HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Exes: Season 1 and 2
HTS Overall Score:73
Ever since the end of last week your faithful reviewer has been battling a full out body flu, and what better way to spend the weekend than with a thermometer in the mouth and binging an entire two seasons of a new television show while sipping ginger ale. I’m jaded with sitcoms. I grew up with “Friends”, “Will & Grace”, “Cheers”, “Seinfeld”, all the greats, and after a while they all blend together. There’s a group of friends who seem to actually WORK about one day out of the month, and spend their time in coffee houses or bars, reminiscing on how their life stinks etc, eliciting laughs in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I still giggle and laugh at the jokes, but the formula for a sitcom has pretty much been worn out for the last several decades. Now I’m sure you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, for me to tell you that “The Exes” somehow manages to transcend that cliché and bring something new to the table. Well, not going to happen. “The Exes” follows the sitcom rulebook to a T, giving us the stereotype characters and the stereotype plotlines to boot. What makes it special is the fact that it is one of TVLand’s productions (one of the smaller TV stations) and someone is able to rival the shows put out by the big boys. “The Exes” doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but its fun and cheery amidst a storm of horrible sitcoms that you only find out about once they hit Netflix and the sea of “Reality” shows that threaten your very sanity and your faith in human kind.
“The Exes” follows a pretty obvious theme. 3 roommates, Phil (Donald Faison of “Scrubs), Haskell (famed Wayne Knight), and Stuart (David Alan Basche) as they navigate the world of being divorced. Dumped by their wives, their divorce attorney, Holly (Kristen Johnston) took pity on the misfits and sublets an extra apartment that she owns, conveniently across the hall from her own), to the guys. There they have to try and reintegrate back into the dating game after years of being out. Phil is your classic player, schmoozing a new lady each day, Haskell is played to T by Wayne Knight, kind of a blend of Norman from his “Seinfeld” days and office Don from his stint on “3rd Rock from the Sun”. Stuart is the newest addition to the bunch and he’s your classic metrosexual character, obsessed with cooking, sensitive to a fault and a do gooder dentist to boot. Along with their own issues they have to work through, there’s plenty of drama and chaos across the hall, as Holly isn’t exactly a rock herself. Battling a height challenged assistant, her own horrible love life and trying to manage the insecurities of three former clients will make anyone go crazy.
The show itself doesn’t blaze any new trails, but it’s still quite entertaining as the odd couple pairing of the player, the socially awkward nerd and the oblivious nice guy is a classic scenario for a reason. I love Kristen Johnston, ever since she came on my radar in “3rd Rock from the Sun”. A 6 foot tall Amazonian woman, she’s known for her comedic rubber face as well as an incredibly husky voice. Holly is a bull in a china shop, both at home and at work, so having the giantess herself play the character is spot on perfect. Having Kelly Stables play her height challenged assistant is visually hysterical, as Kristen is a large boned Amazon princess who wears 4 inch heels (it’s not fair, believe me, I’m married to a 6 foot tall woman who routinely wears 4-6 inch heels to social outings) and Kelly is a 4 foot 11 inch, petite elf and stark contrast is played as a gag throughout the entire show. Another “3rd Rock from the Sun” alumni, Wayne Knight (who ironically played opposite Kristen Johnston as her love interest), steals the show as Haskell Lutz, a social awkward, middle aged man with a penchant for being lazy. Wayne Knight shot to stardom playing the crazed mailman, Norman, in “Seinfeld”, and he brings a mature charm to the show that is extremely appealing. Stuart reminds me a lot of Alan Harper from “Two and a Half Men”, with his soft touch and his love of the arts. Although, I must say he is a good deal more likeable and less of a wimp than Jon Cryer does in his portrayal of Alan.
The 1st season introduces the characters and is the rougher of the two seasons, taking a little bit for the characters to find their groove and start to mesh with each other. It’s funny, it’s charming and the characters are great, but you can see the actors slowly feeling the characters out and watch them settle into the role as the episodes go on. By season two the opening song has changed and the characters have hit their groove, playing off of each other nicely, and even the writers seem to have found their groove as the stories are more mature and wittier than the previous season. The first season dealt with the terrors of getting out there in the world and nervousness of trying something new, while the second season has the characters forming new attachments, and new relationships in ways that stretch them from who they were the year before. We have the clichéd moments where the characters meet their exes and old lovers, but they are handled much quicker and more succinctly than other sitcoms have, which makes sense considering both seasons of the show cover only 22 episodes.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=32665[/img]“The Exes” comes to DVD with a fairly pleasing 1.78:1 encoded image that does a solid job replicating the source material. The image isn’t on the top tier of DVD encodes, but it still is more than capable of making a nice picture. There is some softness to the show, but the colors themselves look vibrant and full of life. Black levels are very deep and show some nice shadow detail with contrasts and skin tones looking very natural. My only real complaint with the transfer is that the softness is exacerbated by some macroblocking from the compression, especially on some of the panning shots and around faces. Had it not been for the compression related issues I might have given it a 4/5, but those obvious instances of macroblocking reared its ugly head more than a few times.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=32673[/img]I was actually surprised at the inclusion of a Dolby Digital 2.0 track instead of a standard 5.1 mix. The track itself is actually quite nice, and makes good use of its limited channel set, but I am only surprised due to the fact that most modern TV shows, even sitcoms are all coming out in 5.1 as a standard. Still, the track does its job well, persevering the dialogue’s accuracy and even handling some nice directionality and panning effects with much aplomb. There the LFE baked into the mains is good for a show that really doesn’t have much in the way of special effects besides a laugh track, and the sound of slamming doors and “boos” have a nice bite to them. We can’t exactly expect any surround usage due to the nature of the track, but the audience is nicely blended in with the stars giving us a seamless experience. Basically it’s a VERY good stereo track for a dialogue centric television show.
INTERVIEWS WITH CAST AND CREW
• Feelings on the new season
• On their Hiatus
• Celebrity Roommate wishlist
• What makes something funny
• Mark Reisman pranked by Donald Faison
• Kristen Johnston and Andy Cadiff
• Wayne Knight on Jurassic Park
• David Alan Basche
• Kelly Stables
• Wayne Knight
• Kristen Johnston
• Donald Faison
“The Exes” isn’t a show that will excite viewers for the first time, but it’s very nice to see a smaller channel put out quality entertainment on a much more limited budget. The cast works well together and every star comes from a solid past of good comedies, which definitely shows as the characters are allowed to grow and stretch per the actor’s whims. Audio and video are solid for a DVD, and while I won’t scream “GO OUT AND BUY IT NOW!!!”, it certainly is as solid outing and I recommend a viewer for certain. I had never even HEARD of the show until it showed up on my doorstep, but I can guarantee you I’ll be checking out season 3.
Starring: Donald Faison, Wayne Knight, David Alan Barsche, Kristen Johnston
Created By: Mark Reisman
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 437 Minutes
DVD Release Date: Nov 4th, 2014
Buy The Exes: Season 1 and 2 DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
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