A&E Home Video
Cast: Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed, Nick Tweed-Simmons, Sophie Tweed-Simmons
Gene, Shannon, Sophie and Nick are back for more of their "daily routine" antics in front of the camera. As you undoubtedly know by now, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" is a guilty pleasure of mine as I have been fascinated with Gene's persona and business savvy since 1976 when I encountered my first KISS album.
It may just be me, but in this third season I get the sense that Gene is getting older and he feels it. I am not talking about an old dude in terms of a geezer, but in terms that I sense his priorities and sensibilities seem to be changing a bit. For one, he seems to be home more and not spend his entire life on the road chasing from one concert to the next and from one business meeting to the other. He seems to have found some balance that allows him to spend more quality time with his family and appreciate the people they have all grown into. I think the episode that Shannon directed in which the family watches home movies and relives many of the events of Nick and Sophie growing up, is a prime example. This episode would have been unfathomable in Season 1 of Family Jewels of Season 2. and here we have Gene sitting through hours worth of birthday videos, celebrations, stage plays, and general family memories without complaining once. What's even more, he seems to feel fuzzy and even gets emotional. I think this episode also stands out for viewers because it speaks to every parent out there. It is simply amazing how fast our children grow up. It is by the way also the first season where you see Gene smiling a lot and more importantly, there are a number of occasions where we see him laughing out loud wholeheartedly – something that is very untypical for the Demon who usually tries to portray himself as in charge of all his emotions.
But there are other gems here as well, mingled with episodes that are maybe not so hot, but hey, overall, watching the Simmons/Tweed family is still a riot. Keeping with the highly episodic nature of the show, which means every episode has a topic and an overarching plot line, viewers will visit many facts of Gene's life. From preparing for a Las Vegas Big Band show and pulling it off admirably, to trying to find a capable personal assistant, all the way to tracking down their lost family dog, doing household chores and Shannon accidentally destroying precious KISS artifacts only to hunt replacements down on eBay, this season has a lot of exciting stuff. It also features noticeably more KISS than previous episodes, covering Paul Stanley's heart episode and KISS' three-piece concert as a result of it, only to be followed by Gene's own heart rhythm problems. We meet fellow band mate Tommy Thayer again on various occasions who seems to enjoy quite a close relationship with Gene, as he always seems to be the go-to guy for the Demon when he needs outside help.
The cornerstone of this season, of course, is Gene taking the lie detector test. He's been bragging about the 4700 women he's had sex with for years now and it was time to put him to the test. On a local radio show in LA he agreed to take a lie detector test on the subject, but he also agreed to answer the question Shannon was burning to know, if he has been faithful to her since they met. If you have not seen the episode, that one alone is worth picking up the Season 3 DVD set.
While I am fascinated with "Family Jewels" the strange thing is I can only take so much of it at a time and I have to watch the season in stages. It's been like that with all seasons for some reason. It may have something to do with the fact that watching Gene turn literally anything into money can become a bit… boring… but after a few days of distance I find that I am usually ready for some more.
In terms of the presentation quality, "Family Jewels" is every bit as solid as you'd expect. Offering a nice widescreen transfer of the show that is solid and without problems or defects, you quickly forget that you're actually watching a show that's being produced using highly portable video and audio equipment. It is one of the blessings of technology, I suppose, that you can get truly high end, stable video out of a small handheld camera these days which allows you to shoot in places that would have been virtually impossible to cover before while maintaining decent image quality.
As before, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" is a great release. Just when you thought last season's events could not be topped, Gene and his family give the show a bit of a new spin, making sure to intrigue and keep us interested in what they've been up to. Whether it is scripted or not – which it obviously is – is irrelevant, because we feel connected to them nonetheless and take an interest in what they're going through even though most of us can barely relate to the kind of issues that plague the Simmons/Tweed household. Not everyone can go out, buy a nail salon and fire the staff, just because they treated us like crap. Gene can, and he does it "in the nicest of ways" as he says himself. Well, what can you say? He is one of a kind.