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"Hannah Montana" One in a Million DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Creators: Michael Poryes, Rich Correll, Barry O'Brien / Executive Producers: Steven Peterman, Michael Poryes, Gary Dontzig

Writers: Andrew Green, Douglas Lieblein, Michael Poryes

Directors: Roger S. Christansen, Richard Correll

Cast: Miley Cyrus (Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana), Emily Osment (Lilly Truscott), Mitchel Musso (Oliver Oken), Jason Earles (Jackson Stewart), Moises Arias (Rico), Billy Ray Cyrus (Robby Ray Stewart)

Recurring Characters: Greg Baker (Mr. Corelli), Morgan York (Sarah), Cody Linley (Jake Ryan) / Guest Stars: Heather Locklear (Heather Truscott), Jonas Brothers (Themselves), Vicki Lawrence (Mamaw Ruthie Stewart), Dolly Parton (Aunt Dolly), Mateo Arias (Kid), Paul Ramirez (Man), Selena Gomez (Mikayla), Camryn Manheim (Mikayla's Manager), Stephen Full (Director)

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; White Keepcase
DVD Release Date: January 29, 2008
Episodes originally aired between August 17, 2007 and December 7, 2007
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Disney is infamous for milking the cash cow dry. People have come to expect this from their feature films that fuel such intimidating franchises as the Princess collection and Pirates series. It wasn't until recently, though, that Disney Channel programming began to materialize in various retail outlets. After the puzzling phenomenon of High School Musical, the second most marketed Disney Channel production is easily the two-year-old sitcom "Hannah Montana".

"Hannah Montana"'s premise is a rather loose one. Teenager Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) tries to lead a double life as both herself and as famed pop star Hannah Montana. The Hannah side is far easier for her to grasp than the Miley side, though.
When she's not touring, Miley attempts to live a normal life with her manager and father Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) and smug older brother Jackson (Jason Earles). She and her best friend Lilly (Emily Osment) get into enough mischief and hijinks to ensure that Miley's off-stage life is anything but normal.

Despite its enormous success, the show doesn't really come across as anything but ordinary. It's tolerable enough while viewing, but it immediately vaporizes afterwards. As the title character, Miley Cyrus does her best to carry the show. Unfortunately, her acting is awkwardly campy while her singing is simply generic. It's hard to fault her for the former, though, for everyone in this series overacts. With such ridiculous storylines, playing them any other way wouldn't work, but even with that in mind, there's a level of craft and nuance needed in that style. "Even Stevens," another hit Disney series, also featured over-the-top plots and characters. What dilineates it from "Hannah Montana", though, is in the care given to the comedy. Broad deliveries require a mix of charm, timing, and restraint that this series fails to comprehend. Every line of dialogue is spoken as if meant for an audience member in a balcony seat.

Lucy and Ethel, here known as Miley (Miley Cyrus) and Lilly (Emily Osment), hatch a plan to get their single parents together. Father and daughter spend some bonding time while hammering the lesson of the week into the viewer’s skull.

Speaking of audiences, "Hannah Montana" desperately pretends to be in front of a live audience, but quite obviously isn't. The edited-in laugh track is used without any sort of discretion. There are times where a character says a simple sentence that's not meant to be a punchline, and yet the laughter will suddenly go off. This makes the humor feel even more awkward than it already does and spoils the few gently amusing bits with raucous roaring. Comedy aside, the series struggles even more in the dramatic department. Usually at the end of every episode there is what's meant to be a potent scene summarizing the lesson of the week. These bits feel forced and phoned in both from a writing and acting standpoint.

All of these flaws actually don't add up to a horrible series. While there are many cringe-worthy portions, nothing about "Hannah Montana" is inherently terrible. Nothing that is, except for the character of Rico. The character, played by Moises Arias, started out as a guest in the first season and was later bumped up to a main cast member for the second. Even at their worst, no other character reaches the level of obnoxiousness that Rico does. Why the creators felt he warranted more screentime and storylines is absolutely baffling. His scenes are the only ones that are actively hard to watch.

One in a Million marks the fourth DVD compilation for "Hannah Montana." The four episodes here share no connections or overriding theme other than that they were among the last episodes debuted in 2007. All four are thankfully presented with the opening and closing credits intact, though they're played successively out of order.

The Jonas Brothers are star-struck at meeting Hannah and her songwriting manager (Billy Ray Cyrus). Posing as Mikayla, Miley accepts a phone call while filming a scene with Jake (Cody Linley), much to his chagrin.

"Lilly's Mom Has Got It Goin' On" (22:38) (Originally aired November 10, 2007)

In a plot vaguely like The Parent Trap II, Miley and Lilly plan to hook Robby Ray and Heather (Heather Locklear) together so they can be sisters. The scheme backfires, however, when the date turns out to be a disaster.

"Me and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas" (22:38) (Originally aired August 17, 2007)
Miley begins to feel jealous when Robby Ray spends most of his time collaborating with the Jonas Brothers. She tries acting like a boy to get his attention, but when this doesn't work, she goes even further, dragging Lilly with her.

"I Will Always Loathe You" (22:38) (Originally aired December 7, 2007)
When Miley is due to accept a prestigious award, her Mamaw Ruthie (Vicki Lawrence) and Aunt Dolly (Dolly Parton) both fly in. Unfortunately, the two women hate each other due to a love triangle involving Elvis Presley.

"That's What Friends Are For?" (22:38) (Originally aired July 21, 2007)
Jake (Cody Linley) makes a return, hoping he and Miley can put aside their romantic past and just be friends. This ends up becoming a challenge when he chooses Miley's rival Mikayla (Selena Gomez) to co-star with him in his new movie.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The four episodes are presented in their original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 fullscreen. Because of the series' digital video origins, image quality is rather subpar. There's a hazy gauziness to the whole thing, and every motion leaves a blurred trail behind it similar to the slow response time on some LCD televisions. Colors often come across too brightly as actors' foreheads tend to bloom. Such problems are not so much a concern with the DVD transfer as this is the result of the poor source material.

Faring better are the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks. These don't necessarily utilize all the speakers, but dialogue comes in clear enough. The musical numbers and laugh tracks add some life to the proceedings, though things usually remain centered and low-key.

"True Friend" has Hannah performing with four people who are presumably her friends for the sake of this number only. The mysteriously ageless Jason Earles hosts the top ten Disney Channel feuds while Miley occasionally offers her own comments on the entries pertaining to her. Raven struggles to remove a rubber glove that has fused itself to Alana's painted hair via chewing gum in "Run Raven Run."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and DESIGN

The few meager supplements available kick off with two music videos under the heading Music and More: "One in a Million" (3:51) and "True Friend" (3:18). Both are taken from an unspecified concert and don't offer much response, positive or otherwise.

Next comes "Come Feud with Me: The Top 10 Disney Channel Character Feuds" (11:44). Hosted by Jason Earles, clips are shown of various fights from Disney Channel shows and films. Three of the entries are uncoincidentally from three of the "Hannah Montana" episodes found here
while another feud emanates from the disc's bonus "That's So Raven" episode.

The "That's So Raven" bonus episode mentioned above is "Run Raven Run" (22:47). Originally aired November 14, 2003, this episode has Raven butting heads with clique queen Alana. When she tries to save Alana's life, Raven accidentally gets her covered in paint, and she spends the next day at school hiding to avoid a confrontation. This episode takes everything that was wrong with "Hannah Montana" and magnifies it further. Its inclusion here seems fairly random.

The 16x9 main menu is the same found on previous "Hannah Montana" DVDs, but with One in a Million's respective episodes displayed within the animated windows. All other menus are static but contain accompanying music.

The disc opens with previews for 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition, Wall-E, Minutemen, Twitches Too, High School Musical 2: Extended Edition, and Disney Movie Rewards. More trailers can be found under "Sneak Peeks" for The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Snow Buddies, "Wizards of Waverly Place", and Enchanted.

Miley and Lilly pick up a lesson or two from Mulan and cross dress in an effort to split the Jonas Brothers apart from Robby Ray. No, it doesn’t make sense in the context of the episode, either. Miley makes her acceptance speech oblivious to the fact that Dolly and Mamaw are re-enacting a WWE showdown behind her.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Despite what the theme song may claim, "Hannah Montana" does not have the best of both worlds, though it doesn't have the worst, either. It sits squarely in the middle, occasionally teetering slightly to either side depending on the material. The DVD image is messy thanks to the decision to shoot the show via digital video. Sound is decent enough for what it is, though the supplements are throwaways. This release earns a recommendation to established fans of the show as this is the best they'll get till Disney decides to release season boxed sets. Everyone else is encouraged to just skip this forced and awkward affair.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Hannah Montana: Life's What You Make It • Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profile • Hannah Montana: Livin' the Rock Star Life
Hannah Montana: Keeping It Real • Hannah Montana: Miley Says Goodbye? • Hannah Montana: The Complete First Season
Hannah Montana: The Movie • Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert • Hannah Montana DVD Game
Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana • Wish Gone Amiss • That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana • The Parent Trap II
Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus (2-CD Set) • Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack (CD/DVD Combo)
Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By the Hit TV Series (CD/DVD Combo) • High School Musical 2
Radio Disney Party Jams: The Concert
Disney Channel Holiday • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Sweet Suite Victory • Cory in the House: All-Star Edition
Return to Halloweentown • Lizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1 • Mickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina
New to DVD: Twitches Too • The Game Plan • Daddy Day Camp • The Comebacks • Lake Placid 2

Hannah Montana Fathead Wall Graphics Rock!

Related Products:
Hannah Montana Dolls and Accessories:
"Best of Both Worlds" Singing Doll • "In Concert Collection" Singing Doll • Hannah, Lily, and Oliver Set • In-Concert Pop Stage
Hannah's Backstage Closet • "Fashion Collection" with Extra Outfit #1 • "Fashion Collection" #2

Hannah Montana: Girl Talk Game by Hasbro • Hannah Montana DVD Game by Mattel
Hannah Montana Video Games: Music Jam for Nintendo DS • Spotlight World Tour for Nintendo Wii • Nintendo DS
Hannah Montana Acoustic Guitar • Hannah Montana Concert Wig
Turbo Tooth Tunes Musical Toothbrush - Hannah Montana: We Got the Party
Hannah Montana Accessories: Pocket Amp • Bed Sheets • Drapes
Hannah Montana: Awesome Adventures with Musical Microphone (board book + microphone)
Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus (piano, vocal, guitar sheet music)

Hannah Montana Junior Novels:
#1: Keeping Secrets • #2: Face-off • #3: Super Sneak • #4: Truth or Dare • #5: Hold on Tight • #6: Crush-Tastic!
#7: Nightmare on Hannah Street • #8: Seeing Green • #9: Face the Music • #10: Don't Bet on It • #11: Sweet Revenge • #12: Win or Lose
#13: True Blue • #14: On the Road • #15: Game of Hearts • #16: Wishful Thinking • #17: One of a Kind • #18: Superstar Secrets
#19: Reality Check • #20: Hit or Miss
On Tour #1: Ciao from Rome • On Tour #2: G'day, Sydney! • On Tour #3: Greetings from Brazil

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Reviewed January 28, 2008.