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"Cory in the House": All-Star Edition DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Creators: Marc Warren, Dennis Rinsler / Michael Poryes, Susan Sherman (Characters) / Executive Producers: Patty Gary-Cox, Michael Carrington, Michael Feldman / Writers: Lanny Horn, Michael Carrington, Al Sonja Schmidt, Dennis Rinsler / Directors: Eric Dean Seaton, Rondell Sheridan, Rich Correll

Cast: Kyle Massey (Cory Baxter), Jason Dolley (Newton "Newt" Livingstone III), Maiara Walsh (Meena Paroom), Madison Pettis (Sophie Martinez), John D'Aquino (President Martinez), and Rondell Sheridan (Victor Baxter)

Recurring Characters: Lisa Arch (Samantha Samuels), Amanda Tepe (Donna), George Takei (Ronald), Lori Alan (Ms. Flowers), Zolee Griggs (Tanisha)

Notable Guest Stars: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Himself), Raven-Symone (Raven Baxter), Don Stark (Prime Minister Vladimir Schuzoff), Fred Stoller (Norman Trumbles), Mary Chris Wall (Professor Bushwick)

Running Time: 90 minutes (4 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Episodes originally aired between March 2 and July 8, 2007
White Keepcase; Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)

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By Reuben Gutierrez

Disney Channel must have a tremendous faith in the characters of "That's So Raven." Not only was the show extended from the usual 65 episodes to 100, a first for one of the network's original live action series, but a spin-off was later announced to feature Raven Baxter's younger brother Cory as the star. Once "That's So Raven" ceased filming new episodes, "Cory in the House" was ready for production as the characters of Victor and Cory Baxter made their way to Washington, D.C.

Spawning from "Raven" as well as having many of the same directors, writers, and producers, it's easy to see the countless similarities between the two shows. For example, both title characters sing their show's theme song, each show transitions with brief footage of the major U.S. city setting, and both leads undergo the same tried and true physical comedy seen in countless successful sitcoms.
These aspects of "Cory in the House" should not be the only thing familiar about this sitcom. Following in the footsteps of other successes, "Cory in the House" adheres to the Disney Channel pre-teen/teenage show formula: the threesome of friends, the wise and comic adult(s), the annoying sibling(s) and the classic Disney twist (no, it's not the latest dance craze to hit the nation).

For Disney Channel shows, the life and times of a pre-teen is not enough to make into a television show. Disney Channel shows need to be bold, different and unique. In "Hannah Montana", it's the normal teen/pop star double life, while the futuristic Diffys of "Phil of the Future" were conveniently stuck in our present day. "That's So Raven" showcased Raven's psychic abilities, and for "Cory in the House" the majority of the show takes place in the home of one of the most important people in the USA: The White House (hence the title). One can easily label this aspect a commonplace gimmick inherent to Disney Channel show premises, but others may find it necessary. With the Baxter father and son already developed through four seasons of "Raven", this setting is needed for the spin-off series to successfully tread anywhere new on its own. After all, with Raven herself gone, why else would we stick around with the family she's leaving behind?

The title logo for "Cory in the House" (a.k.a. Cory, Cory, Cory in the Hoooouuussseeee!) employs a predictable blend of red, white, and blue. The President (John D'Aquino) tests his Action Hero phrases on Cory (Kyle Massey) for when The Rock arrives.

Apparently, Victor Baxter (Rondell Sheridan) has become personal chef for the newly-elected President Richard Martinez (John D'Aquino) and in turn, must leave the West Coast and head to the nation's capital. Since Raven is off at fashion design school and wife Tanya is still "at law school in England",
Cory (Kyle Massey) is the only one who joins his father to live in the White House. Though their home and environment has changed, Cory and Victor are still the same characters we've gotten to know. Victor is still the wise but fun-loving parent and chef who gets his share of laughs. Cory is forever a scheming young business man and he finds many opportunities in his new home. As a lead character, Cory finds his schemes getting him into more trouble than they did back in San Francisco.

Once the Baxters are settled in D.C., they meet an interesting crew of characters. Cory finds his new best friends in Meena Paroom (Maiara Walsh), the daughter of the ambassador from the fictional country of Bahavia, and Newton "Newt" Livingstone III (Jason Dolley), the son of the Chief of Justice and a senator. Don't let his name and parents' positions fool you; Newt has the unfortunate circumstance of being the "Chelsea Daniels" of "Cory in the House." While Chelsea's stupidity was occasionally annoying (for which I blame the writers and not the actress), Newt's portrayal of the "dumb one" actually comes off as both humorous and befitting the character. Whereas Chelsea suddenly changed from smart and practical to an unfunny and unlikable ditz, Newt is established as simple-minded from the get-go and lends himself to more cleverly written jokes. In the role, Jason Dolley delivers a great performance, keeping the rock and roll-loving Newt real and believable. Maiara Walsh and the show writers also do a good job in portraying Meena. Her accent loudly announces her status as a European abroad, but the character is present enough to be more than a pretty, proud foreign exchange student. While she references the culture and doings of her home country, it's not excessive, instead proving an alternate viewpoint when the situation calls for it. While Walsh usually pulls off the generic foreign accent well, she sometimes drops it briefly mid-sentence.

In the White House, Sophie (Madison Pettis) takes the role of annoying, but lovable younger person; she is to Cory what Cory was to Raven. The adorable Madison Pettis and her honest portrayal of the First Kid and "America's Angel" makes her character one of the show's most likable. She does well in showing Sophie's sincere -- and at times deceptive -- sweet disposition. Her father, the President of the United States, is a proud family man, though viewers may wonder if he's ever really running the country. The writers are careful to place him in many situations where one does not see him taking a firm hand in making important government decisions. He is often seen as the main representative of the US or just as a very important person. John D'Aquino plays the role to the right degree of smugness and does not overdo it. He's the President when government things must be done, but more importantly a father when his daughter needs him.

The Rock (Himself) is jealous that the attentions of Sophie (Madison Pettis) remain on Professor Cuddles. Raven (Raven-Symoné) is amazed by the White House tour that she and Cory have blended into.

The show's plots and storylines are virtually identical to those of "That's So Raven": the main characters get into trouble, try to get out of trouble, and end up learning something by the end of the episode. Of course, wild and wacky schemes and outcomes (that never seem to be limited by any realistic teenage financial constraints) are as present here as they were in the predecessor. Many may grow tired of such familiar comedy, but the writers manage to keep the basic plots fresh and funny thanks to the White House twist.

Just six months since debuting on the air, "Cory in the House" makes its way to DVD in a 4-episode collection subtitled All-Star Edition.

"Never The Dwayne Shall Meet" (22:30) (Not yet aired)
The White House staff is preparing for the arrival of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who has been appointed the president's official fitness advisor. Defying explicit instructions to act normal around the wrestler-turned-movie-star, everyone naturally fails at hiding their excitement over the guest. While others are starstruck, Cory plans to involve The Rock in one of his crazy money-making schemes. Meanwhile, busy schedules hinder Sophie's efforts to round up guests for a tea party.

"That's So In The House" (22:31) (Originally aired July 8, 2007)
Seeking to update the simple, traditional design of White House tour guide uniforms, President Martinez asks Cory and Victor for their opinions. One name instantly comes to both Baxters' minds, but before they can even arrange for her arrival, sister/daughter Raven (Raven-Symoné) shows up, ready to serve her country one uniform at a time. While settling into her family's new home, Raven gets a vision of the president in danger. To prevent this pickle, she and Cory hatch another crazy scheme, complete with crazy costumes (of course).

Chef Victor and Miss Samuels can’t believe they saved 15% on car insurance by switching to Geico. Cory and company do a happy dance before they begin baking Nakishkas.

"Air Force One Too Many" (22:34) (Originally aired June 30, 2007)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Schuzoff (Don Stark) visits the White House

Posters, photos, and other items from thousands
of celebrities, bands, movies and TV shows
to discuss plans for a new friendship council. A misunderstanding leads the Prime Minister to believe that Russia will be reclaiming the deed to Alaska. Through a series of bizarre incidents, Cory accidentally manages to give the 49th state back to the Russians and finds himself aboard Air Force One when trying to fix his mistake.

"Just Desserts" (22:32) (Originally aired March 2, 2007)
In the absence of the President and First Lady, Miss Samuels hopes that the Presidential Medal Banquet she's overseeing runs smoothly. After she instructs Victor to revise the night's menu for more "peaceful" food, Cory suggests the Nakishka, a lemon cream puff dessert from Meena's home country that's both delicious and calm. Instead of purchasing from Bahavia as stated, Cory and friends make the pastries themselves. Naturally, the plan will backfire and produce explosive results. In the midst of this chaos, Sophie wants to learn to ride a bicycle.


The episodes and bonus features are presented in 1.33:1 full screen as seen on television. The video quality of the episodes and bonus features are the same crisp and clear picture one finds when watching the show on cable television. There aren't any noticeable flaws in the picture, though the keen eye can detect some film grain during some of the establishing Washington D.C. footage.

As with the other Disney Channel TV show DVD releases, the audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 with no noticeable surround sound tweaks for the DVD. Like most other Disney Channel sitcoms in production, this one boasts a fake-sounding "live studio" audience laugh track. That's somewhat ironic since it's apparent in at least Raven's episode that there really is an actual live audience.

Raven-Symone and Kyle Massey reminisce about being on screen siblings in "Raven in the House." The Rock loves children in "Rock in the House." Who ever thought the President of the United States would grace an anamorphic DVD main menu?


Two short featurettes can be found in the Bonus Features.
"Raven in the House" (4:23) takes viewers behind the scenes of the "That's So in the House" episode with guest star Raven-Symoné reprising her role as Raven Baxter. She shares her thoughts on returning to TV after a break. She and Kyle Massey also discuss the episode's plot and what it's like to play brother and sister for so long.

"Rock in the House" (2:32) predominantly features clips of actors on the set when cameras aren't rolling. We hear most from Madison Pettis, as she tells viewers of the fun she's had with The Rock on this episode and Disney's upcoming comedy The Game Plan. Maiara Walsh (sans accent!) and Massey also briefly comment on working with the guest star. Oddly, The Rock himself doesn't appear, rendering the back cover's boast of "exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with...The Rock" a boldfaced lie.

Providing all the standard options, the Main Menu features an animated loop of characters flying in and out against a star-filled background, with patriotically-colored starbursts and the theme song playing. Submenus offer static but similar backgrounds with an instrumental version of the theme tune.

The easily-skipped Sneak Peeks that launch the disc look at The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition, Meet the Robinsons, Return to Halloweentown: Ultimate Secret Edition, and "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody": Sweet Suite Victory. From the dedicated menu, we can find more trailers for "Hannah Montana": Pop Star Profile, "High School Musical: The Concert": Extreme Access Pass, Disney Movie Rewards, a general Blu-ray promo, and all the start-up trailers.

Attached to the shrinkwrap is a coupon to save $6 when buying "Cory" alongside the new "Suite Life" compilation or a handful of other Disney Channel DVDs. As noted on another sticker, one finds a High School Musical 2 locker poster inside the case, which advertises an Extended Edition that's in the works for both DVD and Blu-ray. Other inserts include an episode list and extras overview, a Disney Movie Rewards magic code, and more ads for the High School Musical franchise (What's next? HSM sock puppets?) including a look at the soon-to-air sequel's tentative DVD cover art. One would think the studio would take a chance to mention media more connected to the stars of "Cory in the House", but one would be wrong.

Not only is Air Force One equipped with luxury seating and a full kitchen, but most importantly "Step Step Party Tek," which is obviously used to bond with world leaders such as Prime Minister Schukoff. Meena (Maiara Walsh) models Raven's new design for the tour guide uniforms while "Raven" explains them. The gardener in the background looks a tad familiar...


As the end of "That's So Raven" was not accepted as begrudgingly as the end of "Phil of the Future" for this reviewer, naturally "Cory in the House" hadn't been atop of my Disney Channel viewing priorities. It wasn't until this summer that I got a chance to watch the show. I was pleasantly surprised to find that "Cory" manages to keep up the same physical comedy and offbeat humor of its predecessor, in a different and more comedy-conducive setting. Disney Channel naysayers understandably won't find the series worth watching, but for "That's So Raven" fans and those looking for a quick laugh, "Cory in the House" is great.

The DVD offers four entertaining episodes and a couple of skimpy but fun bonuses. I only recommend the disc for dedicated fans, but if you're a Disney Channel enthusiast, you may as well pick this up with another DVD to save $6 and get that exciting "High School Musical 2" locker poster!

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Reviewed August 3, 2007.