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"Survivor's Remorse": The Complete First Season DVD Review

Survivor's Remorse: The Complete First Season DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Survivor's Remorse: Season One (2014)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Mike O'Malley / Executive Producers: Tom Werner, Maverick Carter, LeBron James, Mike O'Malley, Paul Wachter, Victor Levin

Writers: Mike O'Malley, Sascha Penn, Cord Jefferson, Raphael Jackson, Jr., Damione Macedon, Jerome Hairston, Tracy Oliver, Victor Levin

Directors: Ken Whittingham, Peter Segal, Bradley Buecker, Mike Mariano, Victor Levin

Regular Cast: RonReaco Lee (Reggie Vaughn), Jessie T. Usher (Cam Calloway), Erica Ash (Mary Charles "M-Chuck" Calloway), Teyonah Paris (Missy Vaughn), Tichina Arnold (Cassie Calloway), Mike Epps (Uncle Julius)

Recurring Characters: Chris Bauer (Jimmy Flaherty), Cynthia McWilliams (Eva Robles) / Notable Guest Stars: Mo McRae (Marcus Pierce), Jack Ryan (Himself), Bob Edwards (Himself), Kerry O'Malley (Savannah Couronis), Jacob Latimore (Johnny Miller), Dawnn Lewis (Vanessa Miller), Ernie Johnson (Himself), Scott Benjaminson (Nick Stathis), Javon Johnson (Pastor), Romeo Miller (Jay Holbrook), Jill Jane Clements (Delia Calloway), Robert Wu (Da Chen Bao), Nafessa Williams (Adina Parker)

Running Time: 166 Minutes (6 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-MA on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned / Extra Not Subtitled
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98 / DVD Release Date: June 16, 2015 (general retail), December 16, 2014 (Walmart exclusive)
Season 1 Air Dates: October 4 - November 8, 2014
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (DVD-5s) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Survivor's Remorse: Season One from Amazon.com: DVD • Instant Video

If "Entourage" was about a professional basketball player instead of a movie actor, it might look just like "Survivor's Remorse."

This half-hour Starz original dramedy series centers on Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a young man who has just made it in the NBA. Cam grew up broke in rough neighborhoods. Though undrafted, he was signed by Memphis and played well enough there to earn a big contract in Atlanta at the series' start.
It is not just Cam's life that will change with his newfound wealth, influence, and responsibility; the series is as much about how his success affects his family, including his single mother Cassie (Tichina Arnold), gator-wearing, perk-reaping Uncle Julius (Mike Epps), cousin/best friend/manager Reggie Vaughn (RonReaco Lee), and acid-tongued lesbian sister turned PR specialist Mary Charles (Erica Ash), also known as "M-Chuck."

Contrary the cover artwork and the nice pen I was sent in conjunction with this release, basketball almost doesn't feature in the series at all. (Probably like acting and "Entourage", says the guy who hasn't seen much of that HBO show whose spin-off movie is now in theaters.) The biggest appearance made by the sport comes in the last scene of the first season and even it is merely a nighttime game of H-O-R-S-E among cousins.

"Survivor's Remorse" gives us insight into the glamorous lifestyle and rags-to-riches rise many dream of but few get to experience. Basketball may be the source of Cam's fame and fortune, but it is all the other stuff that comes with it -- PR obligations, endorsement deals, luxury cars, swag, hometown handout requests, 24-hour sports news cycles, women -- which interest the show's writers and producers.

Reggie Vaughn (RonReaco Lee) and Cam Calloway (Jesse T. Usher) take in the sight of a 13-story Nike billboard featuring Calloway in "Survivor's Remorse."

Surprisingly, this show whose most focal white cast member is a team owner with about three minutes of screentime over two episodes, was created by Mike O'Malley. Yes, the pudgy, bald white guy from "Yes, Dear" and "Glee." I somehow doubt O'Malley, who I was certain had to be a different man with the same name, runs in NBA player circles and knows what it's like to be a young black professional athlete today.
But I guess he's got as much of an imagination as anyone and his portrayals don't seem terribly far-fetched or misinformed. The most Mike O'Malley thing about the series is that Cam comes from Boston, Red Sox fan O'Malley's birthplace.

Lending more credibility if only in name, the show's executive producers include NBA golden child, ESPN perma-headline, and soon to be four-time Finals loser LeBron James. James' involvement here, which I can only assume is minimal, surprises nonetheless given his squeaky clean image (typical for most world class athletes) and his less ordinary obsession with legacy (a topic that has driven him to form not one but two would-be "Super Friends" dynasties in free agency). Obviously, this series is not NBA-sanctioned, so logos are nowhere to be seen and even team names are used sparingly. It apparently isn't in pro sports leagues' interests to acknowledge aspects of their athletes' lives that wouldn't be fit to air on "Inside Stuff." Heck, the NFL even pressured ESPN into cancelling the similarly fashioned "Playmakers" after one highly-rated season. Could Major League even be made today?

For a Starz series, "Survivor's Remorse" is kind of tame. Profanity flows with some regularity and there is also some sex, nudity, and drug use. (Jeez, LeBron, think of the children!) The show isn't always so good, but it is extremely watchable. It isn't much of a comedy, but then it doesn't need to be. Why must shows that aren't sitcoms fill an hour timeslot? Besides, without commercial breaks, this runs anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes longer than a network or basic cable half-hour.

The content is timely. A child abuse controversy recalls the Adrian Peterson fiasco (which it was written before). Another plot makes an appropriate reference to the then-fresh Donald Sterling situation. One thing that doesn't ring true is a Bill Cosby reference which predates the whole tide turning against him. Lending a dash of authenticity is a cameo made by TNT's "Inside the NBA" host Ernie Johnson. Boston sports reporters Bob Ryan and Jack Edwards also appear in a taped segment.

Two months before returning to Starz for a ten-episode second season, "Survivor's Remorse" comes to DVD (but not Blu-ray) in a The Complete First Season, a light two-disc set you could easily tear through in a single night (as I did, while even having time to write this review). The exact same set has been available since last December as a Walmart exclusive.

"Survivor's Remorse" opens with Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) signing a big contract to play basketball in Atlanta. Cassie Calloway (Tichina Arnold) makes a faux pas discussing her disciplinary parenting on the red carpet of a charity event.

Disc 1

1. In the Offing (29:35) (Originally aired October 4, 2014)
Cam's old possessions, including an offensive home movie and music video, wind up in the hands of a still extremely poor old neighborhood friend.

2. On the Carpet (26:43) (Originally aired October 11, 2014)
Cassie's comments about how she disciplined Cam as a child breed controversy, coming as they do on the red carpet of an abused child's charity event.

3. How to Build a Brand (26:04) (Originally aired October 18, 2014)
Cam reluctantly agrees to make a dying kid's wish with a hospital visit, but the brain-diseased teen soon awakens from his coma craving debauchery.

Cam (Jessie T. Usher) speaks with a pastor (Javon Johnson) following an exploratory church service. To an unamused Cam (Jessie T. Usher), Uncle Julius (Mike Epps) talks with a defective sneaker from the Chinese brand with whom he just signed.

Disc 2

4. The Decisions (28:31) (Originally aired October 25, 2014)
Cam looks for a church and thinks he's found one, so long as he can persuade the minister to become more tolerant of his sister's homosexuality.

5. Out of the Past (26:36) (Originally aired November 1, 2014)
An old friend fresh out of jail asks Reggie to get him a D-League tryout. Cassie looks for a new house for the family.

6. Six (28:18) (Originally aired November 8, 2014)
Reggie's ex-fiancιe reaches out to him. Cam signs a lucrative sneaker deal he soon regrets.

VIDEO and AUDIO

On DVD, "Survivor's Remorse" boasts the quality of a 2014-15 TV series in standard definition. HDTV viewers will notice the detail and sharpness isn't what it is in broadcast, but though we've been spoiled by higher resolutions, DVD remains an extremely adequate format. The only issue -- perhaps a byproduct of my Blu-ray player's upscaling -- was brief blurriness in end credit names. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack showed appropriate life, mainly in the use of music. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are kindly included.

You probably wouldn't have guessed Mike O'Malley created "Survivor's Remorse." Cam (Jessie T. Usher) tries not to look uncomfortable posing for a picture with a kid in a coma on the Survivor's Remorse Disc 2 main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The only bonus feature on this set, which could have easily filled one dual-layered disc instead of two single-layered ones,
is "Meet the Cast" (6:18), a short featurette found on Disc 2. It sees the cast (and, briefly, creator/executive producer Mike O'Malley) describing the series in general terms and then their characters. LeBron is a no-show, probably too busy stroking his giant ego or allowing the media to stroke it for him.

Disc One opens with a promo for Starz original programming.

The animated main menus play music and clips.

Adapted from the cover art, the two discs occupy a slipcovered black Eco-Box keepcase with swinging tray and insert advertising Starz.

On a private jet, Cam (Jessie T. Usher) and Reggie (RonReaco Lee) do not see eye to eye on the subject of getting rims for Cam's new Aston Martin. #BallerProblems

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Starz's answer to "Entourage", "Survivor's Remorse" offers a fairly entertaining look at how dramatically life changes for a star basketball player and his previously broke family.
Don't linger on the basketball angle; the show certainly doesn't. It would hardly be any different if the sport was switched to one of the other Big 4 leagues. I appreciate how quick and easy a viewing this half-hour program makes for; its writing, direction, and acting are all good enough to sustain some interest, at least for three hours.

Anchor Bay's Season One DVD is extremely basic and could have easily fit on a single disc. While I can't recommend the release very strongly, I will say that if you're interested in the show, this may be the best way to catch up on it before Season 2's arrival later this summer.

Buy Survivor's Remorse: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com:
DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed June 6, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Starz Originals, Springhill Productions, Werner Entertainment, O'Malley Ink, and 2014-15 Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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