It is generally hard for me to get excited about a network TV show, but once in a while a show comes by that I may stumble upon and that I find entertaining enough to actually remember enough to occasionally follow during its broadcast, or to look forward to its home video release. One such show of last year was "The Neighbors," which has now arrived on DVD thanks to abc Networks. I first caught an episode of the show by accident some time ago and found it so funny that I decided to give it a closer look as soon as the DVD version landed on my desk.
Earth has experienced a secret invasion of aliens, who crash landed on the planet and are now hiding in plain sight. The group consisting of 30-some individuals have purchased an entire, newly developed neighborhood in the suburbs of New Jersey and keep to themselves in order to avoid detection.
All that changes, when the Weavers move into their neighborhood, as one of the houses vacates. A family of five, the Weavers are an average middle class family who quickly realize that their neighbors are a little odd. Not only do they all sport names of famous sports icons and olympians of the ages (Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus are just some of the highlights), but their behavior also gives "weird" a totally new meaning.
Naturally, before long they find out that their neighbors are aliens and as they try to overcome their surprise and fears of abduction, they actually begin to take pleasure in meeting these otherworldly visitors and introduce them into life on Earth. Teaching them human ethics, human emotions, social structure, behavior and mannerisms quickly turns into a 24/7 job for them and no matter how well the aliens mean, there's always something somewhere that goes wrong.
One thing the show does so well is that it examines our social and commercial values through unbiased eyes. Naturally, with their ignorance and unfamiliarity with everything we hold dear, the aliens are the perfect medium to drive this vehicle. As the Weavers try to explain certain values and traditions, the absurdity of what we do and who we are - or perhaps think we are - becomes excruciatingly clear in all of its hilarity. It really makes you wonder why we allow the media, peer pressure and other social pressures to really get the better of us and shape almost entirely how we interact with each other and our environment.
"So, you blow off your friends to spend time with people you don't like, because you want to impress these people, even though you don't like them," is only one of the - liberally quoted - examples that you will encounter during the course of this show. The list of "What the Heck" moments is endless and every episode of the show centers around one such core idea. Whether it is the perceived importance of high school popularity, the supposed value of sports competitions, the Christmas spirit, driving cars and so on, every episode is brimming with unique angles on our everyday lives that will make you laugh out loud.
The show features a great cast, featuring Jamie Gertz and Lennie Venito as the adult Weavers and Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye as the leaders of the aliens. And while the "humans" are fun characters, it is truly the aliens that steal the show - Toks Olagundoye in particular, as she has a true knack for nailing people's mannerisms and dialects in a way that will have you keel over.
Sporting a clean transfer in anamorphic widescreen, the 3-disc DVD set contains all episodes from the show's first season. the image is offering up rich colors and good details, all wrapped up nicely with solid black levels that give the image visual depth.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track complements the video, giving you a nice surround experience that may not be overly aggressive but works very nicely within its own parameters.
As extras, the release also contains a Gag Reel and some Deleted Scenes.
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Neighbors" on this release and I will continue to keep my eyes open for this show on television. I can't wait for all the other antics the writers and producers have in petto for this hilarious cast of characters.