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DVD Review: Ugly Betty – The Complete First Season

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Unless you got lost in your walk-in closet for the last few months, you know that Ugly Betty is the most fashionable show on television. I will be kind to those of you who have been having fun in your own closets. This campy prime-time soap stars America Ferrera as Betty, the homely but highly capable assistant at uber-chic fashion magazine MODE. She is given the job to keep the playboy editor-in-chief from sleeping with his assistant (a problem in the past). She is great at her job and has a good rapport with her boss, but the rest of the company hates her. She is, after all, "ugly."

The show is based on a Columbian telenovella. You get those trashy soap plot lines: murder, schemes, affairs, transsexuals. But the show itself is lighthearted, a little bit tongue-in-cheek, and generally good-natured. There is a sharp contrast between the ultra-sleek, ultra-glam world of MODE magazine in Manhattan (and the people who inhabit that world) and Betty's tight-knit, slightly nutty home life in Queens. The show is hilarious, sweet, mean without being mean-spirited, and of course, incredibly stylish. The character Amanda is one of my style icons. I tell my husband if he ever wants to surprise me with clothing, buy me something Amanda would wear.

The special features on this box set are just flat-out great. You get all the standard behind-the-scenes documentaries, but each one is well produced and extremely interesting. The documentaries are high energy with interesting facts, and they got everyone from the cast and crew to go on camera. Luckily, everyone is quite engaging. Easily the most interesting documentary is the one which shows just how much of the show is shot on green screen – and of course, the documentary about the clothing! There are tons of deleted scenes (which, like most deleted scenes, you can see why many were deleted) and a bloopers reel (which is slightly more than just forgotten lines and and cases of the giggles)

The transfer is crisp and clean. The show is shot and aired in high-def, and it comes across beautifully on DVD. One of the little details I love is that the episode listing inside the case is created like a MODE magazine mock-up. The only thing that annoyed me about this set was that it is called "The Bettyfied Edition." I am not fond of the trend behind giving box sets silly names to trick consumers into thinking they are getting more than they would if the set was just called Ugly Betty. But that is a really nit-picky complaint for an otherwise outstanding box set.

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