The Complete First Season
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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
s daily talk shows become increasingly littered with scripted jokes and countless plugs, Jon Favreau’s “Dinner for Five” provides a fresh addition to the genre that doesn’t rely on a staff of writers for its humor or free giveaways for an audience. A documentary-styled sit down that airs on IFC, “Dinner for Five” is a candid and informal dinner conversation led by host Favreau and four weekly guests in a no-holds-barred discussion of the movie business. Due to the fact that most cable subscribers don’t even get IFC unless they’ve purchased the super-duper digital package, “Dinner for Five” doesn’t have the fan base it deserves. Fortunately, the first season has finally arrived on DVD with the help of an online petition demanding its release.
The DVD release of the first season is a small and humble offering of all ten original episodes. Presented in a full frame format on two discs with a sufficient audio transfer and a couple of special features, each episode varies in length (about 30-minutes each) but never fails to entertain with plenty of hilarious moments. Showing off the finer points of the meal in a succinctly edited episode, the end result is a short powerhouse discussion of several different topics that range from behind-the-scenes drug and alcohol abuse, independent filmmaking and Tom Hanks’ dark side. Joining big screen stars like Seth Green and Vince Vaughn, veteran actors like Peter Falk and Rod Steiger, and independent film comedians like Sarah Silverman and Denis Leary, Favreau manages to create an intimate and uncensored dinner conversation about the ins and outs of Hollywood during an era controlled by nervous publicists.
The special features on the two-disc set are sparse, but they provide a surplus of quality information that you won’t find on most DVDs. The viewer can access an assortment of bonus material on the episode’s menu page like information about the cast and restaurant, as well as additional segments that were cut from the broadcasted version. The most rewarding feature available in the set can be accessed with the enhanced episode option. Every enhanced episode adds depth to each conversation with pop-up captions that help the audience understand the steady wave of name-dropping and Hollywood lingo at the table. Also found on the second disc are three amusing outtakes that were cut for time restrictions and an information page about the music composed for the opening and closing credits.
“Dinner for Five” isn’t the strongest TV-to-DVD release on the market, but it’s considerably one of the most entertaining and requested shows on television today. The first season is a great introduction to the clockwork of Hollywood and the special features that Favreau has included only complement the movie banter even more. The series may appear to be too dry or boring for some people, so you probably won’t enjoy the show unless you depend on a daily dose of movies. For all of those know-it-all movie buffs who catch up on the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly during meals and bathroom breaks, “Dinner for Five” is a blissful helping of everything you love most about the entertainment world.