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Reviewed by Will Harris
he best thing about TV series being released on DVD is that it gives you a certain amount of absolution: you’re able to watch a show that you’d never in a million years make a point of catching during regular prime-time hours, but even after devouring a full-season set of a series, you still feel comfortable saying that you don’t really watch the show. I mean, if you’re not watching it when it originally airs, then it shouldn’t really count, should it?
Yes, the end of my review of “Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season” indicated that I had been sufficiently impressed with the set that I’d be setting up a TiVo season pass for the show’s sophomore year, but the competition on the other networks was ultimately far too great for me to take the plunge on a show that I’d felt guilty about watching, anyway. As such, I’d only seen whatever Season Two episodes had been provided to me for advance viewing by The CW, leaving me able to approach “Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season” in much the way that I’d come to Season One, except with a bit more forewarning about what to expect from the series.
There are those who have referred to the show’s second season as “The Blair and Chuck Show,” and, yes, Ms. Waldorf and Mr. Bass do indeed feature in a great number of the storylines this year, with their match-made-in-Hell relationship battling for time against Blair’s attempts to get into Yale and Chuck’s woes with his father. In truth, though, the wealth is spread around quite a lot. There’s the ongoing saga of whether or not Serena and Dan will ever get back together or not, a controversy over Dan’s dalliance with a teacher, Nate’s liaison with an older – and married – woman (played by Madchen Amick), and Jenny’s decision to bail out of high school in favor of a career in fashion. Although the Rufus / Lily storyline may have seemed to be over when Lily got married at the end of Season One, anyone who really believed that to be the case has clearly never watched a nighttime soap opera before, because it proceeds to be a significant focus throughout Season Two. Additionally, Wallace Shawn turns up as the man destined to be Blair’s new stepfather, and he unsurprisingly manages to steal every single scene in which he appears.
Though it remains addictive in that you-know-it’s-bad-for-you-but-you-can’t-help-yourself kind of way, the most laughable thing about “Gossip Girl” – excluding the storyline where Blair’s beau turns out to be an English Lord, that is – continues to be the fact that these kids are supposed to be in high school. It’s reached a point where their actual ages are remembered almost as an afterthought, with only the rarest of stories taking place within the confines of the school. With the majority of the characters going off to college in Season Three, one presumes that we won’t be left thinking about this issue nearly as much; similarly, perhaps Jenny – the only actual high school student of note who’s left – will actually get some age-appropriate storylines for a change. Not that I’ll be watching, you understand.
Okay, I probably will be. But not until “Gossip Girl” The Complete Third Season” is released on DVD, anyway.
Special Features: There are several unaired scenes scattered throughout the set’s first six discs, with Disc Two throwing in Jenny’s fashion music video from “There Might Be Blood,” but the majority of the bonus material is reserved for Disc Seven. Unfortunately, even that stuff isn’t much to write home about. There’s “5th Avenue Meets Gossip Girl” (an interactive map through the characters’ favorite haunts), “Gossip Girl: Faces Behind the Design” (a look into the creative forces behind the show’s art and fashion), and a series of webisodes (“Chasing Dorota”), plus the inevitable gag reel. No audio commentaries were recorded, however, which is shameful when you consider how many people are in the cast. You do get a downloadable audio book of “Gossip Girl: You Know You Love Me,” though, for what that’s worth.