So NoTORIous: The Complete Series review, So Notorious DVD review

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Buy your copy from So NoTORIous: The Complete Series (2006) starstarstarhalf starno star Starring: Tori Spelling, Zachary Quinto, James Carpinello, Loni Anderson, Brennan Hesser, Cleo King, Jeanetta Arnette, Mimi La Rue
Director: Various
Category: Comedy
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There’s considerably more to “So NoTORIous” than Tori Spelling playing herself, although you’d be well within your rights to bail out of watching this show based solely on that information.

Spelling’s gotten trashed throughout her acting career as a daddy’s girl who got her gig on “Beverly Hills 90210” just because her father was the show’s producer, and, well, there’s probably at least some truth to that suspicion. When she moved from that show to a life in TV movie hell, it didn’t exactly do her reputation any favors. With “So NoTORIous,” however, Spelling gets the opportunity to mock herself mercilessly, and the end result is much funnier than you’d expect.

While Spelling plays herself, she’s definitely playing a fictional version, one that’s decidedly exaggerated, even though more than a few elements remain at least semi-accurate. She’s still very much a spoiled daddy’s girl; although she tries to make it without dropping his name when she goes on auditions, she still visits him regularly…although he never appears onscreen. Instead, you only hear his voice through an intercom…and, appropriately, he only ever refers to his daughter as “Angel.” Spelling’s mom, KiKi, does appear, however, except she’s played by Loni Anderson, who’s perfect in the role, playing the clueless rich bitch to perfection. It’s indicated throughout the series that KiKi had very little hand in raising Tori. That task fell to the family housekeeper, Nanny; in one episode, we get a hilarious flashback scene showing Tori hanging out with Nanny. Well, actually, the flashback isn’t nearly as funny as the fact that it’s scored to the theme from “Sanford & Son.”

Spelling generally hangs with her two best friends: Janey the real estate agent (Brennan Hesser), and Sasan the openly-gay Persian-American (Zachary Quinto). It’s a little bizarre to see Quinto acting like such a flagrant queen, given that he’s currently playing the evil Sylar on NBC’s “Heroes,” but he definitely scores the majority of the funny/bitchy lines here. Janey doesn’t really develop as well as a character, except for her apparent preference to take easy sex over a proper relationship. Spelling also lives in an apartment with a roommate, Pete, who’s pretty notorious in his own right…for bringing over slutty girls and not necessarily encouraging them to leave. There’s a cringe-inducing episode – “Accomodating” – where it’s indicating that Pete’s new whore of a girlfriend has used both a remote control and a Donna Martin doll for rather illicit purposes.

As you can tell, “So NoTORIous” isn’t afraid to get slightly lowbrow in its humor, but most of the jokes come via Spelling making fun of her reputation and, yes, her inability to get decent acting roles. One episode involves her quest to get cast as a prostitute in a Stephen Soderbergh film; it ends in tears, however, when she gets the part, only to find out that her often-incompetent agent, Ruthie Rose, misheard the director’s name. (Soderbergh, however, is given Spelling’s excruciating audition tape as a birthday present by his assistants.) A regular gag on the show is for Tori to slip into flashbacks when someone asks, “Why would you do that?” Tori looks into space and we see a flashback which clearly answers the question by illustrating some painful childhood or teenage memory, but at its conclusion, Tori’s invariable response to the question is a shrug of the shoulders, followed by, “I dunno.”

There are a few guest stars…Farrah Fawcett and Whoopi Goldberg are the two most notable…but the show’s all about Tori. Few actresses are so willing to laugh at themselves. The temptation is to call “So NoTORIous” a guilty pleasure, but, in truth, there’s not anything guilty about it; it’s legitimately funny.

Special Features: VH-1 tends to trick out its sets with special features, and “So NoTORIous” is no exception. In addition to several commentaries by Spelling, Chris Alberghini, and Mike Chessler, there are also deleted scenes, outtakes, cast interviews (done by Aamer, of VH-1’s “Bands Reunited” fame), and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

~Will Harris