIO COMMENTARY for the episode "Crush'd" with Executive Producers/Writers Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally and Co-Executive Producer/Director Victor Nelli Jr., along with five DELETED SCENES. There is on DELETED SCENE on Disc 3, while Disc 4 has two. The episode "The Sex Issue" gets an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Michael Urie and Becki New on Disc 5. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 6. "Coming Home to New York City" (13 minutes) is a featurette which is narrated by America Ferrera. It explores how the show, which was shot in Los Angeles for two seasons, moved production to New York for Season 3. Cast and crew members comment on what it was like to make such a drastic move. "Mode After Hours" is two shorts, "I Spy" (3 minutes) and "Prank Calls" (4 minutes). The DVD contains ten DELETED SCENES, which come from various episodes. "Betty Bloops" is a 9-minute gag reel.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long