Undeclared: The Complete Series

Undeclared: The Complete Series (2001)
Shout! Factory
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Carla Gallo, Charlie Hunnam, Monica Keena, Seth Rogen, Loudon Wainwright
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Bloopers

Ah, the stresses of college life; girls, losing ones virginity, studying (yeah right), parties, pimples and oh yeah, parties! Life for Steve Karp (Jay Baruchel) seems pretty good, attending college and attempting to establish his own identity and meet new friends, like typical freshman roommate Lloyd (Charlie Hunnam) in the series "Undeclared." Not that entering college had its own share of new challenges; Steve must also deal with the bombshell that his father drops on him during his first semester at school that his parents have decided to divorce. "Undeclared" tells the tale of a group of young adults and the ups and downs they face during their college years, but unlike similar-style stories from this genre, I found this series to be well written with a good dose of heart and the occasional mix of added humor that truly delivers.

Shout! Factory presents the complete series of "Undeclared" in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Colors are nicely saturated throughout, with deep and defined blacks, sometimes appearing a little too dark, but still managing to keep the detail in check throughout the presentation. Flesh tones are well rendered and are always natural in appearance. There were some compression artifacts visible throughout the entire set, in the form of grain or "noise", but is generally quite minimal and the overall transfer of each episode will still succeed in visually pleasing the eye.

This 4 disc set comes complete with a Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix and to my surprise, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I was rather impressed with the offering of a 5.1 mix for this type of presentation on DVD, considering that this is mostly a teen drama, I found myself treated to a nicely presented soundstage offered by the 5.1 mix. Dialogue was natural in reproduction, which managed to incorporate well with the provided soundtrack. There was good use of all available channels accommodating this well balanced soundstage. I was also quite pleased with the use of the .1 low frequency channel that was nicely utilized throughout the show's various segments of music, which fueled the soundtrack at just the right moments.

After airing only 16 episodes, NBC pulled the plug on this series, leaving fans rather disappointed that the show didn't garner the support it deserved; unfortunately that is the realities of network broadcasting. Even the odd guest appearance, from the likes of Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller wasn't enough to keep this well made adolescent drama on the air. At least fans can now rejoice with the DVD release of "Undeclared", complete with one un-aired episode and loaded with a ton of extras that is sure to impress.

Complimenting this set is the inclusion of 18 separate audio commentaries from directors, writers and cast, deleted scenes, bloopers, audition footage, rehearsals, behind-the-scenes featurettes and table readings, there is more than enough special features to keep anyone happy, especially the die-hard fans of the show. Rounding out the added value material is live concert footage from Loudon Wainwright and a Museum of Television & Radio Q&A with cast and crew.