A&E Home Video
Cast: Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed, Nick Tweed-Simmons, Sophie Tweed-Simmons
Extras: Bonus Episode, Featurette
I will admit freely that "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" is a complete guilty pleasure of mine. Ever since I got my hands on the first season of the show, I couldn't wait to see season 2 unfold. Here it is now from A&E Home Entertainment as a 3-disc DVD set.
Gene Simmons, as you certainly all know, is the bassist and key behind the rock phenomenon "KISS" that has scared parents for almost 35 years. Over the years, Gene has built a media empire and is virtually selling anything that allows him to put the band's name or faces on. From T-Shirts, cereal and general merchandise he even went as far as creating KISS condoms and the KISS casket. Apart from that he has a publishing empire that publishes records and books and many countless other things many of us have probably never even heard of. He is a success story in the true American Dream tradition.
If you've seen the show's first season you will feel immediately at home because the series continues on the exact same note as it had left off. The thing to remember when watching this is that most of what you see is not reality. It is all staged – and it is easy to tell – with the exception of two of the season's most provocative, amazing and revealing episodes – Gene's and Shannon's plastic surgeries.
Gene is like a big baby, really, he needs constant pampering, he needs is ego stroked all the time and unless he has someone handing everything to him he probably wouldn't even find his own laundry basket – as evidenced in season one. However when it comes to business and money, the guy's a genius – let's face it. These two very different sides of Gene are in essence what makes this show so fascinating. His family constantly makes fun of his bumbling and fumbling as a person – and much of the show centers around his kids mocking him – yet at the same time he is running all his businesses in such an efficient manner that one truly has to wonder how he does it. And let's not forget, Gene's also playing in one of the world's most recognized rock bands from time to time.
Show highlights of this season are too numerous to relate but one of my favorites was the one when his costume disappeared from a hotel room while he was getting ready for a live TV appearance with Paul Stanley. Playing up his demon image in full make-up he is intimidating the hotel manager so badly that he's running around the hotel like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to locate the missing bag. When he finally finds it, it is in the hands of some hotel employees having a blast trying it on and trying to take pictures with their cell phones.
The absolutely undisputed highlights of the season are the two episodes where Gene and Shannon undergo plastic surgery. Wow! That is some serious stuff, I can assure you. Gene and Shannon allowed the cameras to roll for the entire time while they were under the knife, and it is nor a pretty sight, let me tell you. Want to see the demon's skin pulled off his skull? Turn to the episode "Face Off" for a good look. The honesty in these two episodes is staggering. Gene, who is always very concerned about his image, gives viewers a really rare look at himself in the worst shape of his life. Not only do you see the surgery, you'll see what he's been hiding under this weird hairdo of his for all these years and why he's so obsessed with people touching his hair, just for starters. This is the one rare time where Gene truly, honestly and openly shows the world that he is 57 years old and really looks it when not in the spotlight.
What follows is the road to recovery, each in his own way. While Shannon suffered severe pains Gene quickly got back to his old self. He looks like Sammo Hung for days – and scares his kids' bottoms off as you can tell – but instead of following doctor's orders to rest for 2 weeks, Gene is determined to get back to business right away – until the bleeding starts, and from there it's literally downhill. But I'll let you see that for yourself…
And the show just keeps going on like that. Piling on hilarious moments, funny personal commentary by Gene's family on Gene's family, whacked out business ideas, babes, sperm donation and more in a constant fashion the show follows the same formula as before which makes almost every episode topical and encapsulated.
The image quality of the show is pretty good, especially considering that a lot of it is shot on the fly with handheld cameras. Colors are good and overall the show has a polished look and feel.
As extras in this season you will find a bonus episode called "It Was A Very Good Year" on the release as well as a "Lost Couch Interviews" featurette offering up some more hilarious sound bites.
"Gene Simmons Family Jewels" is even more fun in its second season and I truly hope Gene and his family will return for a third season. There a weird fascinating in watching a guy who's so successful and completely obsessed with himself yet at the same time fails on so many levels as a regular human being. The show may be staged for the most part, but it takes guts to flaunt your weaknesses in front of the world like this, knowing that everyone gets a good chuckle at your expense.