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Hannah Montana on DVD: The Complete First Season | The Movie • Best of Both Worlds Concert Film • DVD Game
Livin' the Rock Star Life • Pop Star Profile • Life's What You Make It • One in a Million • Keeping it Real • Miley Says Goodbye?
That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana • Wish Gone Amiss • Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana

"Hannah Montana" Pop Star Profile 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: Michael Poryes, Gary Dontzig, Steven Peterman, Rich Correll, Barry O'Brien, Kim Friese, Heather Wordham

Directors: Roger S. Christansen, Lee Shallat Chemel, David Kendall

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

Recurring Characters: Shanica Knowles (Amber Addison), Cody Linley (Jake Ryan), Anne Marie Perez deTagle (Ashley Dewill), Jack Taylor (Dandruff Danny) / Guest Stars: Summer Bishil (Rachel), Josie Lopez (Holly), Erin Matthews (Karen Kunkle), Drew Osborne (Willis), Dolly Parton (Aunt Dolly), Garry Pease (Mike), Jason Thornton (Tom Truscott), Gwendoline Yeo (Bree Samuels)

Running Time: 92 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: June 26, 2007
Episodes originally aired between August 18, 2006 and November 3, 2006
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

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By Albert Gutierrez

Once Hilary Duff left the Mouse House, Disney sought to repeat her overnight success and in 2006,
the company began grooming young Miley Cyrus as Hilary 2.0, an unnecessary upgrade to what was already a mundane original. The result was far too similar to "Lizzie McGuire" but with one tiny and farfetched detail added in. While Miley Stewart is the less-than-popular middle school student by day, her alias Hannah Montana is a bona fide pop sensation by night. In essence, it took the best of both worlds (pun not intended) by blending real-life pop star Hilary Duff and fictional character Lizzie McGuire into a half-hour comedy known as "Hannah Montana".

I have to confess, "Hannah Montana" is something of a guilty pleasure for me. The show is incredibly inane, completely predictable, and so full of hammy acting and cheesy stories that I can't help but enjoy it. Initially I was put off by "Hannah", partly because of the aforementioned reasons, and partly because "Phil of the Future" was cancelled to make room for it. But within the year that the show has been on the air, I've grown tolerable of it and even become a fan. Not an extreme 13-year-old "OMG, like, Miley is so cool, I wanna be like her!" fan. Just one that appreciates a mindless clean-cut comedy every so often. That said, I've come to accept that most episodes end up feeling far too similar, with either Miley almost being caught as Hannah, Miley realizing the benefits of being Hannah, or Miley wishing she wasn't Hannah. I don't watch "Hannah Montana" expecting comedic genius. I watch it merely to be amused.

Miley Cyrus, daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus, plays our Hilary wannabe and aside from a few noteworthy performances, she is underwhelming as both "Hannah Montana" and Miley Stewart. It's not so much her acting or singing skills that are the problem, but the forced nature that she projects in the role. She's simply a good kid that's trapped in a poorly-written television show. Thankfully, Emily Osment's Lilly Truscott is there to prop up Miley (both the actress and the character), and she has become my favorite character. Lilly often gets stuck being the second fiddle to Miley, or exchanging a few one-liners with fellow second fiddle Oliver (Mitchel Musso). The Miley-Lilly-Oliver threesome is reminiscent of other sitcom circle of friends. I need only to point to "Lizzie McGuire", "That's So Raven", or "The Famous Jett Jackson" and the similarities are apparent: the protagonist dominates the show while the sidekicks split the duties of either the goofy follower or the voice of reason.

Lilly (Emily Osment) fawns over Jake while Miley (Miley Cyrus) looks in disgust. Jackson (Jason Earles) tries desperately to keep his dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) and teacher (guest Erin Matthews) from arguing.

If there is one thing about "Hannah Montana" that is an acquired taste, and one I haven't acquired yet, it is probably Miley's family, father Robbie Ray and big brother Jackson. Playing Pops to a young pop star isn't much of a stretch for Billy Ray Cyrus, and as the only "adult" in the cast, he pretty much is a glorified extra who gets a few more lines than a guest star. It also means he is stuck in the B-plots with onscreen son Jackson. Now this is in no way a reflection of portrayer Jason Earles, but honestly, I don't see what it is about Jackson that is worth watching. He's an oaf and a goofball and a sorry excuse for a comedic character. Forever living the life of a B-plot character, his B-plots aren't really funny. Scenarios like "Dad, I scratched the car!" and "Dad, let's outprank each other!" have been done time and again on superior shows and were just as forgettable in those as they are here and now.

Though my expectations for the series are always low (and always met), even I sometimes tire of the repetitiveness of every episode. If you've seen one pratfall or loose wig, you've seen them all. Still, you have to credit the writers for attempting to keep fresh those same tired elements. One of the ways this was achieved was the introduction of recurring character Jake Ryan (Cody Linley, Hoot). It's probably no mere coincidence that he shares the name of Michael Schoeffling's "dream boyfriend" character in Sixteen Candles. The name is about all that's shared with the John Hughes persona, however, as Linley's Jake Ryan is more Hollywood brat with a stupid catch phrase than knight in shining armor with a Fair Isle sweater vest.

Between Miley yelling at Jake, or Jake trying to please Miley, this love-hate relationship brings a refreshing change to the "Oh no, Miley was almost caught as Hannah!" stories that dominated most of the show's early episodes. And as can be expected in a Disney Channel Original Series, their "romance" is as clichιd and predictable as any other one between lovestruck sitcom teenagers. Nevertheless, the addition of Jake adds maturity and growth to Miley, even culminating in a first kiss sure to please a certain demographic. While Jake only sticks around for four episodes in the middle of the first season, he at least provides some continuity to a show that favors one-off plotlines over multi-episode story arcs. Conveniently, Jake's four episodes are also those presented in Pop Star Profile, the second DVD release devoted purely to "Hannah Montana."

Jake Ryan (Cody Linley) flashes a smile before saying his catch phrase: "Dude, I slayed you once. Don't make me slay you again!" Bree Samuels (guest Gwendoline Yeo) is confronted by Hannah Montana.

"New Kid in School" (23:39) (Originally aired August 18, 2006)
Young actor Jake Ryan decides to go to public school, and his celebrity attention makes Miley jealous. She decides to reveal her secret to reporter Bree Samuels (Gwendoline Yeo), until Jake makes known he likes her and, like her, wishes he could live a normal life.
Realizing how lucky she is, Miley then has to get rid of Bree, by pretending to be a crazy Hannah Montana impersonator, with the help of Robbie Ray posing as Billy Ray Cyrus, and Jackson channeling Elvis.

"More Than A Zombie To Me" (22:39) (Originally aired September 8, 2006)
After Miley rejects Jake's invitation to the school dance, he asks Lilly. She doesn't mind at first, until she (as Hannah Montana) guest stars on his television show as a zombie princess, where Jake tells "Hannah" how he really likes Miley. Meanwhile, Robbie Ray and Jackson attempt to outprank each other.

"Good Golly, Miss Dolly" (22:39) (Originally aired September 29, 2006)
Dolly Parton guest stars as Miley's godmother Aunt Dolly, who brings some Southern comfort by way of mango scrubs and avocado masks. She also has a camcorder to record her visit, and Miley discusses her feelings for Jake on tape. The next day, Oliver mistakenly takes the camcorder, believing it to be his, and Miley has to recover it before it's aired on the school's tribute to the departing principal. Song Alert: "If We Were A Movie", "Who Said"

"People Who Use People" (22:39) (Originally aired November 3, 2006)
At the Teen Scene Awards, Miley (as Hannah) tells Lilly (as Lola) that she'll finally tell Jake how she feels, but then sees him cozying up to his co-star actress Holly. She later meets a boy named Willis, and plans a date with him to make Jake jealous, who is actually dating Holly to make Miley jealous. Over in B-storyland, Jackson first attempts to keep his father from annoying his teacher Miss Kunkle (Erin Matthews) at a parent-teacher conference, then is excited when he finds out they went on a date.

Aunt Dolly (Dolly Parton) comes to visit her superstar goddaughter in "Good Golly, Miss Dolly." Jake and the second coolest guy in school, Oliver Oken (Mitchel Musso).

VIDEO and AUDIO

As expected, the episodes are presented in their 1.33:1 original broadcast ratio. The benefit of being a recent television show should be that its presentation on DVD be flawless. Disney must think otherwise, as the cheap digital look of the series is more apparent on DVD than it is on cable. The video is constantly less than as sharp as it should be, although it is still as bright and colorful as Hannah Montana's costumes are.

Audio is served up by a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and aside from the few-and-far-between musical performances in these episodes, concentrates more on the front speakers. The one thing that could be improved is the fake-sounding live studio audience laugh track. But I guess we should be grateful they're laughing at all.

Meet the real Miley Cyrus's family! As Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus sings and dances to "Nobody's Perfect" in the bonus concert performance. Miley Stewart transforms into Hannah Montana throughout the Main Menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and DESIGN

"The Real Miley Cyrus" (5:25) focuses on the show's lead actress and her family,
be it onscreen or off. There are comments aplenty by the cast about how close they are as a family, along with remarks by Miley's own mother and siblings. Among the issues discussed are reacting to the success of "Hannah Montana" and the jokes and pranks that go on between takes. It wraps up with the standard messages of "it's awesome that we're all friends!" and "never forget your real friends!".

"Nobody's Perfect" (3:32) is a concert performance from the second season of the show. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, it includes a brief motivational speech by Hannah Montana re-iterating the message of the song lyrics: nobody's perfect. Maybe it's just me, but the "Bone Dance" version of the song from the episode "Get Down, Study-udy-udy" was more fun to watch than this. Plus, it was educational!

The 16x9 main menu is impressively animated, with a continuous blend of episode clips and shifting camera angles. Unlike the previous release, individual episodes here actually contain chapter stops, in the same spots as commercial breaks. This proves especially useful for those who wish to skip the opening credits, except oddly for "People Who Use People", where the next chapter is a few seconds before the credits.

Previews for The Jungle Book, Underdog (totally ripping off Superman), Return to Halloweentown: Ultimate Secret Edition, and "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody": Sweet Suite Victory play as the disc loads. They are, of course, skippable, and are also accessible from the main menu. There, we can also find trailers for Meet the Robinsons, Bridge to Terabithia, Return to Never Land, High School Musical 2, High School Musical: the Concert, and Disney Movie Rewards.

The translucent disc art lacks the nice and shiny sparkles from the cover, and is housed in a white keepcase, along with an obligatory set of inserts. The main two-sided sheet offers episode selection and bonus listings, with the flipside promoting other June Disney DVDs. There is also a smaller six-sided booklet containing a Disney Movie Rewards code and ads for various Disney Channel movies and shows. Finally, there's a $6 coupon good on two select Disney Channel DVDs.

The moment every nine-year-old girl was waiting for: the Jake and Miley kiss. Normally, kids want to get out of school, but Miley and Lilly plan on breaking in.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I like "Hannah Montana." It's not the best thing on television, but it's an easy show to follow, and one that doesn't require much thinking when watching. Sadly, one of the major areas it could improve upon is the selling point for the entire series: the career and success of pop star Hannah Montana.
Miley Cyrus is growing on me as an actress (I'll admit, even her singing is improving somewhat), but like her fellow cast members, she is trapped in what is only a passably-decent show, and in a persona that is still just another marketing attempt by the Mouse House. If "Hannah Montana" had been handled as a more legitimate sitcom and not used as a base for a burgeoning singing career, it would be a stronger show.

There were 26 episodes in the first season of "Hannah Montana", only nine of which are available on three DVDs that carry a list price of $60. Granted, you can find the discs cheaper than that, but excluding the 3-series-crossover, you could be paying up to $5 an episode. Downloading these episodes for $1.99 a piece on iTunes is clearly a cheaper collecting method than the DVDs. Then again, who exactly would want to own 26 episodes of "Hannah Montana" in the first place? If you're like me and you can tolerate "Hannah Montana" in small, concentrated offerings, compilation DVDs are a better sell. This 4-episode arc isn't the series' best, but provides a better flow and narrative than the earlier DVD. In the long run, a paltry 4-episode compilation still isn't much to appease even the casual fan. But if you're up for the Jake Ryan Chronicles or just want some good "Hannah Montana" episodes to own, this disc is adequate enough.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Hannah Montana: Livin' the Rock Star Life! • That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana • Hannah Montana: Life's What You Make It
Hannah Montana: The Complete First Season • Hannah Montana: The Movie • Hannah Montana: Keeping It Real
Hannah Montana: Miley Says Goodbye? • Hannah Montana: One in a Million • Hannah Montana: DVD Game
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert • Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana • Wish Gone Amiss
Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack (CD/DVD Combo)
Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By the Hit TV Series (CD/DVD Combo)
Radio Disney Party Jams: The Concert (DVD) • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Taking Over the Tipton
High School Musical: The Concert NEW! • High School Musical (Remix Edition) • Bridge to Terabithia
Lizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1 • Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos • The Cheetah Girls 2: Cheetah-licious Edition
Disneymania in Concert • Disneymania 3 in Concert • Spring 2007 CD Roundup (including Disneymania 5)

Related Report:
High School Musical: Encore Edition DVD Launch Celebration:
interviews and pictures of Miley Cyrus and other Disney Channel stars at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood

Related Products:
Hannah Montana: GirlTalk Game by Hasbro • Hannah Montana Video Game for Nintendo DS
Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus (Soundtrack CD) • Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack (CD + DVD)
Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By the Hit TV Series (Soundtrack CD + Concert DVD)
Hannah Montana Deluxe Costume • Hannah Montana Girls Photo Screenprint Tee • Hannah Montana Peach Ruffle Dress & Denim Vest
Tooth Tunes Musical Toothbrush - Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds • Hannah Montana: Popstar Birthday Cake - Edible Sugar Art
Hannah Montana Junior Novels:
#1: Keeping Secrets • #2: Face-off • #3: Super Sneak • #4: Truth or Dare • #5: Hold on Tight • #6: Crush-Tastics
Coming Soon: #7: Nightmare on Hannah Street • #8: Seeing Green • #9: Face the Music

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Reviewed June 27, 2007.