Saturday, February 14, 2009

DVD review: GRΣΣK: Chapter Two

ABC Family’s GRΣΣK (rated TV-14 for language and suggestive dialogue) is back for a second semester with this DVD release. This surprisingly good television dramedy series, focusing on the social lives of a group of college students at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University, picks up where Chapter One left off, the Cartwright siblings, popular junior Casey (Spencer Grammer) and geeky frosh Rusty (Jacob Zachar), return to campus after winter break. All the cast regulars have returned as well: Cappie (Scott Michael Foster) Casey’s ex-boyfriend and president of Rusty’s frat, Kappa Tau Delta; Evan (Jake McDorman), Casey’s ex-boyfriend and president of the WASPy Omega Chi house; Ashley (Amber Stevens), Casey’s best friend and roommate; Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria), Casey’s Zeta Beta Zeta little sister and nemesis; Cal (Paul James), Rusty’s friend who is rushing the rival Omega Chi house; and Dale (Clark Duke), Rusty’s Southern Christian roommate.

As in the first chapter, the campus’s Greek social life is the focus of the show – I don’t recall even seeing the inside of a classroom. Episode 1, “A New Normal,” shows all the characters settling back into college life in the aftermath of last semester’s break-ups and scandals. In episode 2, “The Great Cappie,” Cappie and Rebecca hide their relationship from Casey when the Zeta Betas and the Kappa Taus co-host a prohibition-themed party to boost morale.

The theme of episode 3, “Highway to the Discomfort Zone,” is acceptance, as Casey and Rebecca have to work together for a ZBZ event, Rusty feels ostracized by his KT pledge and Dale attempts to cure Cal of being gay. In “War and Peace,” episode 4, Cappie initiates some retribution against Evan’s ratting out their prohibition party to the Dean and Rusty and Cal’s friendship is strained due to the tensions between their rival houses.

Episode 5, “Freshman Daze,” is essentially a flashback episode in which we get to see how all the main characters met each other and how their early interactions have tempered their relationships now. The bonus featurette, “And So It Begins,” is a behind-the-scenes with lots of interviews about filming this episode; all the actors really enjoyed getting a glimpse into their characters’ pasts and motivations.

Episode 7 (“47 Hours and 11 Minutes”) covers Parents’ Weekend and Casey, Rusty, Rebecca and Dale all have issues. Episode 9 is “No Campus for Old Rules,” in which tensions heighten between the Greeks and the non-Greek students (this episode contains references to both Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the original Beverly Hills 90210 which I suspect the young folks will miss entirely).

Episode 10, “A Tale of Two Parties,” was my favorite: when Omega Chi throws a party to celebrate the campus restrictions being lifted from the Greek system, the uninvited Kappa Tau house throws their own shindig. “Spring Broke” (episode 12) is the finale to Chapter Two as the gang packs up and heads to Myrtle Beach for spring break.

GRΣΣK continues the character development begun in Chapter One: these kids are pretty realistic, aside from being ridiculously attractive. Casey struggles to forgive the people who’ve hurt her in the past, realizing that she has to deal with them on a daily basis – they’re not just going away. Cappie begins to mature a little from his Animal House-esque beginnings: the show’s choice as hero, he’s thoughtful and caring in his dealings with both Casey and Rebecca, supporting the former as a friend (with some unresolved feelings) and allowing the latter to let down her guard and become more human. In addition, Evan and Frannie, Casey’s ZBZ big sister - characters who would be presented as villains in other shows – are shown as conflicted, struggling with themselves to make decisions they and the people around them can live with.

There are not much by way of extras in the 3-disc DVD set: the aforementioned flashback episode featurette; a blooper reel; several commentary tracks; and the music video for “Natural Disaster,” a song by the show’s house band, The Plain White Ts.

Fluff with a heart of gold, GRΣΣK continues to improve in this second Chapter. I have high hopes for it in seasons to come.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love Greek. It's one of my favorite shows (and it's highly underrated). Cappie is one of my favorite TV characters, as well, and is played brilliantly. I'm surprised his actor doesn't get more roles, because he has great comedic timing and emotional grip.

    Season 3 (which has already been aired on TV) is a great one, too. Though the season finale had me going "WHAT?!" because it has a super cliffhanger ending.

    I can't wait for it to pick back up.